“Marjie! Your driver is here!” (Add thick contempt to the word “driver.”) Katherine is yelling up the stairs to me in my Rapunzel Room. Later, she tells me she could smell alcohol when Nam came in the door with his nephew.
I’m in the middle of getting ready for a good-bye party and the last thing I want to do is descend four flights of stairs to talk to Nam. But I do. He's really drunk. Minh looks really uncomfortable.
The thing is, I told Katherine when I got home that there would be a scene with Nam. “He wasn’t there to pick me up at five. There will be a scene.” I know this man.
So here we are. Nam is making the low growling/moaning sounds he made the last time he was drunk at the castle, sad about never seeing me again. At least he is not on the floor this time. He picks up a wicker fan and starts fanning close to my face. He tells Minh to tell me that he was there at 5:10. Why didn’t I wait for him?
“I had to come home to get ready,” I say, pushing the annoying fan away, knowing the conversation will go nowhere. Nam accuses me of lying when I say I waited ten minutes. He points his long finger at me and says, “No!” You know what? He's right. I didn't wait. He knows me, too.
Then he tells me I need to learn Vietnamese so I can communicate with him better. “You’re in Vietnam. Learn Vietnamese!” He makes a defiant gesture with his hand, pointing to the ground. (Later, K says “No, Nam, that’s the exact reason she doesn’t learn Vietnamese, because if she did, she wouldn’t like you at all!”)
“He’s really drunk,” I say to Minh. “You should take him home.” He's only had over an hour to drink since he was supposed to pick me up, so it must have been quick and heavy. As far as I know, he hasn't been drunk on a pick-up yet.
“I know. I’m sorry. My uncle…”
Then Nam starts accusing me of other things. Like that I’m late a lot. And that I am not consistent. That I need to tell him pick-up times more clearly. And that I need to wait for him if he is late. I’ve been taking taxis home for the past two weeks, so the first time I have asked for a ride in the evening in a long time, he blew it.
To summarize, I do everything wrong and he is there to point it out for me. Sound like any relationships you know? Yeah, and they're married, right?
I ask Minh again to lead him out of the house. I try to connect with Minh on something else- because he is so sweet- like the fact that Nam told me that his mother is walking a little bit. “I’m glad your grandmother is doing better,” I say. He thanks me and tries to push Nam out. It’s a difficult task.
This morning, Nam salutes me when I get out to the street. He doesn’t look sheepish or anything. In fact, when he sees my breakfast of glutinous rice cakes topped with custard, he just says, “No!” He really prefers to expedite my food; as you know, I usually hide my purchases in my bag. But I admit it... I leave it out today just to get a reaction - because I am into self-torture.
I’m tired of Nam. I’m tired of sweating all the time. Tired of ants and cockroaches and motorbikes. I’m so tired that I have no blog game for this Thursday. Wrapping things up at school is always exhausting.
But here’s something not-exhausting: I was voted “Middle School Teacher of the Year” by the student body. What an honor. I have to give a speech at the closing ceremonies - not my favorite thing - but at least most of the audience will not understand me anyway. I am very touched to get this recognition from the students I have enjoyed so much this year.
Another thing not-exhausting: Cecilie from Norway will arrive next Thursday for what will surely be a week of fine shopping as well as fine viewing: we are going to Hoi An, the clothes-making capital, and to Halong Bay - which I hear has the most beautiful scenery in Viet Nam. Actually, that does seem a little bit exhausting, but in a fun-exhausting way.
So, yes, I can endure the ants, cockroaches, motorbikes and heat for a few more weeks. As for Nam...well, I think I should at least stop talking to Katherine about him, because she definitely can't endure him. Could you?