Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Charades ... no words needed

The other night, I was taking a bus with my Chinese friend downtown. We were both going downtown, but for different purposes. She was going to a meeting, and I was going to the supermarket. After enjoying a pleasant conversation with her on the bus, mostly in English, we got off the bus together. Instantly, the bus "English stalkers," who had been sitting near us, moved in, seemingly "unaware" of the other's intention. One middle-aged woman was at my friends' side, asking her how she spoke English so well. The other, was at my side, starting with the ever-foreboding, "Excuse me, are you an English teacher?" Just like that, my friend and I were cut off from each other, thereby giving the "stalkers" the upper edge. While my friend and her "stalker" were a few steps ahead, I followed close behind, hardly able to hear my thoughts under the onslaught of trite questions being hurled at me like a freight train afraid of stopping for fear of wasting time. What I do remember from the conversation was that this boy had just graduated from the University and was taking one of the English tests to study abroad. Ahh, I couldn't catch much more than that as my mind was swirling with how to get to the supermarket in one piece while still maintaining principles of brotherly / sisterly kindness. At just that moment, my friend's "stalker" left her and she was able to see the predicament I was in. The persistent "stalker" asked where I was going. I foolishly told him the Supermarket. "Wow" he said excitedly. "I will accompany you. This is my chance, a great opportunity for me." "Ah," I cringed under my skin. At that moment, I wanted to be very direct with this boy and explain how very rude and overbearing he was being. But, I couldn't even think straight, and I didn't know how to escape the situation. I started to speak Chinese with him; it didn't work. Finally, I put my hands up to my head like I had just gotten a terrible migraine, and I cringed my face a little like I was about to cry. The effect worked; "stalker boy" asked, "I'm sorry, did something I say interrupt you?" I continued the expression; it was the only thing communicating better than my words could. The expression also spoke loudly to my Chinese friend who took over handling the situation for me; she explained to "stalker" that I didn't know him and it was uncomfortable for me to go with a stranger to the Supermarket. Being suddenly struck by either his own awkwardness or the tempermentalness of this foreigner, he turned around quickly and walked the other way.

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