Monday, August 30, 2010


I shortened the leash and said “heel” before crossing the intersection. Coco tightened the leash right on cue as if I just gave her the command to run.

I’ve been walking and training her to heel for about a year and half now. I don’t know what her problem is. She knows to “wait” when I say so, just not “heel.” I can’t say she’s not smart, since she never misunderstands “breakfast” or “dinner.” Or the Chinese version of “come brush your teeth.”

I’m convinced a bilingual dog can’t be a dumb dog.

Yet she acted in complete surprise every time I yanked her back after the command “heel” and her subsequent running. I would tell her she was a little stinker for trying to flee from me. Maybe that’s where I did wrong. Maybe "little stinker" sounds like "good job" in Yorkie lingo.

I saw the couple on the other side before crossing the street. At first glance they looked like strangers who happened to be walking on the same side of the street. He walked a good forty feet ahead of her and seemed not at all concerned that she was about to cross the street by herself. He didn’t stop or look back, just kept on walking.

Coco and I kept our distance behind them. She had dark hair fashioned into a simple bun. It was the only part of her that didn’t say “old.” She was short and walked with a little lopsided stride in her chubby physique. He, on the other hand, was tall and agile. The distance between them made me somehow want to yell at him.

They were from the same mysterious country from the far away land of which I knew very little. Must be arranged marriage--I mused to myself. Suddenly he made a blunt one-eighty and I yelled silently--yay, he did care!

He passed her without a word or even a glance, and turned back a few feet afterward. In the meanwhile she didn’t miss a beat--just kept on walking behind him.

I was getting annoyed, despite the fact that I knew I shouldn’t. I was from the same kind of society where men walked around as if they were sent down here in golden sedan carried by God himself. I had enough of that that I didn’t want to see it here. I sometimes would get stuck in the doorway with another man from my hometown, who clearly was not familiar with the concept of “ladies first,” and I would go out of my way to ignore him and resist the urge to apologize.

They had to learn and I was accelerating their assimilation process by giving them their first lesson.

It was also annoying that “love” did not exist to us. If we were awkward adults with no clue how to show affection, it’s because we were raised where love was a hushed word, a taboo. It’s a shameful emotion that should be ignored at all costs.

Parents showed their love by scolding and putting their children down in front of others. Criticism equates adoration in their minds. They get away with it because parents command complete filial piety, one of the first words I looked up in the dictionary soon after I came here, upon their children; and because there’s no such thing as “therapy.” We had nobody to blame for our problems.

Love is to be assumed, and not expressed, between husband and wife, or lovers. My friend once told me she loved her husband, and her mother said she talked like an idiot. Did she have no shame, she wondered about her daughter.

Having a full stomach, on the other hand, is of utmost concern of ours. We greet each other not with “how are you” but “have you eaten yet,” or the latter follows the prior immediately after. Regardless your answer, we will proceed to force-feed you until your mid section is about to explode. It took me years to forgo the habit of taking food with me when going on car rides with my friend. She shared the peculiar behavior with her other friends, and they had a good laugh. I didn’t understand why it was funny just as they didn’t understand my need to feed her.

Had she known where I was coming from, she would’ve asked “Where are the chicken wings?” instead.

The couple made a turn and parted way with us. He stopped and looked back until she almost caught up before making the turn. They didn’t share a word throughout the walk, and yet there was an air they silently exuded that was so comforting. They stuck together through so many decades, and in all likelihood will be fulfilling “’til death do us part” part of the union. I watched their backs, lanky and nimble versus short and wobbly, trotting away from me for a few seconds. I wasn’t so annoyed anymore.

Coco looked at them and realized that wasn't the path we were taking. Not anytime soon anyway. We continued on our usual route home. It must've started drizzling, as my cheeks were getting misty.

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  1. These sweet sights put everything in perspective, don't they?

  2. Betty - they sure did. I guess love can be silent and routine if we look for it.

  3. Sarah, I think I would like to walk along with you one day so that you can tell me what you see. I know for a fact that I would not see what to you is so obvious. You do have an eye to go along with your imagination.

  4. Bruce - Make sure you call me when you're in NorCal. I'd love to take a walk with you. I'm sure I can dig a lot of interesting stories out of you. :)

  5. Another great piece, Sarah. I especially love the statement about how your culture is focused on full stomachs vs matters of the heart. I think, to some extent, that's true for many cultures.

  6. Thanks Robyn. I think you're right. Sometimes survival of the body is more important than nurturing the heart.

  7. I just realized that Mulligan knows the command, "Sit!"

    Rod takes him for walks every day, while I am sitting outside, trying to see the magnificent creations made by the clouds. I am a surviver!!

  8. Judie - you sure are! Walking dogs in that kind of heat is suicidal. It's much safer to watch the clouds.

  9. Hey Sarah. Great read. I liked the ending especially, nicely done. :)

  10. Lou - thanks. It's always good to see you here.

  11. There's a reason you're a Superior Scribbler, correctamundo? Bravo!

  12. Such different interesting to read and discover! I thought it was interesting to read the anecdote about the's hard for me to imagine. Loved your ending also :D

  13. Melissa - Thanks for the compliment!

    Sarah - I love to see how other people live. It's always interesting, sometimes scary..

  14. I absolutely love this!!! We were raised much the same. Are you hungry? I promise the first thing I will do if you come visit is overfeed you. :-)

  15. Marla - it's a deal! What's your favorite dish? I want to be prepared just in case you come my way.



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