“Pickles and Tarts” — Chapter 12

Chapter 12

This struck Frank and it caused him to go back in time when he was a ten-year-old living in Hawaii. He told his friend Taki that he was attracted to a Filipino girl they were dancing with during the May Day Parade at Jefferson Elementary in Waikiki. The next thing he knew, Taki asked him to meet him outside class and Taki threatened him, that if Frank ever tried to date her, he would punch him. Frank was the smallest boy in class. Taki was the second smallest. Still, Taki greatly intimidated Frank. Then, in sixth grade, Kazu and the other boys would throw a hard plastic ball at him in a game called ‘Bean ’em and Run.’ Instead of chasing the other boys, they all kept throwing the ball at Frank. Eventually, he realized that as the Haole, the outsider, he wasn’t really their friend.

He went to Noelani Nishiki’s with Caitlin Watanabe, who was his “girlfriend” at the time. They held hands, walked home, and that was about it. A Samoan classmate escorted him outside near one of the only bushes between the classroom and the Ala Wai Canal and threatened to kill him if he ever saw him with Caitlin again. It turned out that the Samoan was later in jail for murder. What really upset him in these cases was that neither Taki nor the Samoan seemed to have any contact with the girls. Were they jealous? Frank wondered. Then in intermediate school, Frank managed to tell Taki that he liked Sara, then Taki and Kazu tricked him into meeting them by the tennis court. He can’t remember who punched him in the stomach first, but it made him cry mostly because of the injustice: It didn’t seem to matter what Sara thought, or if she even knew. He never sat with them on the bench again. He was fooled for the last time. He did however, dance with another Caitlin during a dance period at school. He, Caitlin, and another couple were the only people on the dance floor. The affect on Frank was to take away that part of his childhood. He reasoned that this may have been the cause for his attraction to Nicole. He also knew that he was attracted to types of women and that their ages didn’t matter. Nicole was beautiful to him despite that she was probably considered beautiful to anyone.


14 comments

  1. With this chapter you touched my soul Mario. As I am an empath I could feel the pain and the injustice Frank went through during his childhood and preadolescence. Being a victim of bullying leaves you scarred forever. I too was bullied in school even though it wasn’t as bad as in Frank’s case. It was more of a kind of psychological bullying but it undermined my self esteem completely during a time. However, I had a wonderful family that compensated my bad times in school. My father was the person who gave me the most confidence. Sometimes I wonder how things would have evolved without him. What kind of person would I be now? Anyway, the positive thing about my bullying experience is that it made me a stronger person.

    As a reader I cannot help but feel sympathy for Frank and for any person or group of people who are victims of whatever sort of power abuse. Probably Frank’s attraction to Nicole may have something to do with his previous bullying experience. You describe everything with great insight. Also, I sense many autobiographical elements in this novel. I am really sorry if you too went through such painful bullying as I read in your blog introduction. Anyway, as I said, this chapter is full of insight and very inspiring. Bravo!

    • Thank you Marta. I do try and relate this story to my life and perhaps make a false connect to a lost childhood as explanation for Frank’s attraction to Nicole, but I really think he just likes her perceived intelligence, cockiness, the happy-go-lucky attitude, a by-product of two parents, brothers, friends, a healthfulness, affluence, and thus confidence, as you allude. People are drawn to confidence and beauty. Confidence is key to making oneself attractive to the opposite sex. Edward T. Hall once described a box of rats. The Alpha males got all the females. Second tier of male rats, on occasion, got to have sex with with the second tier females or others, I guess even with Alpha females. Third tier rats cowered in the corners, settling for male rats they could dominate, or females that strayed, and even perhaps once or twice the Alpha females, but of course there was great threat to them. Not only were all the male rats harsh to them, but the females, if even for a second weren’t amenable, they could stare the tertiary male rats down and hint at retribution, shaming them into further self-loathing. Females are the ultimate arbiters of male self-respect. Who they choose to mate with says a lot about who they are and if they will perpetuate the species and how. Tertiary male rats, I think, dream of beauty, a quiet, non-condemnatory one. Who doesn’t want to be seen as attractive?

      • Interesting point. We are very much like rats. I guess I would probably be a tertiary female rat because I too tend to cower. However, I do not want to dominate males, but neither do I want to be dominated by them. What about you? A tertiary male rat as you dream of beauty being an artist-writer?

      • No one likes to be dominated, but a woman I know says both that she likes a man who goes after what he wants and she likes to be seen as attractive. But, of course, she qualifies who she likes to see her. I like beauty and brains. I am attracted to confidence, but also repelled by it. Sarcastic women, for example, while highly appealing are usually frightening, and in the end, I learn from my mistakes.

  2. Mario, I am enjoying your novel very much. You deal with many interesting current topics and I really like the way you write. I also see there are a lot of autobiographical things in your writing. Looking forward to the next chapter!

  3. Hello, we are English students of Marta from Institut Marianao High School.
    We like your novel because you have been able to deal with many current topics in just a few chapters. We are especially worried about the issue of sexual abuse in today’s world. Thanks for withing this interesting novel. Do you want to come to Barcelona? We would love to have you in class one day.

    • Ha ha. I was in Barcelona last summer. I love your city!!!! It was my impression that women freely walked the city, but I was wrong, according to Marta. She said women were raped, for example. Here, women do not walk alone usually. I think it is correlated to Capitalism, which if left unconfronted would strip every man of his pride and every woman of her self-respect by impoverishing them so that they would to work forever to bring riches to the Capitalists, who then would sleep with every woman they could. I think sexual assault is correlated to powerlessness in men. They realize they have nothing to offer. Sexual prowess is correlated to economic wealth. Because once you have someone, how can you support them if you have no money? Also, Marshall McLuhan said that “The medium is the message.” What he meant is that our technologies determine how we live. If we cannot find jobs because we do not know how to code or support tech, for example, our wages are minimal. This is not attractive to a woman nor sustainable. Men are inherently sexual and yet made impotent by their inability to compete. Women are unimpressed by them and they know it. Some, simply take what they want. Others recede. Society needs to insure that people find their purpose and then support them. Our focus is on consumerism. But like Marie Kondo advocates, we just need things we love in our lives and then thank the other things for being there when we needed them, but then kiss them goodbye. If what we are good at is not lucrative, we take jobs that demean us as well as bankrupt us, and there is nothing left. Companies squeeze every drop and then ask us to give them our souls. (They shop us to see how the “emotional” experience was. That’s where the soul comes in.) Despite we are at our full capacity, they then test our mettle. The strong somehow survive by preying on the weak, and the weak or moral die because they try with open hearts by believing there is good in the world. Thank you for reading the novelette. I do want to finish it.

  4. I love the way you brought out the human in Frank. Making him eerie in the last chapter and making him a survivor in this chapter is brilliant. Another thing, age should never be a problem, matters of the heart are ageless. I like the way Frank still has an issue with this. Maybe he is reliving his youth? Growing up is though at the best of times and even more growing up where Frank doesn’t fit in. You are making me swing back and forth with my opinions of Frank, can’t wait to see what happens next. Cheers 🙂

  5. Mario, in this chapter has touched on a sensitive topic, bullying. As a mother, it is a problem that worries me a lot nowadays, all this about whatssap, hangouts, instagram are a double-edged sword with which we did not have to fight in our youth.
    I often hear of some girl, more and more young, who take photos with little clothes and those photos run like wildfire. What ingenuity, for God’s sake!
    Fortunately I never suffered bullying even though I was part of the group of nerds in the class and that some classmates did not like.
    We are each the result of our experiences and how we have assimilated them, maybe Frank is dragging that problem from his youth.

    As you always make me think!

    Greetings.

    • This is an interesting view. So, Frank in his youth was bullied. I see that. And in his being bullied, he chose to be alone and pick exclusive friends, avoiding women or girls at his age because he associated being with them as potentially dangerous. His attraction for Nicole, however is just because she is cute, his type (age regardless), or perhaps she reminds him of his lost youth. If she hadn’t chosen him, I am not sure he would have taken his chances with her. Are you saying Frank is bullying Nicole? Anyway, thank you for bringing up the theme of bullying. It is a very important element in our culture that I think we often do not realize is happening and silences people, takes away their freedom and instills fear, and could be a byproduct of capitalism or a reason it is accepted. The psychology of bullying is that it seems to stem from powerlessness. That powerlessness is then overcompensated for by finding others who exhibit weakness or who can be prayed upon. I remember being the smallest kid in school. While, I seemed to be among a group of boys, who I thought were my friends, they were actually abusive. I ended up just staying away from them at a point and just went surfing by myself. Looking back now, the bullying was constant and happening the whole time. Thank you for alerting me.


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