This morning Wren and I went to Uwajimaya to replenish our stocks of inari wraps, onion tofu and bubble soda for Frost. It was a trip pitted with weirdness, starting with...
The Part where Wren Announces Gobo is a Good Gun
As we entered the store we saw a large display of the specials including Strawberry and Classic Ramune soda (not the favorites), burdock root and beech mushrooms ($1.50 a package!!!). Wren begged me to buy some burdock root (gobo) but I was reluctant because I have no idea how to eat it. That didn't bother Wren who just wanted a few roots to wave around. We walked around the store arguing about how he had to hold them UP and AWAY from my eyes while he felt that they were GUNS and had to be waved around.
I asked an Asian women how she cooked burdock and she waved her hands helplessly at her mouth to indicate she couldn't really speak English. Then she said "like vegetable."
I am going to try and eat it like a vegetable even though Wren spent the drive home gouging a hole in it with his fingers. When I asked him why he was doing this he said he was "looking for bones."
Then there was...
The Part in which we Discover Beard Papa's Cream Puffs and the Milk Tea
I have to give a rave to this new cream puff kiosk at Uwajimaya. If your child loves the cream puffs on the conveyor belt at Blue C Sushi this is the place for you to go for tea. Sure you have to sit at the mall-like plastic tables in the food court, sure you make have strange tea but these cream-puffs are delicious. I can vouch for both the vanilla and the chocolate one and the lady in line said the green tea one was great.
I also enjoyed my tea although there was some difficulty ordering it. The menu lists Earl Grey tea and Earl Grey MILK tea. I like (cold) milk in my tea so I ordered MILK tea. The sales-person tried to explain to me that MILK tea was made with 50% milk and 50% water. That sounded ok so I said "yes". Well, it turns out that its more like a tea latte. They make a strong tea infusion and then mix it up with milk. Its very hot and very milky. I think it would be safer to order regular Earl Grey and then ask for milk if that is how you like it!
So, we carried our MILK TEA and cream puffs over to a table and this leads into ....
The Part In Which I Insult an old lady
with a Mental Health Issue
We sat down opposite a woman much older than me wearing a pink sweater embroidered with flowers. She had black hair with gray threaded through it and was eating some kind of bun in a plastic wrapper with HAWAIIAN printed on it in red lettering. When Wren sat down he stared at her in silence.
Wren has good instincts while I tend to be overly chatty.
The woman immediately admired Wren and smiled and chatted to him. She was doing very well in her admiration so I asked her if she had a grandchild. She said she had no children or grandchildren and was from Hawaii and her sister worked here. She added that her hair was gray because she had fallen over three times and the paramedics had come. They had taken her to hospital and put her in a CAT scan and an X-ray and then her hair had gone gray. I said I sympathized.
Around this time a women with a child sat down next to us. Her child looked the same size as Wren so I asked how old she was. She said she would be 3 in December. We started comparing dates and it turns out that Sofia was born on December 15th at Swedish while Wren was still in the NICU. They were there in the same huge storm! She was also still nursing (I had just weaned Wren).
In the middle of this conversation the Hawaiian woman interrupted to tell me that she was not old. That her hair was greay because she fell over. I said that I didn't think she looked old. She said that I was rude to call her Grandmother. I apologized but mentioned I asked because she seemed so comfortable with Wren.
There was a pause - one of those moments in the conversation in which you realize you are sliding from mutual understanding to a form of speech in which I you are simply an object which has intruded on someones internal dialogue. That nothing you say matters. That none of your words can gain purchase on this hill of ice.
The lady says that she is not old. I nod. That she is NOT my Grandmother.
"How old are you anyway? You look old! I could not be your grandmother!"
"I am 42"
"See, you are old. This woman is young. She is... what? Are you 25?"
The other woman adds that she is actually 35.
"Well, you look young. This one [me] looks old. She should not say I am her grandmother!! My niece is not 42!!! She is 25. How can I be her Grandmother!!! My niece is 25!"
I agree she is far too young to be my grandmother but no words make any difference now. I have somehow insulted her by implying a great age when in fact her age is less than 70. "How old is YOUR mother anyway?" So, she is in her 60s? Well, still, she is not much older than that! Definitely people think she is but she IS NOT. I was very RUDE. I should not be such a RUDE PERSON. I sigh and buy Wren an apple juice I do not want to buy and he does not really want either. The lady waits for me to return.
I wish the damn milk tea wasn't so hot that I can't leave.
Finally, the old lady's dialogue circles into a form of brevity as she recycles the 'facts' again and again until reaching the conclusion that I am bad, rude and a bit stupid. She leaves.
THe Other Mother woman says she often sees this person in the area, that she often carries a doll on the back of her pack.
I know this is sad and puts the story in perspective. Still, despite compassion I felt unsteady and my milk tea tasted better in peace.