Sunday, August 06, 2023


One of the great things about living in the coastal part of the Bay Area is that we don't get as boiling weather-wise as those poor shmoes in Stockton, Modesto, Flagstaf, Miami, Milan, Rome, or Syracuse. Where it's very hot. Having looked at the weather predicted for tomorrow, I know that I shall not go naked. You're glad, I'm glad.

Nor will I ponce around in the buff after my apartment mate has left for work. In fact, it has been ages since anyone saw me nude, and I can't remember the last time I saw myself that way in the hallway mirror. Maybe at some point I should pop out the bathroom, flash myself, go "oh good lord nobody wants to see that", and hurry back into the bathroom.

Normally, the only way I see myself with bare flesh showing is in the bathroom mirror over the sink from the collarbone up, reason being that if one cannot see the area to be shaved, one ends up with a neckbeard. Logically then, America's building contractors do their bit to prevent male scruffiness. Women, being often considerable shorter than men, will worry excessively about their foreheads.

At least, I think that's the case. My apartment mate is three-ish inches shorter and has an exceptionally nice forehead. Naturally I am often reminded of a poem by Wang Wei (王維 'wong wai'; 699 - 759).
王維 :洛陽女兒行

It contrasts those fancy stylish Luoyang ladies with the simple beauty of a poor southern girl washing cloth by a stream in the last line. "Who pities the girl from Viet (Southern China) with a brow (顏 'ngaan') like jade, poor and lowly at the river washing silks". Note that 顏 ('ngaan') is glossed as originally referring to what a teen girls' magazine would describe as the T zone, which is the area between the center of each eyebrow starting at the bridge of the nose and continuing to the middle of the forehead. Nowadays it simply means countenance.

[- 'seui lin yuet neui ngaan yiu yuk, pan jin gong tau ji wun saa' -]

I've always been quite fond of Wang wei's verses. There's something about the way he phrases things that just strikes me. No, I've never been to Luoyang, and didn't live during the Tang dynasty. I discovered Chinese poetry when I was living in North Beach mere fragrance distance away from the Caffè Trieste.

Which the scribbled illustration above probably reminds you of.

My apartment mate, just in case you didn't know, is Cantonese American. Canton province is 粵 ('yuet'), which is a homophone of 越 ('yuet'; Viet), the ancient term for everything south of the great river all to the way down to tattooed screaming savage territory.

Read The Vermillion Bird, by Edward Schafer for more on that.

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