Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bite Me, Fur Elise

I’m standing in the open air restaurant stall trying to order with my daughters guy beneath me on my right is sitting at a metal table dipping steamed dumplings in a plastic cup of soy sauce, pink ginger cut in strips hanging from his lips, he’s smoking and smacking his tongue against his teeth, woman to the left is screaming at the top of her lungs, telling some wild story to a grandmother behind the counter in yellow silk blouse whose eyes are closed while the metal lids drip black broth onto the kitchen sidewalk floor, and the words roll on and on and we wait to be served, it’s 4 p.m. in the afternoon on a Sunday and I’m in Asia.
The man in the park won’t let me take his picture, he stops strumming his violin and puts down the bow in a pouty frown as a woman approaches and takes my cell phone right out of my hand and begins to make a call, she waves, “Sah-ree,” we are along the main city thoroughfare and an ambulance is having great difficulty passing as no cars are pulling off to the side, sirens blazing, stuck in unmovable gridlock, shrill sirens ringing through our ears, and I have been looking for over an hour for paper plates for my daughter’s birthday party that afternoon and finally find them, a package of four, four paper plates made out of un-biodegradable asbestos and led, it’s 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I am in Asia.
An explosion catches my attention, I am leaving class in the twilight, harried wind breaking rigid across leafless biceps of arbor brown, the buses honking, the motorscooters dodge and weave, parents in sedans jockey for position, the children in little uniforms tote rolley backbacks and wide eye confusion, a saudade of malaise as the asphalt rips apart and the construction crews pummel the black ashen stone, just last week they filled these gutters with cement after repairing a water main, now they must dig it up again to install the valves, I am in a stupor, it is 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and my five year old has two hours of homework tonight because we have chosen to live in Asia.
In the mid-afternoon I drift off to sleep, little pitter-patter daughter toes tapping shiatsu on my back as I lay face down on the pleather couch, there is no wind but dry heat permeating every pore, even the grass blades have thrown in the towel, outside the park is lifeless in the blazing aurora borealis of burning gamma, the door to the apartment suddenly opens and my landlord appears without warning, he’s come with a team of engineers to look at the mold on the air-conditioning unit, we asked him to come tomorrow but he is here now, just walking into my apartment without knocking, just turning his key and entering and now he is standing with five men in hardhats strapped around their chins and work belts and green long uniform pants in my living room and not one of them has said a word in my direction, and outside, from 19 floors up, the roaring blaring screaming of the garbage trucks pass by belting out Beethoven’s Fur Elise as a sign to all the housewives it’s time to bring out the trash, Fur Elise from garbage truck sirens bouncing off the city walls and I am standing looking dumfounded at men in my apartment at 1:15 on my day-off because, yes, I live in Asia.

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