Entry #3: A meeting at the mall.


I can't believe what happened today! I was at the mall with my Auntie Linda, shopping for shoes. You see, she doesn't drive and she also hardly speaks English. Auntie Linda speaks Cantonese Chinese so does my mom, though my mom also speaks English. I don't speak Chinese. I know a few phrases like aieeee-yah ("Oh no!"), sic fahn ("dinner time"), mho tie gam dol deen see ("don't watch so much TV!"), and mho gong gam dol deen wah ("don't talk so much on the phone!"), but because I have been around Chinese speaking people all my life, I can mostly understand when she and my mom talk to each other. (Unless they don't want me to understand, then they speak in some weird Cantonese accent and then I don't have a clue!) With me, Auntie Linda speaks more slowly than she does with my mom. Also, she uses hand gestures, sound effects and wild facial expressions. I swear she'd be great as one of those sign language interpreters for the deaf. She's got a really expressive face and she never stops moving her hands even when she's armed with chopsticks! If someone didn't understand one word of what Auntie Linda was saying, they could probably figure it out. She and I get along really well. I kinda of think of her as my grandmother, since my real one died in China years before I was born. Auntie Linda has a picture of my grandmother, taken in 1922 on a trip to her sister's wedding in Shanghai. The woman in the picture looks just like Auntie Linda, lots younger of course, but you can definitely see the resemblance. Anyway, Auntie Linda and I were in the mall. She likes the cinnamon croissants they sell at Shaky Grounds, that gourmet coffee shop. And I love de-caf mochas. It's kinda funny because she's probably the only person I know who hates coffee but loves coffee shops anyway. Because of her Chinese heritage she's a tea drinker, of course, but she thinks the tea they serve at that place tastes like perfume water. In fact, the one time she ordered some "Orange Blossom Spice" she spit it out! But she did dab a little on the underside of each wrist. And every once in a while, during that afternoon, she would sniff her wrists and smile and nod.

After we bought the shoes Auntie Linda and I were enjoying our snack at Shaky Grounds. I was just thinking about the name of the place and picturing some guy shaking up coffee grounds and also that expression "Being on shaky ground..." which I think means something like: you're not sure where you stand with a person. And just then Chaz appears. I felt really weird, especially because of what he said about my idea for the play and the way he looked at me right after he said it. But he was very friendly, like he wanted to talk. And Auntie Linda started talking to him, really loud and fast, but of course he didn't understand what was going on and I felt really embarrassed. I was thinking it sure would be nice to have a normal family for a change, but you know what? Chaz just smiled at her, really sweetly. And she smiled and patted his hand. It was amazing! Then she kinda pushed me so that I should go off and talk to Chaz in private! Then she pulled out her Chinese newspaper and just smiled and waved goodbye to us.

As soon as we walked out of the coffee shop, Chaz told me that he had lied when he said my idea for the play sucked. He said, he really liked my idea and that he was just being weird. Then he apologized! I told him, that for someone who is always talking about how phony everybody else is, he should practice telling the truth more. And he said, "You're right. That's why I wanted to talk to you." Then he asked me if I forgave him. And he looked at me in a really sad and hopeful way. It made me feel powerful and weak at the same time. I told him I forgave him. He said, "Thanks!" and then he said he had to go. I walked back to the coffee place and let me tell you something, after that conversation with Chaz, I really felt like I was on Shaky Grounds.




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