Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hickory. Dickory. Dock. Greg Needs to Get Around the Block.

Posted by She Said.

Greg is such a wimp. I know, he looks all big and strong with his 6’3” height and his shaved (OK, stubbly head) and goatee. But don’t let him fool you. He’s a big scaredy cat. Let me give you an example. Oh, and don’t worry, I can feel the retribution coming my way for telling you this through a blog post about how I am having nightmares about losing one of the kids on the subway I HAVE YET TO TRY in Beijing.

So anyway, Greg has been eye-balling these twisty breads every day on his way to and from work. He comes home and tells me all about this little hut that slightly moves position in the alley on his way to work. How this little hut has the most amazingly good smelling bread for sale. How he would like to try one.

And did he try one? Yes! But only because I BOUGHT IT FOR HIM. Apparently in my life, and in particular in my relationship with Greg, I am the one willing to ask for directions, and most recently, the one to ask for twisty bread from the woman in the moving hut. (There is a story about my teen years and Jeremy Miller in there, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I held up one finger and then pointed to the bread. She held up two fingers. I gave her two yuan (roughly 30 cents), and she handed us a twisty bread. Or shall I say a twisty bit of heaven? Maybe a twisty bit of savory goodness? Whatever. We all devoured the scrumptiousness thanks to my willingness to use my mad charade skills and look like a fool. Susanne – 1, Language Barrier – 0

MovingHut (The hut used to be where Greg was standing to take this picture.)

Twice at the market, I have called Greg at work and asked to speak with Chang. I desperately wanted some of that satay-like sauce we had at the hotpot restaurant, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Once Chang was on the phone, I found an employee of the market, smiled a “please forgive me for being an idiot and not knowing this on my own” look and thrust the phone to her. She reluctantly took it from me, but after a very brief conversation with Chang, she directed me to the sauce. Susanne – 2, Language Barrier – 0.

The second time I used this phone technique was today when I was looking for the special vinegar we put into the satay-like sauce we had at the hotpot restaurant. (Yes, I am profoundly determined to recreate what we had!) However, as I stood in the vinegar aisle with its dozens of different kinds of Chinese-labeled vinegars, there was no market employee. Chang was ready on the other end of the phone, but there was no employee in sight. But wait! There was a customer! Yup, that’s right. In my quest for this culinary masterpiece, I put on my best “please help me” smile, thrust the phone at this gentleman (a complete stranger), and as he looked at me like I was crazy (zip it), he took the phone from me. My pink Motorola Razr, by the way. He nodded, repeated something to his wife and then they both started looking in the vinegars. AND THEY FOUND THE RIGHT VINEGAR! Susanne – 3, Language Barrier – 0.

Greg thinks this is hilarious because it is not anything he would ever dream of doing. But hey, I am a woman on a mission.

Today’s trip to the market was the same as our other trips there in several ways. Both kids had their cheeks gently stroked by strangers, and we had one woman bring her adorable little 16 month old baby boy over to say hi to the kids, who were completely zoned out in the cart with their iPods. I told them I would take them away forever if they didn’t stop playing for two seconds and be polite and say hello. Damn iPods, they are a blessing AND a curse.

Ah, but today’s trip home from the market had a pleasant (not) little twist on it. As I shifted groceries from the bags into my backpack to make the bags lighter for the walk home, Emily started to scream. We have mentioned Emily’s screams before, I’m certain. They are ear-shattering and I swear could wake coma patients. And the thing is, WE DON’T NEED ANYMORE ATTENTION AT THE MARKET, thank you very much. However, there is she is, tears popping out of her eyes and hitting her shirt and the floor, uttering a scream that each second increased in volume and pitch.


Because she just remembered she had A PAPER CUT. Not ANY paper cut. A paper cut that happened HOURS AGO. In the States when something like that happens, you can tell instantly the people who have kids and give you the “oh, honey, I have BEEN there” look, and those that don’t have any kids and give you the “oh. my. god. could you be any more annoying” look. Here, I don’t know what people were thinking, but I do know this – THEY WERE WATCHING. I thought we got a lot of stares before; it paled in comparison to my walk home today. I SO wanted to crack open that 50 cent drink labeled “Plum Juice” that I bought and try it, because I was suspicious it was actually plum WINE. I just wasn’t sure if I could plead “stupid” getting caught breaking some (unknown to me) open container law.

I will save our pizza ordering experience for another post, but I’ll leave you with this hint. Susanne – 3, Language Barrier – 1.


  1. Omg!! I love all of ur china postings!! I wake up every morning at 5 or 6 and laugh insomnia who cares when I start my day reading about your familys adventures thanks for shareing your life memorys!!! Have a great trip can't wait to read MORE......

  2. I am loving this too... Post more food pictures! I want to see the twisty bread! I love finding out what doughy goodness lurks in the world.

  3. I know, every time I see a new posting on twitter or whatever, I get all excited to read the latest! It's like a new episode of your favorite TV show!

  4. Oh, God. Non-English speaking public humiliation via child tantrum sounds like it would rank very high on my list of things I don't want to experience. I had an unpleasant medical procedure today that I won't elaborate on, but I tried to think of how it could have been worse. The only thing I could think of was if it had been administered by a blood relative. Screaming child in a Chinese market would rank right up there.