Eating lunch is my most consistent adventure. It’s one of those adventures that isn’t necessarily exciting, or, say, fun, and there are no sunsets into which we ride, no swords or maps or cool boots, no zombies, no caves to spelunk or creeks to fjord. It is, however, one of those endeavors that can carry the ‘adventure’ label because the outcome is indeterminable and could range from horribly bad to surprisingly pleasing. Also, there are sometimes things like congealed pigs’ blood in my soup, or bamboo. Anytime those things could end up in your bowl, I suppose it could probably be called an adventure. With this lunch adventure, however, the main characters are somewhat ambiguous; the only real players are Me, China, and Stomach. I have a heavily positive skew towards China. China is somewhat indifferent to this whole process. Stomach is the one who really suffers when it all goes bad, and really benefits when it goes well. I think I might be able to describe the situation by stretching an analogy… bear with me, because it is, admittedly, imperfect. (It is, however, more tasteful to do it this way than to tell you what I’m talking about directly. It is also more fun. This way there is a puppy.)
It’s all kind of like my life is this house, and I’m living there happily with my little puppy, Stomach. Everything is going fine. There are the random mishaps when Stomach really interferes with something, you know, chews up some shoes, or poops in the refrigerator, but I take him to the trainer and he learns and obeys (which trainer I take him to depends on whatever his most recent mishap was, but usually I choose either Mr. Gas-X or Dr. Immodium). Then, all of a sudden, I start to take care of a little friend’s baby (absolutely unlikely, I know, but bear with me. Also, friends, please don’t ask me to care for any of your little babies, with their little nub fingers and toes, and miniature clothes). Let’s call this baby China. From the very beginning, Stomach is wary of little China. Stuff starts out pretty bad. China, with her little baby smarts, tricks Stomach into really chewing up the couch this time, and really ruining my shoes, and on and on. Stomach has never been this much of a troublemaker. After each incident, Stomach gets a visit from the trainers (though, at this point, even my two aforementioned favorites are throwing up their hands in helpless frustration). Little baby China really doesn’t mean to get Stomach into trouble. In fact, there are times when she throws him part of her delicious baby food, or snags a cookie from the table and knocks it to the floor for him. Those are the great times. In fact, little baby China and Stomach are becoming quite the fast friends.
Today, that friendship may have been tested. Lunch is an adventure because, like said, I never know what I’ll get; you see, with my Chinese, even when I think I order something safe, something totally different from what I thought I ordered is liable to come out of the kitchen. I’m totally fine with that. Everyday I’m trying a new dish or a new restaurant. I’m a hands-off babysitter, let’s say, and China is allowed to just roam free. Stomach is looking after her, after all. Isn’t he? (What was that that crashed upstairs?!? STOMACH!!) Today I told the waitress, “I want something with lots of Vegetable. I like Vegetable a lot.” And she pointed one out and said something like “How’s that?” and I said “Okay.” (Actually, I said “Keyi,” which is the word for ‘can/able to’ but here you use it in that sense, like ‘that’ll work.’ It’s the same thing I say to taxi drivers when they ask me questions about how to get to my destination. Somehow we almost always end up in the right place. Apparently I’m just pretty good at directions in Shanghai.)
The waitress brought out something even more outlandish than what I had expected. It was soup with all kinds of vegetables. There was the bak choi I loved, but it brought a bunch of ugly friends to the party; there was some sort of hot-dog/ham meat concoction, little celery sticks, a black rubbery thing that tasted like eggs, and a clear, brown, gelatinous substance. At the bottom of the bowl, after dispatching all the bak choi and celery, I found a big hunk of the stuff, and realized the black rubbery thing was the same as the clear gelatinous thing, somehow. I decided not to analyze too deeply.
Let’s go back to the analogy. China left a huge plate of Play-Dough and glitter and chocolate syrup (and everything else which is irresistibly appetizing, incredibly messy, and totally not meant for canine consumption) on the edge of the table, just within the reach of Stomach, and little baby China knows Stomach will jump up, knock plate to the ground where it will shatter, and ingest said myriad of messy, terrible things while spreading the mess all over the house. Now helpless, I recall seeing little baby China place this plate just as I distractedly picked her up to accompany me on a leisurely stroll to the mailbox. There’s a least a 75% chance that there will be a terrible mess. The kitchen will be destroyed. Stomach will be in huge trouble. Unless…
His training has worked? Maybe… he is ready for this. Maybe, just maybe, he can pull through!
Sigh. This happens at least twice a week. Nothing to do about it now. Just enjoy the walk to the mailbox, and don’t think about what is waiting for you when you get home…