Friday, October 05, 2007

You don't look Chinese

She was about 5 feet tall. Her hair was black and cut very neat and short. She was an older, Asian woman. She walked right to the sherry and port section of the store.

A man walked in and stepped just a foot inside. He was older, Asian man. His hair was gray under a nice tan hat. His entire outfit was tan from jacket to shirt to pants to shoes. "I'll wait for you in the car!"

The woman did not turn. In fact, she appeared not to hear him at all. She just stared at one portion of the sherry section. The man crumpled his lips tightly. "I said, I'll wait for you in the car!" He began to turn and leave.

"No, come here. I'll only be a minute."

"I'll just be in the car."

"Come here," she repeated. "I'll just be a moment. You can carry it to the car for me."

The man shakes his head. He's clearly annoyed. Also clear is that this is how they relate all of the time. It's their pattern. Still, like most people, he's a creature of habit and will play his role as expected. He walks inside and approaches his wife.

"I usually get this one, but I wonder if I should..?"

"Oh, for god's sake, just pick one and let's go."

"But this one is more expensive. I wonder if it's any better?"

The man approaches the shelving closer. He squints through his glasses as he attempts to read the prices. There's only a difference of 64 cents in the price. He reaches for the more expensive one. "Come on. Let's go."

"Wait. It's more expensive, but that doesn't mean it's better."

"It's not much more expensive." He turns to me and asks, "Is it better?"

I nod. She was comparing a no name Italian sherry to Taylor and Taylor, while not very good, was probably better.

"OK, he says it's better. Now, come on." He walks up to the counter. She stands her ground. He looks as if her lack of movement is causing him pain. "Come oooon" he says, voice growing tired, annoyed, louder.

I follow him to the counter. We stand together. He smiles at me, asks how I'm doing. We exchange pleasantries. He turns to his wife.

"Oh, geez, woman. This is fine. Let's go."

"I'm just trying to decide." She hasn't budged from her spot other than to pick up a bottle of the stuff she normally gets. She's reading the bottle looking for some sign, something that will confirm that it's better or worse than the Taylor. There is no such sign. Nothing will help her make that decision. What if she doesn't like the Taylor and finds that they just wasted $4.52? Could she give it to someone? That would be rude, giving someone bad sherry you don't like.

"Will you come along?!!?" the man pleads again.

She finally turns and begins to walk to the counter. "Thank god. Is this OK?"

She makes no motion to indicate that the Taylor is indeed "OK". In fact, there is no response in either her actions or her face. She looks completely unconcerned about his pleas. She's still thinking over her choice. When she reaches the counter she tells her husband, "I was just trying to decide which would be better to cook Chinese food with."

I intervene. This is something I know about. I prepare Chinese foods on occasion. Recipes call for a dry sherry and the Taylor is a dry sherry. The other sherry is not dry. "The one that he's got would be better," I say.

The man perks up. "This one will be better?" I nod. "There! He says this one will be better. Let's get out of here. Fine. How much with tax?"

The woman looks at me with still no sign of emotion. She's calculating a response. She turns to her husband. "For Chinese food? He says this one will be better for Chinese food? What does he know about Chinese food? He doesn't look Chinese."

This from a woman who has no accent of Asian origin in her speech at all. This from a woman, I smile inside as I think about this, who, instead of going to one of the numerous markets in the area and buying a Chinese wine to cook with is looking at an Italian product for her Chinese cooking. Yet, she's worried that I'm not Chinese enough to cook Chinese food.

"Can we just take this and get out of here?"

She nods, more out of resignation than approval. The woman then turns to me and asks if we have any boxes that she may take. I direct her to the pile and she walks away.

"Oooh, we don't need any..." and the man trails off. He realizes that this is a lost cause. He pays for the sherry and shrugs his shoulders. We chat while his wife looks over the empty boxes. While he waits he decides to buy a miniature bottle of Gallo merlot to try it out. His wife eventually settles on 2 boxes and says, "Now we can go."

Before leaving, he smiles and thanks me. She smiles as well and whispers "Thank you" and they leave.

Now playing: Muslimgauze - Exit Afghanistan
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Now playing: Andy & Paul Weller Lewis - Are you trying to be lonely?
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1 comment:

Scott said...

That inspires me. I was listening to a couple of my friends from the East Coast, when I realized they weren't nagging or haranging each other. The subtext was a lovely courtship. Put a whole new spin on things, and after a while I felt like I was invading their privacy. I think I'll blog a bit on that.