If one could vote for a favorite Salvation Army bell-ringer, mine would definitely go to the man who worked the past few weeks in front of our neighborhood Safeway store. He was the most sincere bell-ringer I�ve ever seen � sincere not in terms of his job or the cause he was paid to represent, but in his manner of greeting.

In the several times we met, we exchanged not more than half a dozen words. We each kept a straight face, but smiled with our eyes and exchanged waves as a sign of mutual understanding and respect. His face was a long road with many a bend, his skin worn, his hair uncombed. Mine � well, who knows what he saw, but it seemed to amuse him. This in turn amused me, especially since it was obvious he didn�t resent his situation or blame others for it.

The fact that he reminded me of Rasputin didn�t hurt. Mind you, he didn�t look like Rasputin. These days, no one is that handsome, focused, or charismatic. But his hair was almost long enough, and there was a hint of the Russian about him � as well as the Scandinavian, German, English, Irish, and Dutch � which, when beheld in subtle combination and processed by my unstable mind, disturbed the area of my brain where images of Rasputin are stored. This is undoubtedly a small area, perhaps one-millionth the size of the head of a pin � and here I am reminded of the term pin head, which I heard my parents use on occasion while I was growing up � never directed at me, of course � and which to this day makes me think of a person with a head shaped like a bowling pin.

The history of bowling is a subject I have long thought to pursue, most likely because of the reference made by Mike Connors in a �Perry Mason� episode in which he reminded the narrow-minded Duchess of Tesoro that even Martin Luther bowled. The Duchess of Tesoro, incidentally, was played by the same woman who appeared in the episode of �The Honeymooners� in which the Kramdens wanted desperately to adopt a child. And Mike Connors, who later starred in �Mannix,� is an Armenian from Fresno whose real name is Krikor Ohanian. Fresno, meanwhile, was originally called Green Bush Spring � well, I don�t know about originally. I�m sure the native tribes had other names for it, such as Hell Hole, or Dead Rabbit. The only San Joaquin Valley tribe that springs to mind at the moment is the Yokut, a proud group who knew as little about bowling as the Spanish missionaries, settlers, and railroad men knew about them.

And here I will venture a guess: none of us really knows anything about anything. We only think we know. We are so blinded and comforted by our sciences, philosophies, and religions that it is almost impossible to see things as they really are. Instead, we see things as we think they are, and then try to interpret the information to our advantage. The result: inequality, starvation, war. The Salvation Army. Bell-ringers. In short, we are big winners all the way around.

Of course, this is only a guess � the product of an unstable mind. That I should be sitting here enjoying myself is proof. The proof is in the pudding, as they say � and then, poof! The silence is so great you can hear a pin head drop.
Not Rasputin
Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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