Saturday, August 19, 2006

And So Here I Am

I went for lunch at a nearby 24-hour coffee shop, that is somewhat aptly called the 24-Hour Coffee Shop. You might think that's points for clarity, except that during the summer they close at 9.

For most of my remembered life - that is, minus toddler regression psychotherapy - I've been rather aware that I'm different from my fellow Asians. For the first time in some 15 years, I realized how Asian I really am - I was the only non-Caucasian in the room. I picked a seat, and was quite obviously ignored by the waitress with "Desire" tattooed on her breasts. I quite simply didn't know what to order, and didn't want to order something that's twice the amount that I could eat, which is typically half the menu. So I snuck a question to the lady next to me, basically asking, hey, whatcha eating. Not exactly the classic pick-up line - for a grandmother, no less.

Conversation warmed up with the lady, as I asked stuff like how tipping works, and whether I should call a waitress to take my order. To the latter she said that well, you should have been waitered as is, which of course, brought a certain three-syllable R word into my head. But things have a way of proving you wrong, or at least proving things are in balance, when the lady then said to the waitress, more than once, "Sonny here needs his order taken." Madam Twin Desire still ignored me.

The shift changed and a different waitress took over. This one had a pair of pants which had the word "Envy" striped over her bottom. The text size was of quantum proportions. But she was nice enough to take my order, only half of which I understood, and in the end I just pointed to the plate of the lady next to me and said, "I'll have what she's having."

Conversation with the lady grew interesting, with topics ranging from oil price policies to religion, to the values of upbringing and education and our elders. Both of us sat there for a lot longer than we had planned for, and that was really the first real conversation I've had with a local here. She had a daughter with severe asthma who's now doing a charity bike marathon across the entire country - and who once played viola too. And a grandson who really searched through her hair to find those eyes at the back of her head.

An hour plus after walking into the lair of Desire and Envy, I shook hands warmly with the lady, Cathy Staples, and went back home, confident that yin really works with yang.

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