Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Miss Sue (Two Thumbs Up)!

I come through the school doors and see Nam waiting across the street. He is smiling and waving. I cross and give him the thumbs up gesture. "Did you have fun?" I ask.

"Miss Sue!" he says, and he gives her two (very enthusiastic) thumbs up. He starts telling stories as soon as I get on the bike and does not stop until we get home. I understand something about Miss Sue getting lost and Nam bringing her home, Miss Sue eating eight of something and Nam eating only three, Miss Sue taking lots of pictures of him and him trying to hide from them. He makes the motion of a big, strong firefighter and points to himself as being so, so small.

Speaking of "firefighter," when we get to the castle, I can't wait to get Sue's version of the day. But my key does not open the door. Nam tries, I try again...it won't work. It's so strange. Even though six people are staying at the castle right now, no one is answering the doorbell. After trying for about ten minutes, Nam says he will go and get someone to help, so I squat in front of the castle to wait. The grandfather-Who-Makes-His-Granddaughter-Laugh brings me a chair. Candle Neighbor brings me something to drink. Ms. Hao comes over to get the story. All of my neighbors are concerned about my plight, and soon there are seven of us standing outside trying to problem-solve. I figure Sue is on the roof unable to hear the doorbell because the front gate is open and we always lock it when we leave...so I try to ask my neighbor if I can climb up to their roof to yell across, but they don't understand. To make a 45-minute story short, finally I just pound and pound and yell and ring and ring, and Sue opens the door.

When I finally get in, I turn around and wave to my neighborhood, "Thank you, everyone!" My neighborhood waves back.

The firefighter part: when you lock yourself into the castle, it is a real fire hazard. If you can't find the key to get out, you are trapped. We have an extra key in a hiding place for that purpose, but Sue just left the key in the lock to be safe - that is why I couldn't open the door. And I was right, she was up lounging in the hammock, just taking it easy.

When Nam returns from trying to find help, he cannot fathom Sue's pantomime about what she did with the key. Of course, he must show her the mistake she made over and over again. I tell her that he might just go and grab his nephew for a lecture, because that's what would have happened with me.

But he doesn't. I discover that they have already made plans for one more day of touring. "See you again," says Nam. "Nine." He will pick her up at the castle at nine again.

For the rest of the evening, I get to hear Nam stories. Sue had a blast with Nam. He began the day by taking her to the fire station, then to the opera house, the post office, the Reunification Building. She pointed to a picture of Banh Xeo (the crepe that we made with Thuy and Thanh on Tet) and he lit up and drove her across town to the best place for Banh Xeo. What a great strategy - one I will be using. He kept rolling up the crepe into the lettuce and handing it to her; that is what she ate eight of. He wouldn't let her do it herself. At one point, they stopped at a bookstore to buy a phrase book so they could communicate better. At the end of the trip, she asked him "how much?" and he gave her a very fair price...$6, which comes out to about a dollar an hour. He was so proud to be her tour guide for a day.

Sue took lots of pictures, but after all of our shopping, hair washing and eating, I was way too tired to load anything. I am posting this at 3:30 am for some reason. Check back to this post for pictures of Nam and Sue's Day #1 tomorrow, when, hopefully, she will have pictures of Day #2 as well.


Brian Bowker said...

I am so jealous of Sue right now.

Thomas said...

Fortunately it did not require an expensive mechanic to solve the key problem.

Mungo said...

I love the first pic of Nam's hand on the mototaxi handlebar...

Brian Bowker said...

Me too!