Here’s a scene that really should have been performed on the R & J Balcony, but it takes place on the ground floor:
Scene background: Nam is supposed to pick me up at 5:30, but he is late. I have a meeting with the landlord and the guy who set up our wireless at 6:00 (our connection has been down for three days—I posted from school yesterday). I wait ten minutes, then finally must hire someone else to drive me home. “Someone Else” is horrible and I hate him. I make it (barely alive) home right before 6. Katherine is at soccer and Tarn is at his martial arts class, so I am alone. The two men speak very little English and I have sent them a text without much explanation of our problems.
Now, the scene opens with me greeting the two men at the door and then attempting to convey technical difficulty through pantomime. I know Dennis, especially, can picture this, and he is laughing (because I cannot convey it using words). For ten minutes, I explain how the wireless “says” it’s working but how it’s not, and how the electricity keeps going off for hours after showers and how we want to get a new cable package (one that carries the BBC) before the election.
In the middle of this pantomime, the doorbell rings. It’s Nam with his nephew who speaks a little English, and Nam is looking really depressed. He wants to know why I didn’t wait for him at school. I tell him, through his nephew, that I waited ten minutes, but that I had a meeting and had to get home. Nam wants me to know how sorry he is, but that traffic was terrible tonight (it was). He wants to give me 15000 VND back for the missed ride. By his mopey countenance, you might think I have fired him. He tries to give me money for the missed ride (remember I paid him for the week) but I tell his nephew that he should keep the money. I knew he would eventually come, and it was horrible traffic. He did nothing wrong. Nam keeps explaining the same things, how he got there at 5:40 and how I wasn’t there. He is not reading the social situation at all. I think I know how his daughter feels.
Now enter the cleaning lady, Tang, that we are hiring. She has arrived with Phouc, our Vietnamese teacher (she is Phouc’s sister), to see the house so we can make a list of cleaning supplies to purchase. Getting a cleaning lady is scandalous enough, right (not for here, of course, but for you readers) but we have been trying to set this up for a month (and have been putting off all cleaning since the party).
In case you cannot picture this scene clearly, I now have six Vietnamese people in my (dirty) front room and all of them want me to clarify things for them.
Then our candle neighbor across the alley drops on by. She has stored her drink cart in our entryway over the weekend and is here to retrieve it. Perfect -- why not now? She begins to tell Phouc a long story about how she sometimes stays home to watch our house…she is so worried about it. Phouc is trying to translate all of this to me, adding things like “poor people are the best people on the earth” and I do wonder for a moment if the police will be called for this party, too~
To tell you the truth, I don’t remember how I finally got mopey Nam to leave, or how long it was before Tarn and Pretty Lady finally came through the door to save me from my Technical Hell, but at last it was just me and my cleaning lady. I’m going to write that again: It was just me and my cleaning lady.
She starts tomorrow…