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October 07, 2008


 As her parents ask the Mexican cashier stupid questions about what Chinese side items they'll get with their Japanese food order, the little girl happily pretends to read the lunch specials on the menu stand behind them. Her hair is all noise and no rhythm. Corn rows down the right front, a chubby kinked pigtail on top, and the left side free and frizzy like a black wad of cotton. It's a testament to either parental neglect or the child's extreme rambunctiousness. She points to the large bold print and happily mumbles something that can't be understood from across the room over the muzak being pumped through the speakers like it's as important to human survival as the air coming out of the ventilation system.

She turns and hugs the man's leg. His shirt makes him look like a vandalized peacock. He glances down and goes back to listening intently to the woman interpret and analyze the menu as explained by the young Mexican with the bald head behind the counter. Her shirt is sleeveless and showed off a caligraphied name tattooed across her shoulder that was only visible on her deep brown skin because of the overhead light shining down on it. She tilts her head in annoyance and another caligraphied name across the right side of her neck emerges in the light.

"So if we get that terriyaki chicken, we get fried rice? I don't want that, I want shrimp. Can I get fried rice with shrimp? How much is that? What about eggrolls? I don't want them, either."

Which question to answer? He picks one, then reconsiders, a glance up at the menu, at the register, back to the woman.

A huff of annoyance.

"Just give me the uh... terriyaki shrimp with some rice and lots of duck sauce." She turns her head to the man in the peacock shirt. "I don't know why they can't find someone who speak English."

He nods.

The little girl is back in front of the menu stand. This time ducking to look beneath it at the people already sitting down, eating their Japanese food. The ones who haven't noticed any of the ironies that have occurred in the last forty-five seconds and whom especially didn't notice the little girl's hair.