Monthly Archives: July 2007

Are You In A Lot Of Pain?

People won­der how it got so far. They ask me if some­thing hap­pened and I tell them, “Yeah…my child­hood”.

They ask me if I hate you, and I tell them “hate” isn’t a strong enough word.

It hurts, does­n’t it? Are you in a lot of pain? Cause I was in a lot of pain.

I’m still try­ing to fix your dam­age. Still try­ing to cov­er up the scars.

You deserve this. You did this to your­self.

And I fuck­ing hope it hurts.

Creatures Of Our Cultures

One or sep­a­rate bills?”, the wait­ress asks us. She has a slight Japanese accent, but aside from her raven hair, her fea­tures are dis­tinct­ly Occidental.

One please”.

We’re treat­ing, Jeff”.

Nope. You guys are in my town.”

What does that have to do with any­thing?”, they ask, and threat­en to leave if I pay. It does noth­ing to con­vince me or change my con­vic­tion.

You guys are a lot more behaved than when I was your age”, says the man sit­ting next to us.

Thumbnail: Teppanyaki Flare 

When the bill comes around, we wrench the tray from each oth­ers hands.

Must be odd”, the man whis­pers to his wife, who’s laugh­ing at us.

But it’s not odd to me. It’s the Chinese way. Like hav­ing too much food when you’re host­ing a par­ty because to run out is the ulti­mate embar­rass­ment.

To me, it’s odd when some­one does­n’t offer to pay.

The same way it’s odd to hear North American peo­ple com­plain about their jobs. To the Chinese, a job is how you take care of your fam­i­ly. It does­n’t mat­ter that it’s mind­less, stress­ful, or hard phys­i­cal labour. You’re just hap­py to have that oppor­tu­ni­ty. All my Canadian Chinese friends feel the same1.

This is how we were raised. It was­n’t a rule that was spo­ken. We learned it by watch­ing our par­ents, who would clip coupons for gro­ceries, only buy clothes on sale, re-use paper by writ­ing over again with dif­fer­ent coloured inks, but go out to feast with ten peo­ple then fight to pay the bill. Sometimes, they’d even get up to find the serv­er to make a pre­emp­tive, sur­rep­ti­tious pay­ment. Occasionally there were spilled drinks and soiled clothes, as the fight became phys­i­cal2. I think it’s nice part of the cul­ture to be so adamant about friend­ship and com­pa­ny.

And I’m glad to be a part of it.

  1. Aaron is prob­a­bly one of the few peo­ple I know who under­stands. He’ll fight with me, not just over a bill when eat­ing out, but for movies, gro­ceries, and oth­er sun­dries. []
  2. I remem­ber a child cry­ing once, a rel­a­tive of a rel­a­tive, think­ing the par­ents were argu­ing with anger. []

Memories Of My Own

They’re out now, the lot of them. Out-of-town­ers who drove five hours to cel­e­brate with one of their own. People I haven’t seen in years. Seven maybe? God, I feel old. I’ve known a few of them since grade three.

But bar hop­ping isn’t my scene. There’s also this dull, nag­ging headache from stay­ing up yes­ter­day into the ear­ly morn­ing. Catching up like old times. I’m remind­ed of the sleep­overs. Summers putting on plays and learn­ing how to make piñatas at Camp Creative. Catching min­nows and cray­fish in the streams back home.

I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son now though. I was a dif­fer­ent per­son from them then even. I nev­er real­ly fit in the group.

Sometimes I look at the pic­tures of their trips and events and I think to myself, “I wish I was more social. I wish I had more mem­o­ries.”

But I know it’s not in me to be social.

I have to her­mi­tize or I get over­stim­u­lat­ed. It took me until my ear­ly twen­ties to come out of my shell. Then I think of the par­ties I’ve been to, the times I’ve had, the pic­tures I’ve tak­en, and real­ize that I do have mem­o­ries.

I have enough.

I have my own.

The Best Part Of My Day

She leans the chair back, my neck to rest in the cra­dle of the wash basin. The water comes out luke­warm. She knows it’s hot out­side.

Shampoo. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. In small cir­cles, her fin­gers work my scalp, mas­sag­ing with­out too much pres­sure, scratch­ing when there is no itch.

This is the best part of my day”, I say.

Mine too”.