Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mothers and Castle Floors

Pam missed her flight last night.

We began the evening with a nice, leisurely dinner on Stir Fry Street Nguyen Canh Chan (as opposed to Stir Fry Street Shaoxing, China) with Thuy and Thanh, who insisted that I go to a concert with them out by the airport. Perfect, where Pam was heading anyway (heading there completely unaware that her flight left during our leisurely dinner).

So T, T and I get out at the concert venue, say our goodbyes to Pam and send her on her way. (The concert is a part of tomorrow's Blog Game, so you'll hear more about it then.)

Anyway, when I get home and open the gates to the castle a few hours later, I am quite surprised to see K sitting at the table with Pam, looking up flight information. Pam did what I have done so many times (but fortunately not with a flight - yet), she read military time incorrectly (20:30 -which is 8:30 pm, but Pam looked at it as 10:30) and arrived at the airport at 8:30, which she thought was two hours early. She was leaving this side of the planet after eight months, planning to meet her mom in Berlin in the morning.

She handled everything relatively well- better than I would have, for sure.

So that story will help you understand what happens next.

This morning, Nam asks, "Pam go home?"

I should have just said yes. But I said no, she missed her plane...I thought he might see her in the hood and be confused. So of course we must grab a student translator at school and Mom Nam's concern for his charge is reflected all over his expressive face.

When he picks me up at the gym after school today, he is quite agitated. Nam has been acting so strangely lately. I mean Nam is a quirky person, period, but the past few weeks have been...strange.

He's been looking at me with really confused, sad eyes. He has been bringing me different breakfast treats, some of which he retrieves from all the way across town: a different form of rice cakes, a pork and shrimp-filled muffin, and more sticky rice in all colors of the rainbow. I haven’t really known what to do about it.

So we get home today and he tells me he is going to get Minh. He has a lot on his mind and he needs family to translate. He comes back minutes later with his poor nephew. I invite them in and Nam kind of loses it. He collapses on the carpet and makes a low groaning noise.

"Is he OK?" I ask Minh.

"My uncle ask Pam if she join us to celebrate my dead grandfather today. She said "no." He want to know why Pam don't come."

I get some clarification on this from Minh. Nam's family had a lunch in honor of his deceased father at his mother's house, and he must have come by to fetch Pam. I knew Pam would be gone when I got home because she had sent an email telling me she got a flight out at 6:30. See, I should have told Nam that Pam "go home."

I explain to Minh that Pam needed to fly out, and that I'm sure she was sad that she couldn't join their family in the ceremony, and that it was very kind of them to ask her.

Minh tells Nam this, but he remains on the floor. He lets out another moan. It occurs to me that perhaps Nam did some drinking at the lunch ceremony.

Minh looks at me. "My uncle. He sad. You go in June. He see you no more."

Uh oh.

So this is it.

This is why quirky Nam has been acting strangely.

So I haven't told many people this, but a few weeks ago I signed another one year contract at AIS. The planets kind of aligned for me, and I signed. So did K, and many others, and T is still deciding.

Anyway, in this moment, with my driver moaning in agony on my floor, I'm conflicted over whether I should tell Minh this news. It's a little complicated.

But, of course, I must. I tell Minh I am coming back for another year. Minh looks surprised. He tells Nam. Nam looks shocked. Nam says something like, "Really?"
When I nod "yes," The Cowboy leaps up and looks straight at me. He puts out a formal hand for a shake. When I offer my hand, he grabs it and squeezes it so hard that now I must let out a scream.

"Nam! Stop! That hurts!"

He just nods and says, "Cowboy."

So I figure that this is as good a place as any to put in Sue's picture of The Cowboy, the one I forgot to get from her and which she sent to me a few weeks ago.

He looks just like the Marlboro Man, doesn't he?

9 comments:

Anne Marie said...

(I hate to "be that guy," but...I'm pretty sure that 20:30 IS 8:30pm...)

In other semi-related news, as a regular reader/infrequent commenter I just wanted to say that while I was off having a weekend of pampering with some girlfriends last weekend, all I could think about was how at the Bum Bum this would have cost about $0.10. And since I have no job and love massages, it's enough to make me buy a ticket and board a plane right now.

The good news is that I had the most wonderful young Vietnamese woman do my pedicure and based on what I've learned from you via the blog about how generous (and loyal!) the Vietnamese people are - I decided to begin a monogamous beauty relationship with her. (Plus we talked about where to find good pho in Seattle and that was fantastic) So thanks!!

marjie said...

Ann Marie!
Thanks - I made the change. I would have missed my flight, too. See, I can't read MT either.

Congratulations on your new relationship. I wish you lots of happiness!

Amy T. said...

Your mother,...

sobbing on the floor...

If you hadn't already signed, you would have just then, wouldn't you? (Now, try and explain that verb tense combination!)

I'm glad the universe combined your Wanderlust with a sense of
Home; you've earned it.

Does the band still get a free meal?

Michelle said...

Nam, so quirky yet so real. I can just see him moaning away on the carpet in your living room. I love the picture of him, cigarette with the cowboy hat positioned just so. Marjie, you must learn to listen to your intuition. The inner Marjie knows best. The excellent news about Nam is he is a safe and courtesy driver - you know you'll arrive in one piece. AND, he is an excellent tour guide for those all important, out-of-town guests. I'm hoping (not sure how I'll pull this off) that I'll be one of his repeat clients next year!

Angie said...

No surprise to us that you are staying, Marj. How could you not? Besides, Nam would miss you too much. So would T and T, and the Bum Bum, and your whole neighborhood! We will be so glad to see you in the summer when you are home for a while, though.

The Norris Clan said...

Why am I not surprised... I knew you would stay. Maybe now, though, I can actually figure out a way to get there and visit. I, too, am not looking forward to forking out my money tomorrow for a pedicure that will be only half as good as your weekly one! So jealous right now.

SeattlePam said...

AHA! That's what he was trying to ask me. I saw Nam in the street, and I thought I communicated to him that he should take me to the best lunch place. He drove down the alley, stopped at his house and then pointed inside. They were eating lots of meat which wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I said in my best pantomime sign language "No, you take me to get food. Hungry me!" He was obviously sad, made a motion like I would walk around town to get lunch, and I said OK. OK, I guess. I was really looking forward to Nam naming that special last-day lunch treat! And, by the way, I am just about to board the plane from Heathrow to Berlin. Finally!

Mungo said...

I KNEW you weren't going to come home!!!

Anonymous said...

ok-THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS!!! YOU KEEP TOPPING YOURSELF! i KNOW I am behind...but that Nam story is too cool. I am cracking up and will savor that pic of Cowboy Nam forever. If you ever sealed the deal for me to come visit you-you just did! :) XOXO jACI