Sunday, May 27, 2018
吃蝴蝶 Eating Butterflies
我還沒刮鬍子,人也還昏昏欲睡,但依然鎖上我在台北 這位於五樓的家門,等著電梯來。我看看手錶,上課快遲到 了。然後,當自高樓層龜速降下的電梯總算在我面前打開, 我便瞧見這位媽媽和她年幼的兒子。這對母子是樓上的住 戶;兒子差不多四、五歲,抱著一大片用保鮮膜包好的西瓜。 那是片黃肉西瓜,而且顏色就跟他 T 恤上印的腳踏車一般 黃。做媽媽的則提著一只過大的 LV 包包,臉上仍舊化著過 濃的彩妝。小男孩對我笑了一笑,但婦人始終低著頭。
Unshaven, still drowsy, I lock the door to my 5th floor Taipei flat. I check my watch as I wait for the elevator, realizing I’ll likely be late for class. When the elevator door finally opens, after an annoyingly slow descent from a floor high above, I come face to face with some upper-story neighbors, a mother and her young son. The boy is four or five and carries a huge slice of watermelon covered in clear plastic wrap. I notice the yellow of the melon perfectly matches the yellow of the bicycle stenciled on his teeshirt. The mother, as usual, has way overdone her makeup, and is carrying an oversized Louis Vuitton bag. The boy smiles at me, but the woman keeps her gaze on the floor.
Then, as the doors close, she suddenly whacks her son sharply on the head and snaps in Mandarin: “Stop touching the melon! You’ll ruin it and no one will want to eat it! It’s like butterfly wings. If you touch them you ruin them!”
I watch the boy’s reaction in the mirror as the elevator begins to descend.
“Do people eat butterfly wings?” he asks her after a few seconds.
She makes a scoffing noise and says just a single word: “Stupid.” She clutches her bag closer to her.
As we near the ground floor, I catch the boy’s eye in the mirror. He’s clearly upset to be hit and insulted in front of the tall foreigner. As the elevator slows to a stop, I smile at him and say: “We eat them in my country.”
And just before the doors open, he looks up at his mother and defiantly says: “He eats them!”
As I step out of the elevator, I catch the mother scowling at me. But the boy is happy. I know in his mind he’s already picturing foreigners munching on yellow butterfly wings.
That I’ll be late for my class matters little now. I step out into the rain, hoist my flimsy umbrella, and head to the subway. I’m glad I caught them on the elevator. One must always try one’s best to get to children when they’re young.
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Have some deadpan with your coffee. From Idiocy, Ltd. Dryest humor in the west.