Saturday, November 22, 2008

Five Conversations

Nam's Big Fat Problem

Yesterday Nam is twenty minutes late picking me up from school. A bunch of my sixth graders are across the street at a deep fry cart so I go over to see what they're eating. They educate me on what is good; they tell me I should get the things in the middle, which look like deep fried baby lettuce heads, so I order some. A few of them have ordered other items that look like deep fried fish balls and I'm in the midst of tasting Johnny's when Nam finally drives up. He's still in motion when he mutters something and gives me the twisting of his elevated hand - a gesture I have come to know well. He disapproves.

I look to Jessica to translate what Nam's Big Fat Problem is now.

"He's telling you not to eat anything."

"I know," I say. "Ask him why."

They talk. Jessica turns back to me. "He says you will get diarrhea."

Update: I did eat the lettuce. They were wrapped around fish balls. I didn't like them. I did not get diarrhea.

Conversation Killers

"Wow, you guys, Disney World really is fun. It makes me feel like a kid again. I mean, the time before my two-year stint at children's hospital."

"Slather up the sunscreen... I had a mole looked at recently and the doctor told me that due to the extent of its irregular borders I'm flirting with a melanoma."

- from Saturday Night Live's "Debbie Downer."

Last night I am out to dinner at very expensive Italian restaurant with Katherine's friend's friends - a teacher couple from a British school - who recommended the expensive restaurant. Katherine is bragging to them about my taste in food and my food history and karma.

"Cool," says the guy. "What are some of your favorite restaurants in Saigon?"

"It's funny," I answer. "Usually I would be able to answer that question very easily because I am obsessed with finding good restaurants. But since I've been here, I've been eating street food almost exclusively and I haven't had the usual urge for the restaurant hunt."

He looks very uncomfortable. "Wow. I hope you have all of your shots, because over 3,000 people die every year from eating street food in Vietnam. Hepatitis, A, B...?"

Does it bother you?

Katherine: Does it bother you how accustomed we have become to having ants in our kitchen?

Me: Yes. It also bothers me how accustomed I have become to having ants in my bed.

Katherine: Do you think we are less clean than other people?

Me: Probably.

Katherine: Do you think that we should ask other people if they have a constant stream of ants on their kitchen counter?

Me: No. Let's not mention it.

Katherine: OK.

Picture memory for select blog readers -- ants on our door in Costa Rica (Our ants are teeny tiny here):

When the moon is round (conversation one week ago):

Thuy: Maggie, why you have picture of monks? You like this religion?

Me: Yes, I am very interested in Buddhism.

Thuy: I take you to temple with me?

Me: Yes!

Thuy: I go when the moon is round. I come get you.

Me: (looking out the window at the full moon): The moon is round now.

Thuy: No! I come and get you when the moon is round.

Me: OK.

I think that means next month, but evidently, it means yesterday. Thuy comes and only Tarn is here. He's feeling better (finally), so she takes him to her temple across town, in Chinatown. They burn the circular incense. They go to a vegetarian restaurant that Thuy recommends. Tarn says it's great. I'm out at an expensive (mediocre) Italian restaurant. I'm going to have to get better at recognizing when the moon is round.

"You know, it was much better this time..."

Steve (of the former dreadlocks) and his wife Sharon, live pretty close by and we introduced them to the Bum Bum. Tonight they are both getting Tran massages, so one hangs out at the castle while the other gets a massage, then they switch. I really like both of them.

When Sharon returns:

Me: What music did Tran play during your massage?

Sharon: It was pretty good tonight. R & B...I can't really remember what, but it was good!"

When Steve returns:

Me: Hey, what kind of music did Tran play during your massage?

Steve (he pauses to remember): You know, it was really good today: Marvin Gay, Aretha Franklin, Al Green...

I am a genius. Now Steve, Sharon, Katherine and Tarn are all going to make her CD's, too. And we are also going to bring our own massage lotion, because baby oil is just oilish. I really hope we don't offend her!


Michelle said...

Marjie, I really hope that I can go to the Bum Bum when I come to visit. I sometime dream about having endless massages and every time you write about it I'm envious.
I saw Chris at Harbor Square (the health club we both go to) this morning and I shared with him how reading your blog has increased my already high excitement for Vietnam to an even higher excitement.

Marjie said...

Michelle - you can go to the Bum Bum anytime, day or night. Since you won't be working when you are here, you can live there. You can go from a hair wash to a massage to a facial to having your nails done, and it will cost you maximum about $10 for everything! I am excited for will get to see so many places I haven't seen yet, so I am looking forward to hearing about it.

kumma said...