Polaris, dressed in a longish purple robe and a tall, conical hat, stood upon the flat stage at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory mall, outside on a warm Spring day, and there he mystified young children, and the rest of us.
I set my helmet down on the bench, and watched the show. The motorcycle was safe enough, chained to a parking meter nearby. I figured that if somebody was strong enough to lift the moto above the parking meter, they deserved to steal it, so I relaxed and that Polaris was really great.
And afterward somehow we struck up a conversation, as he was packing up his magicabelia, and later we met some buddy of his at a Mission Street tacqueria, and while sitting around the table over beers, the buddy said “Show him the bubbles.”
Polaris the Magnificent, with a knowing glance, tapped the side of his nose and then produced from his battered knapsack a bottle of common bubble-fluid, a small plastic ring for blowing bubbles, and a couple of plastic straws of different sizes.
And there on the table at La Chomperia, he created assemblies of bubbles that boggled the mind.
The thing was to blow bubbles inside of other bubbles, and to blow bubbles adjoining other bubbles. If their relative sizes were just right, then at the place where they touched each other, they’d form a flat plane. That is, if you had two bubbles of similar size and you could suspend both of them on two wetted straws, then where the two bubbles touched each other would be a flat common boundary.
The effect of two bubbles is interesting, I suppose, but the wonder comes when you assemble three or four or more bubbles. In some cases, you can create geometrical shapes between the bubbles: shapes like a pyramid, a square, and others.
Amazed and marvelling over another beer, I finally bid Polaris the Magnificent and the buddy a fond fairwell, and motored off to some other adventure, and never saw them again in this lifetime. Ah, but the memory remained.
And thus it was, some years later that, married and attending a trade-association convention in San Diego, that Polaris the Magnificent brought me fame and fortune.
The answering service industry has a surprising number of large people. Maybe it’s different now. But then it was startling to see so many overweight owners of answering services. Perhaps because it is a business where you sit all day, talking on the phone?
And at that convention it happened that after the big dinner on the final night, when my then-wife Lori and I entered the dance contest, performing the jitterbug which we’d learned from Oz at the Avenue Ballroom, we won. I not sure it was our skill; it may have just been the comparison with the other, more ponderous dancers. Or maybe we just did well that night. Later, we fell out over the jitterbug, but that’s another story. That night, we shone, and we won.
The prize was an electronic box called a “Call-Diverter”, which we used in our business, and it was worth about $200, so that was a swell prize.
And then they announced the Bubble Contest.
Boy, was I prepared!
As everybody else tried to think of something to do that would make their bubble look different from any other bubble in the room, I begged two tiny cocktail straws from folks at our table, then soaped a clean bread plate.
With just a bit of knitting my brows in recollection, I was able to assemble three bubbles so that a pyramid was formed between the three. Amazing! Mirableu!
I won the contest handily, and standing before the crowd and the admiring eyes of my wife, I happily accepted the prize which was $100 and another Call-Diverter device. But as I stood before the laughing crowd, who clapped madly, a guy from the back yelled out. “No fair! No fair!” he called, “He cheated!”
In a flash, I knew just how to respond. I held up the plastic straws for all to see, and yelled back.
“Whadda ya mean?” I said, “Just standard bubble tools.”