Chinese Neighbors by Thomas Bowling
“I'm up. I'm up.”
“What was that about, Bruce Lee?”
“That's something I learned in the class I'm taking at the community college.”
“I didn't know you were taking a course.”
“I told you about it. It's called ‘Getting to Know Our Chinese Neighbors‘.”
“Does this mean you're finally going to say hello to the Wangs? They're nice people.”
“They might be spies.”
“Do you think they're going to steal your plans for an anti-gravity machine?”
Tom pulled his glasses down and looked at Carol. “What do you know about my anti-gravity device? You haven't been talking to anybody about it, have you?”
“Oh, brother. Well as long as I have the frying pan out, I might as well make some chicken. I think I'll invite the Wangs for supper. It'll give you a chance to get to know them.”
“I'll invite them," Tom said. “What are their names?”
“Tanon and Lin.”
“I can remember that. This'll give me a chance to practice my Cantonese. CantoDict lo chow chub cor ping pong chow mien.”
“What does that mean?”
“Mark Stewart says CantoDict means big head. He's not sure about the rest. He says it's a dialect he's not familiar with.”
Tom walked out the front door. Instead of walking across the yard like he did every week when he mowed the yard, he walked down the driveway to the road and up the neighbor's driveway to their front door. It seemed more formal to him. In a few minutes, he returned.
Carol noticed the red palm print on his face. “What happened?”
“I said something in Chinese.”
“What on earth did you say?”
“I don't know. I was showing off. I just put some Chinese words together. Lin slapped me. I think I insulted her.”
“Oh, no. You're going to have to apologize. This time speak English.”
“I'm going to call Mark and ask him what I said.”
After talking to Mark, Tom came back into the kitchen. “You might as well just make dinner for two.”
“What did Mark say?”
“Did you know Jyutping means erect penis?”
“I'm not the one studying Chinese. What else did you say?”
“Something about eating their children. I could hear Phyllis laughing in the background.”
“Oh, no. We're going to have to move.”
“The rest is worse. I'll let them cool down for awhile and apologize tomorrow.”
The next day, Tom walked to the neighbors. He took the same route up and down the driveways. He came right back.
“How did it go?” Carol asked.
“They didn't come to the door.”
“They must not be home.”
“I saw them peek through the drapes.”
Carol shook her head. “That's not good.”
“There is a bright spot. We don't have to move. There's a for sale sign in their yard.”
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