Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Frills and Grease

Today Nam picks me up after school with a little more meeting and greeting on the agenda (here he is in his classic: Blue Shirt and Red Helmet...he is not waving hello, he is telling me 'don't take my picture!' but I must because of the red and blue). Last week when I visited his home (at ten pm Thursday night), one of his daughters was in her pajamas. She was very polite, but she must have been thinking "Come on, Dad..." Well today our "after school stop" is at the bridal shop where she works. Her look is definitely one of embarrassment. Many women are sewing and lacing and one customer is heavily made up and dressed in her bridal gown (there is no "wedding season" in the tropics. Nor are there "wedding weekends." Nam motions for his daughter to come over and her body language is one of complete embarrassment. We make a little polite conversation and I find that her job is to do the make-up for the brides-to-be. Nam motions around... he wants me to take a look at all of the white mannequins dressed in Vietnamese- well, both "bright" and "frilly" are words that come to mind - wedding gowns and formal dresses.

From there the story gets much better. Nam takes me to Deep Fry and Sweet Street. I have a driver who loves food! And when he sees my reaction and how I want one of everything, he gets a big kick out of it. He's laughing and laughing and points at the guy in charge of bagging the food like, "Give her one of everything!" I get a deep fried prawn stick, an egg-roll kind of thing, another egg-roll kind of thing and some flan; I'm just walking the length of this really long table, almost a block long, happy as can be, pointing at everything I want to bring home.
Fortunately, when I get home Katherine is all about helping me eat all of it. But what luck. And oh, he is quite happy when I use my one line of Vietnamese and ask him what time it is this morning. But he makes me practice all the way to school.
The other day when he dropped me off on an errand and I told him I wanted to walk home, he gave me his raincoat- and guess what- it rained.
Yes, he is my mother.


The Norris Clan said...

Whoa! Wait a second... I am back in first place?! I get to post first? I haven't gotten to do that since you left!! Ok... I am composed now.

I don't know why I thought Nam was younger, but I love that you are part of his family now. I bet you had no idea you find man like this in Vietnam :-) And, oh yeah, that food looks A-mazing. I want that prawn-stick-thing...

The Norris Clan said...

I think I wore one of those frilly things to my junior prom. No, wait, oh, yes... it was definitely the orange one. I think I might be embarrassed if someone caught me working there too :-)

Brian Bowker said...

I'm so glad you posted the picture of Nam in his famous red and blue! He looks like a very nice man.

That's good to know that the "Proud Parent / Embarrassed Child" dynamic is a universal and cross cultural truth. I bet if that were made more evident between the West and the Middle East there'd be less inclination towards war. Someone should start a "Peace through mortified children" campaign.