Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Most Latest Vegetable?

*Disclaimer: I can be very abrasive, so please bear with me as the Lord softens me. I’m growing up (painfully slowly for those who have to put up with me, but the alternative is worse) and learning what’s important and what is sacred and what is fair game. Furthermore, if I do keep up this blog and you find yourself continually offended, please consider that this blog may not be for you. One can know a lot of people and don’t have to be chummy with all of them. My purpose in posting is to entertain and dialogue with a few close friends who are already used to me.

So what’s with the Engrish title? “Most Latest Vegetable” is a tribute to Taiwanese buses, Taiwanese orthodontics, and my soft-touch Daddy. I had braces from 5th grade until … well, it was a long time and I had to have them twice. My international Christian School (Bethany Christian School) was downtown, and so was my orthodontist. Mom would meet me after school and we’d ride the bus across downtown together. After I had my teeth prodded and clucked over, we’d ride to Tien Mu, the halfway point between downtown and Christ College, where we lived and my parents taught. Dad would be waiting at the stop in front of Fang’s Restaurant. Fang’s had giant plate-glass windows in front that looked into the kitchen on the left side. I’d press my nose against the glass and watch the cooks rolling dough, stuffing dumplings, stir-frying veggies. Then we’d go inside and I’d gum down plates of jiao tze and bao tze (steamed pork dumplings and veggie buns) and go home with spinach stuck in my freshly-adjusted wires. Fang’s had a menu that was trying to be bilingual. It mostly succeeded, but we always had a gentle chuckle over the “Most Latest Vegetable” entry. It meant “Vegetable of the Day” or “Seasonal Vegetable,” but the way it was phrased, in such earnest Engrish, made it charming.

It probably doesn’t follow, but “Most Latest Vegetable” has seemed to take on the larger context of the English “What you see is what you get.” Maybe it’s just because I’ve used it as a Gchat status for so long. “Most Latest” = up to date and random. Hot off the presses and probably strange. As for “Vegetable,” nobody needs to be told that I spend a lot of time wandering around in my own mind. Me: now with your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

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