There is so little I understand and so much that defies my understanding.
I sampled the menu at a local Asian restaurant that re-opened in a new location after months of back-breaking renovation. The owners are congenial and amused by the irony of being Chinese serving primarily Japanese food. The family is extensive. All of the youngest generation is energetic, polite and motivated.
I waited for my take-out order, reading the paper, in the company of another patron, who bemoaned the elimination of the 1/2 order menu and lunch buffet. I should have kept reading the paper. SOMEHOW I engaged in conversation with the dissatisfied man. He went on and on about a Chinese restaurant he used to frequent in Montreal, extolling its unrivaled fare and humble ambiance. I should have checked the hockey stats, maybe clipped a few coupons… but NO! I just couldn’t restrain myself. I thought I was being friendly and helpful in defending the family’s decision to move to a fresh, modern space with an updated menu. I was so WRONG.
The hairy, blue-eyed man, sporting a long white braid, did not consider my suggestion that it could be possible that the owners were only trying to appeal to a broader audience. He continued his objectionable harangue, expanding his complaint to include the Americanization of immigrants, who spoiled their efforts by capitulating to commercial American culture. I should have nodded and turned the page to catch up on the going price of pork bellies. Instead, I engaged him further.
He was stridently vocal in the conviction that the best food was served in simple establishments. Initially, I was making conversation then my alter ego began chafing from continued exposure to the odious, old blowhard. In agreement, I responded that some of the best food I’d had, especially Asian food, had come from stalls and street vendors during travels in SE Asia. (Quite a distance from Montreal.) Where did the crossword puzzle get to???
He was off like a rocket. The conversation moved rapidly to include his fluency in NINE languages, extensive travels, loathing of white Americans, oppression of “his” people-apparently, indigenous North American Indians. I smiled the sort of smile that makes my sister want to slither under the closest rock. By this time I had rolled the paper up like a bat, whacking it against my knee in anticipation.
I rose to my full, imposing height, just 8 inches shy of 6 feet and I BEAT the egotistical, old coot over the head. He couldn’t get away from me because I’d wrapped his stupid braid through my fist. I hissed, “Do you whine and complain incessantly in all NINE of those languages? It doesn’t matter how many languages you speak, if no one is listening to your crotchety, old ass! Do you want to know about oppression of the people? MY people have been oppressed since the beginning of time; women– slaves to men and children, less than last, beaten and sold. You don’t hear me bellyaching about my woes, which are ongoing and current. I didn’t know your people, and I damn sure did not exploit them, so shut your pie hole and suck it up!”
My order arrived, I stood to take it, handed the newspaper to the quivering old goat, and strode, smirking, out the door.