Thursday, October 05, 2017


Late lunch or early dinner yesterday at a restaurant where they know me. Quiet, before the rush of old folks happily discussing fish (they are Cantonese, so naturally fish is the most important thing to decide upon), and the only people there apart from the staff are Caucasians. I could have pretended to need the bathroom so that I could pass their tables to scope out what they had ordered -- being naturally curious -- but I could see a large platter of egg rolls arriving at one table already, and I was too busy reading the wall-specials anyway after telling the waiter what I wanted.
I had intended to get a spicy eggplant dish.
But I asked for something else.

Chinese walls have text.
Lots of it.

In addition to numerous names of dishes, some special some not, there were also a number of examples of calligraphy, probably done by old friends of the family. Regular evenly spaced characters with idiosyncrasies, where the brush in the hand offered an exciting possibility that had to be expressed. Sometimes a stroke terminates with a thin swoop into the next word or line, sometimes extra weight emphasizes a sense of balance. It's rhythmic, and a pattern of regular thick ends highlights a directionality. The eye is drawn in, and follows the strangers hand as it rolls down the sheet.
I know nothing about the scribe, but I imagine him.
Very likely he is rather like Chew-sook.
Short. Impish. Round headed.
And probably balding.

The last time anyone saw Chew-sook was before he and Ms. Wong had a falling out. It was after a two month visit from his Taiwan wife, nearly a year after his Malaysia wife had been in San Francisco, and also after the Hong Kong wife. For a man in his seventies, he still has an active and vibrant life.
I suspect that in addition to the wives and their living quarters overseas, he also maintains business interests in those places, and has already started sending grandkids to university there.

I know he sings opera; we've discussed a few favourites.
And he probably also practises calligraphy.

Chicken and mushrooms, rice.
Soup, tea, oranges.

I wandered down Commercial Street with my pipe afterward, till I saw someone I wished to avoid and cut over to Sacramento. Past the Embarcadero Centers, then over to the parrots in the park.
After finishing my smoke I caught the bus home.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

No comments:

Search This Blog


Several years ago I had a coworker down the peninsula who would leave work related voicemails on people's answering machines all weekend...