I met Hollister while crossing the street. He had an enamel pin attached to the strap of his sling-bag that caught my eye. It was a completely inappropriate, brightly colored work of art that was screaming to be noticed. I couldn’t resist. I had to inquire.
“Is that a topless Marge Simpson?” That’s when I was first introduced to this young man's smile. It was as big as him. “Yes, it is. Good eye.” Rather proudly, he shifted his bag over his shoulder to show me a topless Jessica Rabbit (from the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit). As he did, he began to giggle like a teenage schoolboy who just got away with something naughty.
It seemed only appropriate that I share the story about my son, which will go down in family lore for many generations. It was a crisp, fall afternoon in San Francisco. My brother-in-law and I were walking my kids home from Golden Gate park. My son, who was 3 or 4 years old at the time, was on my shoulders shouting to the world, “I like boobies!” This brought the giggles back to Hollister.
But the real gut busting laugh came when I told him about the woman who was waiting to cross the street with us. She gave my son “the look.” Without missing a beat he looked dow at her and said in the sweetest of little boy voices (and I swear this is true), “What? I like rocket ships, too!” That’s when she shot me “the look” and walked away in a huff. We on the other hand took our time walking home as we listened to my son sing, “I like boobies and rocket ships!”
After sharing my story with Hollister, I thought it would be good to get his. He was from Compton but moved out to go to college in Ohio to study pre-med. Then, nursing. And now, back in Los Angeles, he's changed his major again to audio and sound design. However, he still holds onto the idea of being a nurse.
When I asked him where he was going, he quickly said, “Therapy.” Not something you tell a stranger. For a brief moment I tried to figure out what could be wrong with this young, outgoing man. He measured in around 6’3’’ and no more than 150 pounds but muscular. He had small, tight dreadlocks and a smile as bright as a full moon that sliced across his dark skin. If he had a care in the world it couldn’t have been any bigger than bag that hung over his shoulder – the one with the boobie pins.
I would come to learn that he was going to physical therapy for a small tight knot that formed in his neck. Before I could get a picture or tell him about what I am doing, he had the green light to his appointment and took it. As he was crossing the street he yelled back, “Thanks for the laugh. I loved that story about boobies and rocketships.” This, no doubt, garnered "the look" from a few female commuters waiting for the light to change. Little did that know that it would take a set of cartoon boobies to bring two strangers together.