Meathead

圖/阮光民illustration by the writer, of the man he’d, interviewed, off of UDN.com…

From all walks of life, translated…

He’d twisted open the bottle, and pointed to the opening told me, “This, is called the meathead, the standard thickness is 1.75 millimeters.”

“Cleaning the parts, welding the parts together……I’d, learned it all.  At age fifteen, I’d ridden my bicycle out to work, earned $80N.T. per day.  My older sister made fun of me, how long would it take you, to make as much as an operator does?  Two years ago, my wages are $3,000N.T. more than hers, I’d learned everything, that way, I can, do everything.  I’d became a business owner at twenty-six, but, id not sold off the parts, but instead, I’d repaired all the parts and maintained them for the other factories.”

I’d asked this 65-year-old middle aged man, who’d looked more like he was only fifty-five, if he was, left handed?  He’d told me he was dexterous, that it was a needed skill for operating the machinery, otherwise, when he wasn’t careful enough, he’d, get injured.”  He’d opened up his palm, pointed to the palm under his right thumb, “after you got your flesh shaved off, it doesn’t, grow back, can you tell?”, then, pointed to the severed off palm print to his left hand, “my severed palm print was made, by the stitches.”

I’d loved hearing tales of how the scars came about, even if they were, made up, they were still, fact-based.

I’d recalled that my eldest uncle had a wound that resembled a bullet hole, he’d told me it was from a gunshot wound when he went to war, back as a kid, I’d, believed him, but my mother told me, that it was from the intubation he had when he was younger.

And so, each and every one of our scars, made us into who we are today, like for the man who got his thumb shaved off, he’d worked with his hands, and, although he is considered a blue collar worker, he still felt proud of what he does for a living, and takes pride and joy in working in putting together the cars.

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A Small Journey

This young child with autism, given some time, slowly, adjusted, to the norms of socialization on his own, and, the parents’ worries were, excessive, it turns out!  Translated…

Before Strong started school, the anxiety meters that we’re experiencing busted (fine, maybe, it’s, just mine!), a week before school started, I’d already, started setting up the hours of operations, taking the weekends off, first, we took Strong to the Moonlight & Oceans Music Fest in Taidong.  Recalling how being very sensitive to sounds, last year, as we’d gone, he’d started screaming and crying that he wanted to leave, and, as we got outside of the concert, out on the sidewalks, he’d started, playing with the tiles on the ground, we’d not, gotten the opportunities to enjoy the music, to be in the concert, to feel the live performances; but this year, he was willing, to allow us to go to the outermost side, to blow the bubbles, to play with him, as we’d, gazed up the moon from afar, hearing the music of Wanfang Lin and Yujung Wang, on our way back, we’d gone to wetlands in Hualien to hear the rehearsals of the bands, for almost half an hour.

This two nights one day trip, we’d stayed in the car longer than we’re out of it, watching the scenes flow right by us, kept turning our heads around, singing to Strong, playing with him, tickling him, I’d carried on in casual conversation with Daddy Strong too, and, watched Strong’s reaction as we arrived at each of the sights we visited, I’d felt, “he really is, growing up!”, and I’d, felt a bit, saddened, that this trip was, lasting too short, fearing, that he might get too deep into his mind at school after he started it, to shut the world out, to become, an odd duck in his class.

Thankfully, on his first day, we’d taken him to the class to send him on that huge granite slide, as we’d heard the teacher explained what was expected of the new students, and what to watch out for in school, and as we’d turned to leave after we said goodbye, I’d turned my head around to look, found that he’d wanted to chase after us, but his teacher diverted his attention quickly enough, into the games; I’d stayed outside the door of the class, listening in, he’d not cried, neither had we, there’s just that feeling of, not knowing where we’re, headed next, what we’re, to do next?

After I’d discussed it with Daddy Strong, we’d gone to the press conference of our friend, without a political party, running for office, then, we’d, parked back at the bookstore, hand-in-hand, we’d, taken that stroll from the Mei-Lun Creek to the small diner of one of our customers from the shop, we’d found the crabs, walking on the riverbeds, and, as we waited for the lunch to get served, I’d checked my cell repeatedly, worried that we might miss the call from Strong’s teacher telling us to come pick him up, until the meal was served, we’d started, enjoying our lunch together, as we read the book from our shop, and found a way to operate the bookshop so it fulfills the mind, and the body at the same time and we’d, decided, to adjust the hours of operations, to give ourselves more time to spend with each other, as well as spending more time with Strong, to increase our income, and have more time to make our shared dreams come true.

After we finished lunch, we’d worked at the shop for a little while, and couldn’t wait to pick Strong up from school, and she told us he’d only cried for the nap hours when he didn’t see me, for half an hour before he fell asleep, and, had fed himself with a spoon too, with the teacher teaching him how, it’d, let me let out a sigh of relief, at least, he was, interacting with his teacher, wasn’t screaming endlessly, or with his eyes, glued to the ceiling fans either.

I believe, that we can all, grow in our new stages of life together, and I’m, looking forward to that day to come now.

And so, this still showed, how every child has her/his own schedule to growing up, there’s no one-size fit all, and, just because a kid is a bit slower to adapt to the new environments, that doesn’t mean that s/he can’t adapt, it just, take the child a little more time than the “average” kid is all!

Across the County Line…

The border of the county line, marked the love we once, shared, and beyond it, our love practically, never, existed…

Across the county line was, where we first met, when I first, laid my eyes on you, you were, oh so, attractive, just, going about your day, and you don’t even realize, that I’d been, watching you, for awhile, just waiting, for my courage, to finally come, so I can, finally say “hi” to you, and when I had, it started, this love of ours!

查看來源圖片separating you and me…photo found online…

Across the county line, that, was where we found love one night, and, on another night like the one we’d found love, love died.  Love came, just as, quickly as, it went away, but how?  I thought our love was built to last for the long run, but it didn’t, even though, everybody said that we were, the ones who’d, made it together, ‘til the end, but, we’d, ended up, disappointing them all, haven’t we???

Across the county line, that is, where ALL the memories were, laid to rest, inside that ill-kept cemetery, and, I never go there again, ‘cuz I got no need of a reminder, of how our love was, murdered!

And now, I live, across the county line, from where all that happened, distanced myself, from everything that used to be what I loved oh so very much………

 

The Biggest Fears of an Elderly: Being Scatterbrained

You were, scatterbrained, and now, you’d, forgotten more and more, slowly, that, would be a sign, of dementia, I suppose, or maybe, you’re just, plain forgetful, who knows???  Translated…

The luncheon after the reading club, everybody pays $230 N.T., I took out a $500, and took the bill to the counter; the change I made, I’d, counted, and recounted them, how come, there’s, extra?  And so, I’d, given the change to my friends, and, as the extra cash was split up among them, Wen-Ching who sat next to me, asked, “Hua, did you not count your own change?”, as I’d opened up my small wallet, yup!  I took out a $500, and now, there’s, nothing in my wallet!  It’s a wonder, that ever since, I’d been voted, as the one, who goes to the counter to pay all the bills………

To the market places, a t-shirt that costs $370, “can you give me two for $800?”, then I saw the store clerk grinning ear to ear, and nodded, like he feared I might change my mind.  Had it not be my neighbor who’d reminded me, “Do you have HOLES in your brains???”, I must have believed that I’d bills, then, took out totally, also make the store clerk happy as well.

I’d gone to the super convenience shop at the entrance of my alley to pay a bill, the handsome clerk stated, “Your total comes up to $4,802”, I took out five $1,000 and rummaged through my coin purse for the $80 in change, and tried to stop the clerk from making change to me, “Wait, here’s eighty dollars!”, the handsome lad was, stumped for a bit, then laughed aloud, “Miss, it’s $4,802, not $4082!”, I’d started staring at him, with that blank expression, as he pointed to the cash register monitor, I was, drawing a blank…………

I’m not just an idiot in math, I’m also, a lost soul on the road, I’d once, hit the walls, so many time, in the C.K.S. Memorial Hall, from one side entrance, to the other side entrance, then, into the main entrance, still couldn’t find that exit for Ai-Guo West Road.  And, I’m way, way, WAY off on the MRTs, from the Taipei Main Station to Danshui, after I’d arrived in Beitou, I’d taken the train back to Yuanshan, and found it was the wrong way, gotten off, rushed into train on the other side, and I got to Beitou, but, somehow, transferred to New Beitou.

圖/蔡侑玲

it’s like that all right, illustraion from the papers…

As I’d gone abroad, I’d lost, a ton of my things; my hat, at the home in the small grass hut village, my handbag, left, on the shuttle towards the northeast of China, lost my passport, at the chair of the airport at northern Thailand; as I’d left the hotel in Northern Thailand with the tour group, walked to the elevator, I’d realized, that I didn’t bring along my luggage; as I’d, hiked, and wanted a drink, it’d dawned on me, hey, how come, I feel, so light, I’d, left my pack at the resting gazebo!

The movie ticket set I bought last year, I’d turned the house upside down, and still couldn’t find it, until a few days ago, I couldn’t, find my MRT card, I can only, take out my spare, and, there they were, the EIGHT movie passes, thankfully, they hadn’t expired yet.

My good friend made fun, “thankfully, your head was connected to your neck at birth, otherwise, you would’ve, lost that too!”, being scatterbrained when you’re younger, that’s called forgetful, but, in the elderly years, it’s called, Alzheimer’s, being forgetful, can be troubling, but, being demented, that should be, too awful.  Could it be, that I’d, drunk too much water from the River of Forgetfulness in the past life, that I can’t remember these smaller matters in this?  Thankfully, I still remembered, to follow the right people out, to buy the blue chip stocks, to marry a man, who’s, more intelligent than I am!

And so, despite her forgetfulness, this woman still, managed all right, it’s just, that these smaller things, can become troubling to others around you, and, forgetfulness, may be, an early sign of dementia, so, that’s, something this person needs to, watch out for…

 

A Kiss Goodbye…

The last memories the two of you shared, is all that’s, left of that very first feeling of love you’d felt toward someone else, translated…

She’d, stood there, like a naturally illuminating object, her beautiful ponytail swayed from left to right, as she carried on in conversation, if there were, boys who were, bold enough, to play with that head of black long hair, to make friends with her, I certainly, wouldn’t be, surprised one bit!  But I’m not that kind, I only dared, folded up the note I’d, written to her, and, stuffed the note, into her hands when a chance came by.  A few days later, she’d, handed me a note, with her home phone number on it, and I’d, carried it with me wherever I went.

Our first kiss was beneath that big tree in the park close to the school, the girl’s lips were, soft and sweet, but, it’d, told me of, how there was a social in her all-girls’ high school that will be held in a few days, which she’d, tested into, and in two days, as school started, I shall be, going with the couple of boys who got into their first choices too.  I’d wondered on, was this, a round-and-about way that she was, saying goodbye to me?

查看來源圖片you know it’s about to end…not my photograph…

I’d thought about not calling her again, but, my nostalgia accumulated up.  I stood by the public phones, wanting to call her, and that was when I’d found, that the final digits on the piece of paper, I’d not, memorized clearly.  I’d, opened up the note from my pocket, and, the writings were, smeared off by the sweat from my palm.  I’d become flustered, and grabbed the spare changes I had, and started, throwing them in one by one, kept trying at the digits, until my hand became slippery, it couldn’t, hold onto the phone any longer, and the stranger from the other end angrily told me to stop calling………ahhhhhhhhhhhh, how can I, keep on calling this number I once knew so well?

There was nothing I could do, and, as school started, as we got off, I’d, rushed over to the path she took to get home.  After that long, muffled heat, and my stomach growling, I saw her there, with her brand new shiny school uniform, with flowers in her hand, accompanied by good looking guys in a uniform……I suppose, that the social went accordingly then?

There was, that tightness from my chest, and I’d, gotten out of the way before she saw me, then, Jacky Cheung’s song came sounding off in my head, “My world started to snow, too cold that I couldn’t, afford to love for one more day……….”, and, that memory of us, kissing by the trees, in the heat of the summer, suddenly, froze, into that unforgettable goodbye kiss.

This, is why first love hurts, because it’s not meant to last, and, because you’re, just starting out in love, you thought it was, forever, but it wasn’t, and it hurt like hell, seeing the girl you loved, in the arms of another, doesn’t it?  It’s all, a part of, the growing up process…

The Key to Giving a Massage, is Fitting to the Body Types

Having a conversation with your massage therapist while he works on your muscles, you’d, learned something about what he does for a living, and his life too, translated…

The big boy before me is already married and had a child, other than earning his certification as a masseur, he’d also earned his physical therapy license too.

I’d asked why he’d started working in this industry, he said that it was the fault of his older classmate of kinesiology major, as it was a hidden rule that the younger schoolmates massaged the older, and he’d, gotten really into it then; it seemed, that he was the only one who’d, gotten into the physical rehabilitation massage business, the rest of his other classmates were all school teachers or trainers at gyms.

He’d told me a word in his business: old spot, meaning that as a client is used to a certain masseur’s methods, or the massage therapists had, helped the client’s body get better, and, the client had, appointed the person every time.

I’d curiously inquired again, “What’s the difference compared to your massage and the massage given by the visually impaired persons?”

“On the physical therapy side, we can see while we fixed other people’s bodies up, for instance, as a client tilted her/his pelvis, we’d, immediately note it, and adjust it for them.  But don’t confuse physical therapy with massage, massage is for the sake of prevention of injuries, it couldn’t help you cure a tumor or something major.”

“I see that you’d taken eight-hours per day shifts, your hand must be sore, huh?”  Seeing how his hands and fingers bent in a larger angle than the ordinary person.

“More or less, and I’d used the oils on my hand, or soaking my hands in warn water to keep my hands well.  But mostly, as I’d started working in this realm, I’d selected the clients with the thick feet or with the callouses on their feet, to practice my strengths.”

“Aren’t you worried, that you might, become some sort of a kung-fu master if you keep on doing it?”, I’d really wanted to ask him that, being a comic artist and all.  After all, as comic artists, we’d, always think up something so out of place like this, something that’s so, unrealistic.

And so, this still just showed, that all line of work that you are doing is fine, so long as you work hard in what you do, soon enough, you will find something that’s, enjoyable, given that you are not just working, to bring home the pay, like this massage therapist realized about himself.

My First Love, in a Freeze Frame

The memories of her first crush, she still recalls it like, it was yesterday!  Translated…

We were reassigned to separate classes in our second year in middle school, I was chosen by the class as the recordkeeper of class activities, I’d gone to the offices to collect the written accords of classroom activities, and, I saw him, standing like a noble, out of the rest of his class.  I’d, taken a mental note of his classroom and name stitched on his uniform, then I’d, casually, walked by his class, and started laughing aloud, to get his attention.

And I had, kept myself unseen on the roof of the school, and used my eyes, to take continual photos of how he’d, played balls on the courts.  And I had, adjusted my route to and from school, and “accidentally” passed by his house, and smiled up at the uniform hung outside with his name stitched on it.

Later he tested into an all-male high school, I’d, entered into an electronics company to work, and as I saw him, rushing to get on the busses with his backpack on his shoulders, I’d felt that my heart skipped a beat still.

My first love, he didn’t even know that I existed, and, I’d, kept the way I felt for him secret for three whole years, until at a reunion, I’d learned, from a former classmate, that he was, then dating my former classmate, and so, as Cinderella, I picked my broom back up, kept sweep, with that prince, riding off on a white horse, time had, blurred out the memories.

I saw him on the streets, with his backpack around his back, rushing for the bus again, I’d, instinctively wanted to chase after him, call his name aloud, asked him how everything was.

As I took that first step out, my daughter grabbed a hold of my shirt, and, it’d, wakened me up: I’m already a mother, a wife, how could he still be just fifteen?

First love, a time that belonged to solely me, sourness, mixed in with the sweetness, forever, in a freeze frame, of that youthful time in my life.

And so, a part of you, stayed in your teenage years, still remembering, how you’d, crushed onto that guy, and, because it was a crush, nothing became of it, and yet, this memory of a crush, it’d, given your life more colors, didn’t it???