Chopsticks was a song I played on the piano. Then my friend wore them in her hair. Then someone gave me some which I lost on the way to somewhere else, and now, every time I think I know about them I realize there are at least two more things I don’t know.
When I first moved to Saigon and I was still staying in the tourist district, which I have since found out is actually Saigon, although the whole city goes by the name now, I was hanging out with an Australian guy who could not use them: I took a whole meal’s worth of noodles showing him how to use them while some passersby shot photos.
Just yesterday I learned to take the ones that facing down because flies land on them. Plain bun, spinach, hopefully plain, hot sauce (really hot!) bean sprouts, mint, lime, lime, lime, limes face down.
After school Mme. Tuhy is chopping fruit she says “eat everything:” baby bananas, mango, sour cherry-grapes, grapefruit, dragonfruit… and she puts a bowl of rice in front of me which is awesome, I love rice.
So I am thinking nothing could be better being at school all day and walking home in the rain, and then the Frenchman pours me a beer. The Indonesian guy next to me goes oh, you drink? I was raising my glass to the Frenchman at the time or I would have spit out beer. The Frenchman would have gotten it, he always nods with me as though I am saying wise things.
So I am happy as a clam picking away at the rice and the fruit with my chopsticks and Jonny next to me is laughing. “We do not eat the fruit with the rice.” He motions to meat moves it closer to me. I keep on eating the grapes, but I like Jonny.
I put some rice in a lettuce leaf with my chopsticks and roll it up: this he cannot believe; he looks at Mme. Tuhy and the Frenchman as if to make sure they are seeing what he is seeing, but Mme. Tuhy is on the phone and the Frenchman is watching soccer. I wonder what he would have done if I’d thrown a mango in there.
Jonny gets up to go but sits back down. When I can’t eat anymore I set my chopsticks down carefully, silently. As I am saying goodnight I notice he is making a perfect ninety-degree angle with them and the edge of the table.