Paul Kusuda’s column
“JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER”
“June is busting out all over” is a song I remember from way back. It’s a happy and lively
tune that brings out romantic images. When in my teens and going to high school, I knew
very little about what’s what and and what’s going on around me. (I’m still not as aware as I
should be.) I lived with my folks in a large apartment building in downtown Los Angeles’s
slum area, very close to the locale described by author Steve Lopez in his book "The Soloist."
I was so naïve that I didn’t recognize that a girl, about a year or so younger than I, liked me
a bit. I always felt I was the kind of a kid who girls would use (like help with homework, have
someone to unload personal problems, etc.), but I never thought anyone would really like
me. After all, I was short, a definite klutz at anything athletic, a bookworm, a guy who didn’t
mind homework. In short, I was the nerd of the day.
Gloria Guiol lived in the same apartment building with her parents and a younger brother
Arthur. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom while her father had a Work Progress
Administration (WPA) or Public Works Administration (PWA) job and worked really hard all
day. Both of Gloria’s parents spoke little English because they felt more comfortable
speaking Spanish. Some evenings after coming home from high school, I used to wander around the area just to get away
from things. Those days during the Great Depression, of course, we had no TV or hand-held gadgets to occupy or leisure
time. Also, staying cooped up in an apartment was absolutely not even worth consideration. When I wanted to read, I went
to the public library. When I had written homework to do, I used our kitchen table after making sure that all cockroaches
were hiding rather than scurrying around, especially after most lights were out. Naturally, I worked as fast as I could to finish
On Saturdays, I also roamed the streets and saw a lot of interesting sights as well as some not so interesting. Anyway,
leisure time for kids who lived in apartments and hotels was spent outside. Parents usually yelled, “What are you doing?
Go outside to play!” Actually, they didn’t want any answer to their question, “What are you doing?” The mostly didn’t want
kids to be messing around the apartment—which for adults was a place to eat, sleep, listen to the radio, relax, argue, drink
Occasionally, I’d run into Gloria who liked to talk about what was happening at her school, friends she had, favorite songs
she heard on the radio, what kind of work her father did, what kind of food they got from the federal surplus food program,
etc. I learned that the non-perishable food they got regularly was really appreciated even though Gloria felt they got too much
cheese and butter.
Gloria’s hope was that some day she could become a manicurist because she heard they could work every day and make
lots of money. So, she carried a nail file in her purse. Every so often, she grabbed my hand and insisted on cleaning under
my fingernails, filing them, and pushing back the cuticles. All the time, she’d talk about this and that. Being a polite kid,
though very girl-dumb, I let her practice.
I finally caught on to what was happening (I did go to the movies and was aware of some things) when she told me to sit
on the front steps to the apartment while she went in to get something. Well, again, being the polite kid I was, I thought
“What the heck! (I didn’t use profanity until I was in college) and waited. She came back with three dishes of butterscotch
pudding made with water instead of milk, for herself, Arthur, and me. To this day, I don’t care for butterscotch pudding.
Lucky for me, also probably for her, Gloria found someone else to be nice to.
So, thinking of June reminded me of one almost-romance in my life even though I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time.
Another thing about June is that the word rhymes with loon. And that reminded me of people who criticize the apparent
slowness of President Obama in getting the economy moving in the right direction and moving a lot of other changes he
put on his agenda when a presidential candidate. The loons allege that events should reach conclusion right away. Many
decry the slow progress of the economic stimulus he is championing and their perception that racial minority groups are
not specifically targeted. They forget that we have a president, not a dictator or a strong monarch as in the old days.
Thankfully, our system of government requires that a multi-represented Congress, comprised of two Houses, plus the
President must agree before a program can be authorized. (An exception involves a presidential veto.) Then, funds must be
appropriated after program authorization. Since public funds are involved, safeguards must be built in to assure proper use
of such funds (accountability, and therefore appropriate recording and reporting). Details, details, details. All take time. But
the loons want action now! When such action is delayed, blame the President; too many programs he talked about to help
Americans are slow in coming around. Of course, cars for clunkers and similar programs went through in good time, but
that was then, now is now!
Well, loons, I say, “Straighten up and fly right.” Give the President the accolades he deserves. How many of us could cope
with the many jet-lags he has to overcome and continue to be alert enough to deal with foreign dignitaries on international
issues? We need to be more patient and understanding of what he has to face each day.
Who really wants to take on the tasks of those who position themselves to be voted into public office at the local, county,
state, or federal level? NOT ME. NEVER! I would not expose myself to the time commitment, the grief, the back-biting and
knife-stabbing, the raising of campaign funds. I ain’t got the guts. I chicken out!