So I woke up the other day, and I was called stupid. The night before, I was told that we needed to go to get some kind of document for my passport. That blah blah blah document I needed to get for my passport wasn’t important for me at the time, but by the time we actually had to get out of the house to get that document, I wanted to know exactly what it was. So I asked, and I was called stupid for forgetting what that was. The truth of the matter was that I never knew exactly what that thing was. I just nodded and put it off until I thought I needed to know, which was at the time before we were heading out to get it. This kind of thing happens to me often, and I should know better next time. I simply agree to do something without asking what it is before I do it. Like the other day, when one of the women in our kitchen told me we needed to get blah blah blah something. I couldn’t understand what she said, but I knew it was some noun, so I agreed. Then before I knew it, I had huge bowl of sweet soup in front of me. I should have asked what it was. Not like it would have mattered because how the hell am I supposed to know what blah blah blah soup is? So I did the only thing a man can do in the situation: I ate it all with a smile on my face.
She then told us the story about how a local temple produces tons of this soup every year to give out for free, and the frenzy to get that handout gets so bad that sometimes fights break out. I tried my best to simultaneously interpret this funnily ironic story to a few friends, and it was then that I realized how liberal I was being in my interpretations. I was changing verbs into other verbs that I can only hope to know one day in Chinese, but I did, so fluently, I could have fooled the best of them. Is this what my life is coming to? Me interpreting everything as I please; when I please? But then again, how long would it have taken me to regurgitate the story if I had to ask her for the exact meaning of each and every one of her words? It would have totally disrupted the flow. Or maybe I shouldn’t be so sensitive when people call me stupid, and realize that knowing we had to get some sort of document was more than sufficient. That’s it. And I did eat that soup with a genuine grin on my face, and now I can say the word, “notarize,” in Chinese. And haven’t I been called a foolish idiot many times before? Time to get used to it!
By Tim Hoerle