So I went back to the U.S. last month and were there questions for me. It all started with the Olympics. What is the decathlon? What are the rules for the water polo? What is the heptathlon? Why did the Chinese athletes get disqualified from the badminton? Why did this guy get taken out for a penalty? Why are you watching the wrestling so much? Why are the Jamaicans so good at running? Why are the English so good at cycling and rowing? Why did the Chinese guy get screwed in the rings? How can the Americans win so many metals? How much rain does it take to rain out a beach volleyball game?
And the questions continued, but this time it was time for me to translate. How do you say this in Chinese? How do you say chopped, scorned, spoiler, show biz, ratatouille, or bipartisan. Here I thought my Chinese was good. Not in the least.
Then it came down to my knowledge of American culture. Why are there so many football fields, so many baseball fields, so many tennis courts, so many basketball courts, and there are no badminton courts? How can this line for this ice cream shop be so long? Why is this toll so expensive? Why did your mom leave your father, and why did she stay with your stepfather?
And then came the strange questions from my daughter. Daddy can you itch my eye? Here I thought she was learning proper English in the U.S., but no. What’s this bird’s name? Why is daddy not drinking while we are here? Why is daddy not smoking while we are here? Can you not stop moving me?
Then the questions when I came back. Why are these people cutting in line? Why is this water so cheap? Why did you not come to see me? Why couldn’t you come? I didn’t have a license. I couldn’t drive a car. I’m sorry. I couldn’t get one because the DMV wouldn’t let me get one. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t let me get me one, but they have their rules so I guess that they’ve got their rules.
There’s a couple more questions. Why don’t you replace the glass in your window? It’s broken. Somebody has broken the window since you’ve been gone. How the heck has this happened while I’ve been gone? I’ve only been gone a month or so, and how the heck has this happened? Oh well, shit happens now doesn’t it? And all I can hear is the crashing of glass in my ears. And all I can do is call the dude that smashed the window. And all he can say is he’s sorry. Oh well, see this needle, see my hand, dropping it down, oh so gently…
By Tim Hoerle