Sunday, January 26, 2014

Papas and Popcorn Twilight Zone at the Golden Gate Bridge

The “Where Am I?” moment can happen to anyone.   Driving down a well known road, you take a detour and suddenly the surroundings turn lush and rich and you think, “How have I not discovered this route before?”
It’s the same with your children.  Arriving downstairs on a Saturday morning to fresh pancakes left to cool on the counter under gobs of syrup and little faces in costumes constructed of cardboard boxes and magic marker’d toilet paper mache’d swans dancing to The Nutcracker Suite and you think, “Have I traveled into another dimension, not only of sight and sound but...of mind?”
Living in Asia is like this.  Every day something happens that is so bizarre and unexplainable, familiar yet queerly straight out of the Twilight Zone.  Yesterday, it was Papas with Popcorn.
Papas with Popcorn is a lovely idea cooked up by my youngest daughter’s kindergarten teacher where fathers come in and read a book to an captivated audience of six-year-olds seated on the classroom carpet munching popcorn and listening intently.  Mr. Hartenstein was on the docket for yesterday and I was ready.  Of course, Asia threw me a curve.
Foolishly I thought, “Certainly the 7-Eleven across the street from the school  will have microwavable popcorn!” And so I passed a dozen or so convenience stores before entering my selected shop, only to find…they don’t carry popcorn!  What?  So I throw together a weird Charlie Brown labeled synthetic sugary substitute and head inside.  The class is fine.  Such sweet little faces...
But immediately after the reading, all the rich Taiwanese mothers were allowed back into the classroom for a birthday party which was catered by McDonald's.  Yes, Asian McDonald's caters.  And so every child was given a Ronald McDonald Happy Meal with cheeseburger and Mc-corn soup and toy Grimmace pencil case to assemble and a wall of cell phone and tripod and iPad tablet cameras came out to capture the precious moment of their child sucking down a Mickey Mouse cookie and there was a video of a flying Jesus in a Superman costume playing on the projector and a Philippine housemaid wiping the mouth of a little boy who was throwing a fit on the floor and all the parents were chattering in Chinese and I stepped back and watched and steadied my dizzy head and thought… well, you know what I thought.

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