I apparently need to be a bit more cautious of what I say in this blog.
No, no, fear not the cane or any such corporeal punishment. My indiscretions have come home to roost in the well-mannered and well-lubricated form of a late-night hazing over a lazy choice of words. As I sat down to join my teammates in our bi-weekly quiz1trivia night, my British neighbors, Paul and Deb, whom we met on our first quiz night, smiled a wicked grin and asked, “Sooooo, are we the ‘older couple’?”
A cold hard lump formed. Oh, I tried to play it cool, made a confused face and then tried my best poker face when the accusations were leveled, but I was caught red handed, and I knew it. I’d like to think I took my lumps with good grace, I only playfully offered to drop the “er” once.
The team animosity did some good, apparently. Spurred on by a game of one-upmanship against the five-time reigning champions, we managed a healthy second place, winning a tie breaker when we had to sum up the amount of strokes the PGA Championship was won by, the number of children some celebrity had, and the number of men on a rugby side. We missed by a country mile, but had at least guessed higher than our third-place confederates, Team Heisenberg2Say my name!. The Leftovers, made it six times, blowing away the field. Next week.
Such are the forms the new normal takes. Bi-weekly quiz nights, where my knowledge of useless Americana is our teams’ secret weapon, a geeky maphead with a knack for song lyrics3“With the lights out, its less dangerous; here we are now, entertain us?” Seriously? Nobody from the Class of ’94 is missing that one, baybee.. The quizmaster might possibly hate me after being hounded on the geographic particulars of the American Supercontinent4Jaguars are found in both North & South, and Nicaragua, while found between Honduras & Costa Rica, is not in South America. but he’s a great sport and “bloody jaguars” now has become part of the official quiz vocabulary.
I like to think that I’m a patron of the word.
Quiz night has brought on new friendships, which is something of vital importance, I’ve found, to surviving the transplant operation. Like food or water, almost, such is the need to connect with others when living abroad. This move feels like a vacation at first, and then the long months roll out before you and you realize, this is your life5“…and it’s ending one moment at a time,” thank you Tyler..
The expat life has its obvious rewards but it has it’s unique particulars as well. Though this isn’t vacation, it is a temporary life for many, made manifest last night as we held a going-away party for one of Bev’s coworkers, Oregon-bound after a 10 year stretch of living in Asia. We barely got to know Shawn and Ken, but such is the life here, I think. People are in flux, chasing family, career, opportunity or maybe just the next big adventure.
It was a shame to see them go, as Bev & I both enjoyed their company, but the send off was enjoyable, as we spent a Sunday night eating BBQ chicken, drinking wine and vodka and jumping into the pool at Claire’s house. And being Oregonians, I have the feeling that our paths might likely cross again, somewhere out there in the world. Or, as I joked last night, in Spaceballs 2, the Search For More Money.
Jesus Christ, I’m a dork.
Our adventures continue with a trip to Vietnam this week. Bev is going to Ho Chi Minh City6Saigon for work, where I’ll meet her for the weekend to explore Saigon for the first time. I’m excited. Vietnam, of course, has been something of an anathema to American children growing up after the war. It was a place where my father went and doesn’t talk about. The war was the subject of many a movie, decrying our involvement in it, demonizing it, making it clear to generation X and beyond that the Vietnam War was “bad” and “not popular”, and etc, etc.
Note how nothing was said about the country itself? I’ve heard more about Vietnam growing up than any other Asian country save Japan, and yet, I couldn’t tell you really anything useful about the country. We went to war, we lost said war. The war was a cultural milestone in American history, activating people to protest, spawning counter-culture that eventually became a part of Americana; my fathers’ generation so intimately involved that many never speak of it. There’s another American in the writers’ group working on a book about his father and the war, and my interest level has been off the charts to read this story. My own father served, and when my parents come to visit us, Vietnam and Saigon are already high on the list for him to visit. I would be lying, bold face, if I told you that I am anything less than burning with curiosity over what I’ll learn on that trip.
This trip though is a weekend, it’ll be quick, and in some ways, better. I know little about Vietnam the people, the land, the cities. I’ve heard nothing but great things about travel there.