Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chinese Food

Last night we went to a really nice, authentic (as if I would know) Chinese restaurant. We brought Sherman's dad, Mr. Lee, who was born in Hong Kong. He ordered all the food for us, and our table had one of those cool spinny wheel thingies in the middle so you just put the food there and everyone takes what they want. We had roast duck, this humongous fish (which was still very much intact...eyeballs and everything), calimari, sweet and sour ribs, soup, and rice. was delicious.

I sat next to Gerda, a delightful woman originally from Suriname. She's a nurse here on the island. Kind of quiet, but when you get her to talk or laugh you find out she's a real gem. Anyway, we sat together and made up the more quiet side of the table. After our several-course meal and a couple of hours of good conversation and freezing air-co blowing like crazy, I was about tuckered out. As a final course, the server brought out a plate of orange wedges. You know, like the kind you get at halftime when you're playing soccer.

Just as the oranges came out, the conversation took a new turn: politics. The men at the table, Brother Buckley, Mr. Lee, and senior missionary Elder Pietz really took off. They talked about wars and rumors of wars, the economy, health care, you name it. Sister Pietz, Gerda, and myself looked at each other and settled in for what we knew could be a long time...minutes, hours, days? We just knew it would be long.

So we started eating the oranges. The great thing was, the men didn't even seem to notice (or care) that the oranges were there. We women each took an orange wedge, and whirled the Lazy Susan around so each of the men could have taken an orange if they'd wanted to. Then when the still-nearly-full plate reached us again, we each took another. We thought we were pretty funny. Pretty soon we had whirled the Lazy Susan around enough times that there was only one orange slice left on the plate. Gerda said, laughing, "We'll save that one for them."

The conversation lagged on. Soon all I could think of was my need to sleep. Either at home or in public, somehow I just had to sleep. I put my head down on the table and actually managed to break the sound of politic talk just long enough for Brother Buckley to ask me if I was sick. "No," I replied, "just tired."

"Oh," he said, clearly quite relieved. And the conversation continued. I felt bad that putting my head on the table had drawn this kind of unwarranted worry, so I sat up again.

Finally, after listening to more of the never-ending debate--statistics and extreme right-wing opinions from Elder Pietz, devil's advocate-type questions from Brother Buckley, and Chinese proverb-sounding wisdom from Mr. Lee, Gerda looked and me with mischievous eyes and said, "Let's do it again. Heads on the table." So we did, laughing at our own cleverness. Brother Buckley was immediately awakened to our call for respite, and he stood up, the others unconsciously following his cue. And just like that, we were back out into the pleasantly warm island air, where we snapped these photos. Also included are photos of the feast.

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