Sometimes, I wonder if we were better listeners before we came to the United States. When we first arrived in 1990, my untainted ears still longed for the steadiness of a storyteller’s tone. In the evenings when mothers called their kids home for dinner and crickets began their soothing songs, my siblings and I gathered around Dad to hear sweeping tales of monsters and heroes and magic in a tradition that had been practiced long before a book, a TV or a tablet became the norm.
I take a deep breath as I walk into the dark theater with several Hmong girlfriends from work. It’s 11:00 AM on a Friday, and the only people in the theater are us, a few rows of senior citizens, and a couple here and there. All week I’ve been reading the reviews for Crazy Rich Asians, watching the cast do interviews, witnessing this momentous event every step of the way. It’s been on my calendar for a whole year. As my girlfriends and I sit down to wait for the lights to dim and for the trailers to start playing, I only had one thought in my head. Gosh, please don’t suck.
A couple of years ago, I read a fantasy novel that opened with the main character eating an apple on her way to market, and before that I read a fantasy novel where the main character and her companion packed bread and apples as their meal for their long, horseback trek across a kingdom to participate in a war that was devastating the countryside. Not gonna name any names or titles, but I was like, “Enough with the apples!” C’mon people. Can’t we do something different? Can’t we offer these characters some rice or something? Or maybe a cucumber?
Literally. There is shit all over my black boots. The chicken kind, to be exact. It’s dry and green, brown and yellow, all the pretty colors of the shit rainbow, and it’s screaming at anyone and everyone proudly: I ammmm poooooop!
I pause in the middle of the lobby in the building where I work. My boots look like a mistake against the pristine floor. I look up. No one has noticed. Everyone is too busy trying to get to their respective offices. For a moment I think about driving all the way back home. I think about calling Alex and asking him to bring me another pair of shoes. I think about all the ways I could’ve dressed this morning, about the black pencil skirt hanging in my closet and the green summer dress that hid all my tummy fat.
Then I thought, “Oh, piss off inner voice. I’m proud of the chicken poop on my boots.”