Tuesday, December 10, 2019


When I got to the bakery it had started to rain. Apparently I am highly perspicacious and foresightful for having carried an umbrella with me, but in truth I left the house late, could see the sky already lowering, and even the slightest precipitation can dismay, torment, and hamper a pipe smoker.
So nothing, really. No prescience involved. Just caution.

One of the women who works there is someone whom I've know for years, since when she was working at a different business up the street. After that changed hands she worked for a while where I sometimes get a bowl of jook (with a yau tiu), now she's landed firmly on her feet at a good place.

But I know everyone there anyway. I'm sort of the resident eccentric old kwailo who speaks Cantonese relatively decently, and I doubt that there are more than a handful of us in the city.

Oh and I tip reasonably well. One should always tip in a way that says one wants to be welcomed back, rather than perfunctorily and penuriously.
It's a question of both one's own self respect as well as face.

What no one who works there needs to know is that Kwailo Uncle is not a successful man as they would count it, meaning that he does not have family in the immediate area, is not married and never had children, and insofar as he has any significant other(s), has an erstwhile girlfriend who is still a very good friend, and a totally imaginary girlfriend who he seldom ever mentions, because she does not exist.

It was coming down steadily when I left the bakery after tea and lit up my pipe. My imaginary girlfriend, who is considerably younger than me, probably rushed out of the house on her way to work this morning, and consequently got quite soaked by this evening's rain. And had to take a hot shower when she got home just to warm up. I am imagining goose bumps.
I hope the central heating works in her apartment.

I am imagining soft flannel jammies too.

My imaginary girlfriend also has stuffed animals with which to cuddle for comfort when it's cold outside, because every nice person needs stuffed animals. This is important.

At this moment she smells delicately of soap. I myself smell delicately of some very good Virginia tobacco right now, having done a full bowl while sheltering under awnings in Chinatown and on Polk Street, sort of a classic fragrance, which is very proper given that the pipe I was smoking was made nearly a decade before I was born, and suited to old-fashioned leaf.

My stuffed animals say that I stink a bit. As they cannot wait to tell my imaginary girlfriend when they finally meet her.

I am not at all sure how my imaginary girlfriend feels about smoking.
I haven't gotten that far yet.

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