Category Archives: Cute

Full Range

The Budget Inn Patricia is situated in downtown Vancouver in an area filled with vagrants. Yesterday night on my way home I saw a guy with his back to the sidewalk in the entrance nook of a store that was closed. At first, I thought he was doing something with the door, but I saw that his left arm was straight and his right arm was bent. He seemed to be taking care to do something with his right arm. Shooting up? I wondered.

Approaching the hotel, and getting ready to cross the street, there was a woman on the corner in jeans and a black tank top, looking around as if she were looking for someone. She would turn her head quite suddenly as she scanned. She turned and looked at me as I was crossing the street. Just then, there was a woman she knew who approached from the right, who called out to her, and they talked animatedly. As I neared the kerb, there was a tall skinny guy walking a erratically, but singing a jingle. The second woman seemed to like the jingle, because she laughed out loud. As I stepped on the curb, the man passed in front of me, continuing to sing, but eyeing me out of the corner of his eye with caution. I smiled in a relaxed way, and he responded by continuing on his way, but turning his head more toward me and nodding a little bit.

I’m staying at this hotel because it’s the only one in downtown within the company budget.

Sunday night, on my way back to the hotel, there was a man yelling at a group of people lined up outside a pizzeria. He was mostly incoherent to me, but I understood the words “all of you can fucking go starve.” He was very animated and loud. As I crossed the street, I heard him say something about communism, but all of his anger was directed through me to the group of people behind me. He had deliberately put the street in between him and the people he was yelling at, and was directing all of his energy forwards, so that as I crossed the street and passed him by, it was as if I did not exist for him, as if he did not see me at all. Like I’m a cameraman and they he and his antagonists are acting for me.

When I checked in on Sunday afternoon, my cousin, her son, and my aunt came with me. After check-in, we stood in the shade on a street corner a ways away from the bus stop. We were talking about how funny we thought it was that the young clerk (from Brazil by his accent) and the older clerk kept talking about whether another guest was interested in the young clerk, while the young guy was preparing my check-in paperwork. They had continued to talk about it while my cousin, her son, and my aunt waited in the lobby while I took my luggage to my room. Just then:

“Yo. Can you guys move?” Asked a man who just arrived.

I looked at him. “Why?” I asked. He lowered his head a little, crossed his arms, and pulled his shoulders in ever so slightly. He did not face me full on with his body. I was closest to him. My cousin with the stroller to my left, my aunt to my right. They stepped slightly back.

“Because I work here and I’m about to open this store, okay?” He gestured behind himself with his thumb. “And I can’t open it with you guys blocking the door.”

I looked. Ng Suey San Florist, said the sign. I wondered if Mr. Ng would hire someone like this. Probably not.

“We’re waiting for the bus. It’s hot. We wanted to wait in the shade.” I stepped laterally, putting myself between him and my aunt.

“Well, can you wait at the bus stop? I need to open this store.” The man had a scar on his left forearm that looked like the scars that my friend Arji has from a bar fight that he got into, where the guy he was fighting had fought him with a broken beer bottle. Only with this man, he was wounded in a strange place – the inner, upper surface of his left arm, which indicated that someone had got him with his hand down.

I looked toward the bus stop. The sidewalk was clear. I looked at my cousin and nodded. She started moving toward the bus stop, my Aunt followed, and I brought up the rear.

“That’s why they make bus stops, you know?” He said, wanting to get a last word in. I was amused. No cursing, and no racial slurs. He’s a polite vagrant, I thought. It may have been because I was so calm and polite with him, that he had to stay in character.

There came a shorter skinny guy with long blonde hair. They bumped fists in greeting and talked. Opening shop. Drug dealer? I wondered.

Our bus came, and we were off.

For much less than the Hyatt, and the same price as staying at a duller hotel in the suburbs, I get to stay here. In twenty minutes’ walking radius are where the rich people park their yachts, the young people go out partying, and immediately outside, where homeless and vagrants do their thing, until (one can hope) they get things sorted out. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and do not smell.

Fucking brilliant! I feel alive – walking, observing, interacting confidently. Save for putting my cousin and aunt in an uncomfortable situation on Sunday afternoon, all of this is amusing for me. It is a chance to practice being relaxed, aware, and masculine.

Monday morning, as I am getting ready to cross the street away from the hotel, I hear a motorcycle horn honking from my right. He waits until a car passes, then makes a u-turn in the street in front of me. He has the tatoos, a black motorcycle skull cap, and round sunglasses, but he is on an electric motor scooter resembling a Vespa. He is wearing a silly grin. It seems like he saw someone he knew. He accelerates steeply and silently in the direction from where he came. It occurs to me that he is aware and having fun. For me it’s like this place is allowing me to open up my awareness, and detect it when others are. I feel aware and am having fun, too.

How could I possibly want to stay anywhere else?

歳を超える

同僚とキャンプをしている。二十人、内子どもが六人。食べる量について話した。俺がご飯筒だと同僚が言った。「食べ残しがあったら、ジェイソンが始末できるから、たくさん炊いていいよ!」と同僚が言った。「会社の人と食べていて、皆ははもう食べ終わったのに、こいつがまだ蔥油餅を頼んでいるのよ。」

何でそんなに食べられるの?と高校生が聞いた。

同僚は「彼は大人だから。」と説明したが、それが俺にとって不思議に聞こえた。なぜなら、俺が年齢的には高校生と同僚の間にいる。確かに俺は大人だけど、気持ち的に高校生にも遠くなく、高校生の頃の俺も投票権もあって、自分の事が大人と思った。むしろ高校生とずっとゲームを遊んで、精神的に高校生に近い。

精神年齢は身体の年齢とは別。もう一つそれを思ったのは昨晩踊りに行った時。年寄りの白人がいた。名前は南米っぽいとしか覚えてないが、踊らずに座って踊る人を見て絶えずに微笑んでいた。見た目、歳が八十を超えているだろう、しかも太っていたから、自由に踊れなかっただろう。お連れの方が中国系イギリス人。おそらく歳が四十歳当たり。年寄がすっと見ても踊らないから、お連れが「ほら見ているんじゃねいよ!踊ってよ!」といったら、年寄りが照れ気味の笑を立てて。笑ながらも、いきが浅く聞こえて、肺臓が良くないだろうとが、受けた印象は中学生がダンスに行って女の子を誘いたいけど、照れて誘えないとお変わらなかった。とても可愛いと思った。年を取っても、若い。

ここのキャンプである高校生の女子がいる。カードゲームを教えてくれた。俺の事を小父さんと呼んだ。
「私は中国語が小父さんの母国語ではないとよく忘れて、話すのが速すぎるだろう。」という。
カードゲームを教えると、続けてカードを並べて、俺の理解を確認する。「このカードの役は?これは?これは?」と。
友達がお腹が痛くてトイレにいくと「お父さん、○子がお腹痛くて、トイレに行ったよ。」とさりげなくにいう、お父さんが、「じゃあ、出たら薬いるか聞いてみるね。」
そして、誰と話しても、顔の表情が豊かで、自分らしい大人の気質だと思った。高校生でも、大人。

現代化同時流失的

我有個朋友, 有一次他跟我講他小時候去他奶奶家裡玩, 有鄰居會大常來, 明明已經來了太久該走也不會走. 他奶奶會說一句台語, 我已經記得不清楚了, 翻成國語好像是「磅稱少了一兩」比喻他們鄰居的頭腦還差點什麼的, 不玩整.

我聽到這個覺得很可愛, 同時覺得很可惜. 台語特有的比喻和世界觀, 台語保留著的上古漢語的發音, 將和台語一起消失. 我這個外國人的台語以經講得比台北的很多年輕人好了.

通過國語教育得到的很多, 但這不是沒有代價的.

蜘蛛是我个細漢朋友

阮兜有幾若个細蜘蛛、予我食蟲。灶跤个用網掠。便所个嘛有網仔、我嘛看有伊用跳个掠。我第一改看著伊个時、伊咧洗面槽下跤。我跪落去好好看、拄好看著伊跳一下、掠著佇消水空遐一隻細蟲。感謝你、我个細漢朋友。

嘛有這隻蹛佇客廳。下昏暗才發現伊。

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