Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm Turning Vietnamese

I am now a part of the masses of motorbike owners in the city of Saigon.

And I am also now about to let my Mother go.

You can see Monkey Boy here in front of the parking lot that is the castle's new front room - my bike is the black one. The one next to it is Thuy's. The two bikes are Tarn and Katherine's (Tarn is joining us for a Castle Dinner).

I have been thinking about becoming a Saigon bike owner for quite some time now. I have a motorcyle endorsement and have ridden my Vino 125 around Seattle for the past two summers, and now many of our new, savvy teachers have gone and rented motorbikes the first week they arrived - without any riding experience at all. Puts me to shame! Anyway, somehow, returning for year two makes many things just seem easy - I know how to negotiate things, I know the layout of the's just easier. And most of my new route to school is rather nice - I ride along a river - it's much better than the congested route to school last year.

And then there's what happened the other morning. I hadn't seen Nam for four days. The first few days I hid from him, then the third and fourth days I actually looked for him in his spot and didn't find him (Laid back, easy Mr. Seven took me to school). But on Friday, Nam's wife spotted me from her deep fried fish cake stand outside of Nam's mother's house as I was making my way through the market and she motioned me over and pointed me inside. There was Nam, hovering over his very-thin-but-sitting-up-mother. Remnants from the stroke still disfigure her face and her weight loss is severe, but she was smiley when I walked in and sat down. Actually, Nam looked at me rather tentatively for a moment, but when I stuck my hand out he grabbed it and shook it vigorously. I spent a few minutes holding his mother's hand, then asked Nam if he could take me to school.

So my Mother, Chatty Cathy, chats at me all the way to school. He keeps pointing to my tan skin and comparing it to his own and is telling me something like he hasn't been in his spot at seven since I left, etc. It's kind of nice....for about two minutes. Then he starts being his regular know-it-all self. I can't really explain all of it, but when we get within sight of the new school (in a very awful construction zone), I point to it across the pit of new road so he'll know where it is.

Well, the thing is that you have to go around that huge pit in a big circle, so he tells me "No! it's not that way, it's this way!

And, of course, The Repeater keeps repeating the hand motions of how he must go around the site- because obviously he knows everything and I know nothing - so finally I just can't take it anymore and say, "I KNOW! I I KNOW! I KNOW!"

And then, "I was just showing you where the school was!"

Well, of course he doesn't understand my outburst, so he pulls over, stops and just looks at me. I make the motion of going around the site and nod. But it's in this moment that I know for sure I cannot have a Mother for year number two in Saigon.

Just can't.

No way.

So, yes, I am dreading the moment that I must tell Nam I have a bike. It will be painful to see his face fall.

At least I don't have to see your faces fall, especially Mungo's. Nam was about one-fourth of my blog last year, and I hate to lose him as a character. But I have lots of visitors coming, and plan to tell him that I want to hire him for them. But I know, it just won't be the same.

I need to give you time to process this, so I will end it here. We are cooking with Thuy and Thanh tonight, and I have all kinds of news about the school, so stay tuned, and we will see how it goes here without stories about Nam my Mom.


Dad said...

Nice looking bike, Marjie. Please tell me more about your Honda.

Brian Bowker said...

RE: New Bike
Good call on the tall tires; much more stable riding, so I hear.

But it needs a name. Hopefully it won't provide as much entertainment for your blog as Nam has, but it's best to be prepared with a name just in case.

RE: Nam
I will need some time to mull this over. I'm sad to think of him not being in your stories any more, and I'm sad for him in general, but I also understand that you need to move on. Eventually children need to spread their own wings and leave the nest to make their own way. I believe your "mother" has prepared you well for the world; hopefully he'll be proud of you.

[You may want to get advice from one of your helpful students before you "fire" him though.]

Michelle said...

Oh Marjie, I can just feel the frustration you wrote about. Congratulations on your new bike . . . I can see in my mind's eye the masses of bikes maneuvering their way through the intersection and tall, majestic Marjie as one of them!

Cecilie said...

Congratulations on your new bike! I am sure you will love the freedom it gives you, even though you Mom was a cutie (sometimes).

Amy T. said...

You're right. It is not the Cowboy's heart which will break, it's Mungo's.

Other than that, I can see your Mary Tyler Moore expression as you toss your hat into your second year. Bravo.

Mungo said...


I understand.


But, it will be difficult.


Poor, freakishly-long-fingered Nammy.