…because not all of us have our Peking ducks in a row
I might sound like a big lush lurching through life, but I drink at the most two (ladylike) glasses of wine a day.
However, over the holidays – Thanksgiving 2011, Xmas 2011, my birthday 2012, Chinese New Year 2012 – I drank a bit more than the two glasses, ingested more than my allotted number of calories and gained a few fat pounds. So when the smoke cleared, I decided to cut down on my alcohol.
I first treated myself to a nice relaxing spa mani-pedi with my usual Vietnamese aesthetician, whose English I can’t understand, even though we always have non-stop conversations about our families and our cultures. This time, we were talking either about her Mother visiting from Vietnam, or worshiping Buddha by burning incense in her watch.
“My Mom in Vietnam don’t visit me…here, so farrrr…and the (garbled) kitty (garbled) no more buttz….”
“OH! YOU-MOM-VIETNAM? SHE-LIVE-HERSELF…YOUR-SISTER-BROTHER?” I was used to speaking with ESL people, so I made sure to speak loudly and clearly, using short sentences. But I always managed to sound like a deaf moron, who spoke crappier English than the person I was trying to communicate with.
“Yes, yes! But..the…no HERE…no…sister…brother…Buddha…socks (garbled). The dishhhhh. Buddha…here…” She points to the altar with the incense urn on the ground. “And, the baby (garbled) lox, you for the…(garbled) …burns. BURRnnssss….” Points to her wristwatch.
After a tense hour, during which I had to stand my ground on getting the cobalt blue toenail polish (“Blue not girl color, boy color!” “YES, YES! BUT-PURPLE-I-NO-MORE-LIKE-BLUE-YOU-HAVE. YES, YES. OK? OK!”), I left my aesthetician a generous tip and hoped she would use some of the money for remedial English courses, instead of more incense for her watch.
It was a good day. Got a lot of work done in the morning and even remembered to wear my flip flops for the pedicure, so the nail polish can dry quickly in the cold Seattle air.
After getting my nails done, I went to the Post Office to pick up my mail and found that my Xmas gift to myself – a subscription to the Wall Street Journal’s Wine Club – had just arrived.
For about $75 plus shipping, you get 15 bottles of assorted wines from all over the world – wines that have all been highly-rated by WSJ’s team of Lushes & Winos ‘r Us. Then, every three months you get another case based on the ones you liked previously, and WSJ tailors the wines for you. There’s even a three-ring binder with information leaflets on each of the wines and spaces for you to make notes, so you can fool yourself into thinking this is some sort of an educational experience, when it’s just another excuse to get drunk in bulk.
Like many of the idiotic things I do – such as pouring melted candle wax down my kitchen sink, only to wonder a day later why the sink was stopped up and smelled like Bamboozled Berry – I’d made this wine club purchase before the holidays, then promptly forgot.
Once I got home with the freakishly heavy case of wine, another enormous box was sitting on my porch.I didn’t have enough miles to go to any place interesting on United, so I used the miles to buy wine glasses – except I thought there were just a dozen or so glasses. But after opening the box, which was large enough to fit Sasquatch and his cousin, Chewbacca, there were over 60 glasses of assorted shapes and sizes for every type of wine and bubbly: Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc glasses, Chardonnay glasses, Cabernet glasses, Pinot Noir/Burgundy glasses, Champagne glasses…This was in addition to the dozen or so glasses I already owned. I didn’t have enough cupboard space. I didn’t even have enough friends to invite over to use these glasses. But I sure as hell had enough wine.
As carefully making my way through the boxes to the front door, I noticed my front door key had slipped off of my key chain and couldn’t be found anywhere. And I make goddamn key chains for a living.
Like Maslow’s Hierchy of Need, which states that one will go through different stages of needs, from the most primal to the most evolved, I started to exhibit the classic signs of Susan’s Hierarchy of Lost Key Insanity.
First, I tried to remember how many keys I had on the key chain before. That wasn’t too difficult, as I had only four keys and now there were three: one was for my front door and the other three I had no idea what they were for, even though I’ve had them forever. In fact, I wasn’t even sure they were for my house.
But then, I still had to try all of the three remaining keys on the chain, knowing they were not the correct ones. None of them opened the door. Believing that I was holding the keys wrong, or the keyhole was having an off-moment, I tried the keys again… and…again…because I was in Stage One: DENIAL.
Next, I looked around the yard for something which might break or pick the lock, because people with lower IQs and names like Rusty and Slick pick locks all the time on TV with great success. I searched all over for a pointy leaf, or a petrified dog dropping. Stage Two: MILD INSANITY.
Knocking the door and calling into an empty house was an option. Because you just never know when your dying ficus is finally going to get up and do something to help you – such as unlock your front door – instead of dropping leaves and looking like it’s on the verge of death in all of the fifteen years you’ve had it.
After yelling at my ficus – I didn’t really expect it to open the door for me, but cursing at my houseplant through the closed window did make me feel better, especially when a few more leaves fell – I walked the perimeter of my house looking for an opening.
No doubt, you’ve heard about people imbued with extraordinary strength during a crisis – a toddler drags his entire family of six and their couch out of a rapidly rising river in Iowa. A paraplegic Father rises from his wheelchair long enough to save his family, the dog, their 50″ plasma TV, and his three-decade collection of Playboy magazines from their burning house. Well, I’m not one of those people.
When faced with lost keys, I suddenly believe that I’ve been reduced to the size of a garden gnome with the flexibility of a rubber band. At no other time do I exhibit this extraordinary ability. Suddenly, a cat or dog door looks like a feasible entrance for an adult-sized woman, who looks like she’s three-months pregnant. Or, the chimney clean out, which won’t even fit my head, let alone my ass.
After constructing a ladder out of an overturned recycling bin, a bag of manure and a rusty lawn chair, so that I could reach my opened bathroom window which was ten feet off the ground, my neighbor came out of his house, dragging his garbage bins to the curb for collection the next day.
“Hey, Susan. Is it recycling tomorrow? I thought it was yard waste.”
Stage Three: 100% Insanity.
In Seattle, my Aunt Miao (yes, pronounced meow) is my emergency contact and the guardian of my spare keys. Despite having lived in the States for over 40 years, Aunt Miao, like many Chinese people of her generation, has never learned much English beyond, “The Boss is no here, call back later”, even if a Jehovah’s Witness is knocking on her door, wanting to talk to her about The Boss. Aunt Miao was widowed about 20 years ago and everything she knows about America stopped after her husband’s death.
Living by herself for decades with little understanding of the American culture and language have made Aunt Miao frightened. Somebody is stealing the supermarket flyers from her mailbox, because everyone else’s mailbox is stuffed full of flyers, except for hers. No, she doesn’t want the flyers; she just doesn’t want to be targeted for flyer theft, because she’s Asian.
She claims that the guy at the post office is gay, but keeps looking down her blouse, even when she’s wearing a turtleneck. There are drug dealers who want to plant drugs in the hubcaps of her Camry. In fact, when I first moved to Seattle, she ran to my house in a panic with a Ziploc-bag full of a “white powdery substance” she’d found in the bushes near work and proceeded to flush it down my toilet. The powder turned out to be flour, and with a bit of spices and eggs, I could’ve made a nice fried-chicken batter right in my toilet.
I tried calling Aunt Miao repeatedly without an answer, so I had to load all the wine and wine glasses into my car and drive over to her place. It was already 8:00pm.
Aunt Miao’s house was dark; it was impossible to tell whether she was at home asleep, or still out.
“Aunt Miao? Aunt Miao? Aunt Miiiiiaaaaaooooo?” I whispered harshly, knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell. Then, I tried turning the knob.
The door opened and Aunt Miao suddenly appeared, hair in green curlers, holding what I later found out to be a surfboard belonging to her son-in-law, over her head.
It took about 10 minutes for us to get over our mutual shock and paranoia, 20 minutes for Aunt Miao to locate my spare keys, 10 minutes for us to figure out which key was for my front door, and another 30 minutes for me to make sure all her windows, doors and air vents were secure from intruders. By the time I got home and finished carrying all the boxes into my house, it was past 11pm. My blue toenails were smeared from the ordeal. One of the glasses was broken. I was exhausted.
And Jesus, did I ever need a drink.