An Interesting Thing About Tom Hanks

by Ani King

An interesting thing about me: I associate nose whistles with Tom Hanks, even though I’ve never heard or seen Tom Hanks nose whistle in a movie. It generally makes no sense that the two are related. Another interesting thing is that we share the same name, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, but I go by Tommie. My grandma’s nose whistles when she sleeps or is really into something on television. Because of this, you might say I think about Tom Hanks a lot. Grandma and I spend so many days together that you might say I think about Tom Hanks all the time. Not really all the time, because sometimes I’m out at the grocery store, or on the internet at the library, or riding the bus between those two places and home, and I wear my headphones. Even saying ‘nose whistle’ now, I am thinking about Tom Hanks. An interesting thing about Tom Hanks: he has type-2 diabetes. My grandma has type-2 diabetes, and she’s bad about taking care of herself. So bad in fact that she has diabetic nephropathy. Her kidneys are failing. My favorite Tom Hanks movie is Big. Grandma has an old VHS copy that we watch together on the weekend. At least that is the right time to be thinking about Tom Hanks. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a kid who finds a mechanical fortune teller named Zoltar and wishes he could be an adult, gets what he wants, has a great time on a giant floor piano, but then it’s not quite what he expects. You might say this is the foundation for a good movie, not getting what you expect. If I had a chance to ask Zoltar for a wish I wouldn’t ask to be older or younger; I’d ask for my grandma’s diabetes to be cured. You might ask why not wish for a lot of money so I could get her state-of-the-art treatment, and also do things like get a new TV, and maybe a car, but I think granted wishes usually aim to trick you. I would only ask for something that helps someone. I think Grandma would be mad if my wish cured her. She thinks consequences are important. She’s a reap what you sow kind of person. An interesting thing about my grandma: she used to be a showgirl. She danced in Las Vegas and met Neil Diamond, but came back to Cincinnati when she had my mom. My mom went to prison when I was three and it’s just been Grandma and me ever since. Grandma likes to show me pictures from when she was dancing because she likes to remember being thin. She always says it’s important to love your body how it is, but still spends a lot of time with those old pictures. We’re both bigger people. In fact, we’re both much bigger people. You might say that’s why Grandma has diabetes. I will probably get diabetes someday, too. Most of what I know about Tom Hanks I learned at the library. I only use my phone for emergencies and music, which I download on the library’s Wi-Fi since we can’t afford the internet at home. I looked up ‘Tom Hanks nose whistle’, ‘interesting things about Tom Hanks’, and ‘is Zoltar real?’ That’s how I found the Zoltar people. They call themselves the Secret Zoltar Society, which I think sounds, like Grandma would say, a little overdressed for the occasion. The Zoltar people have an ugly website, with testimonials about how they’ve found the fortune teller in such and such town, and had a wish come true, or know someone who had a wish come true, or heard that someone had a wish come true. For nine-ninety-nine I can join their secret society, and I will get a text message if Zoltar is going to be in my area. They guarantee it will be the real Zoltar. They guarantee they will refund my money if I am not satisfied. They guarantee they will not refund my money if I get to make a wish and it doesn’t come true. In the forums I ask: Has anyone been cured of a serious illness after finding Zoltar? BigBee79 says: I’ve heard that it happens, but not to me specifically. I ask: What about diabetes? No one who answers has personally been cured of anything, but everyone believes Zoltar could do it. Even diabetes. An interesting thing about diabetes: it’s been around since 1500 B.C. My grandma has been on insulin for as long as I remember. She just started dialysis a few weeks ago. Grandma hates being hooked up to the machine three times a week. She hates sitting still. I try to sit with her the whole time, but sometimes I talk too much and she sends me away. “Tommie, I’m not fit for people,” she says, and pats my hand like she’s sorry for being in a bad mood. I don’t blame her, I would be in a bad mood, too. In fact, I am generally in a bad mood while she’s doing her dialysis. While we are sitting together, watching Big, and other movies, I think about Tom Hanks when her nose whistles, and I think about how I sent the Secret Zoltar Society a ten-dollar bill for a text message that will tell me when Zoltar is in my area, and I worry that the text message will be too late. —
Ani King is the Editor in Chief and founder of Syntax & Salt Magazine. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Strange Horizons, Penny Magazine, and Every Day Fiction. You can find her at and on Twitter.
  Artwork by: Osman Rana