Courtney. October 11, 2010
Irony or Destiny?
As I mentioned before, on the day before Jacqui's departure from Ha Noi back to California, the four of us were in a state of agony over the decision: should she stay or should she go? And if you've read the entry about that day you'll know that we went ahead and got pissed, and then I got a tattoo on the back of my right heel that says, "Jax stays" in Vietnamese.
The irony that occurred shortly after Jacqui's sorrowful departure is that my 'tattoo,' which I had believed at this time to be permanent in nature, came off. I know the heel is a bad place for a tatt, and I did feel my $0.35 USD flops rubbing against it the day before it came off, but you have to admit, it was ironic nevertheless.
On 10/10/10 - the 1,000 Year Anniversary of Ha Noi - Danielle and I decided that I should go back to the same shop to get "Jax left" on the same spot where "Jax stays" used to be.
The reason we chose this night is that the 1,000 year anniversary is a once in a lifetime opportunity (unless you live for 1,000 years) and I needed to get the Ha Noi symbol tattooed on my wrist.It is the Temple of Literature, founded in 1070 as a Confucian Temple, and was Viet Nam's first functioning university.
While we were there, we figured we should get the tattoo that we had been set on since arriving in Nam and seeing first hand what our home country (and many other countries) has done to this place.The writing on our foot says, "never forgotten" in Vietnamese.It is for our Vietnamese friends but it is also for all the US soldiers who died here, thinking they were doing something good.
And since we have matching tattoos, we might as well have matching motorbike scars.
Here's where the irony becomes destiny.
I remember the artist and his apprentice being good looking Vietnamese men-boys, but I don't remember them the way I do now. These are some GOOD-looking men-boys. The artist (my boyfriend) has a very calming demeanor about him. The only way I can describe him is that in another world he would have been a doctor. When I was speaking to him about my tattoo, he listened with a slightly cocked head and a genuine smile (no scrunched eyebrows) and I could tell he was using any and all energy he had to understand what I was requesting. After I explained he would say, "okay, I understand" in a soft voice.
Danielle's boyfriend is 20 (10 years younger than his brother and my boyfriend) and reminds me of Ryan from the OC. He looks and stands like a little badass but not in a rude way. In a hot way. And then when you say something to him that makes him smile it's this obscenely attractive mixture between sexy-badass and cute 20-year-old sweetheart. I sound like a perve, I know.
Now Vietnamese culture is much more shy and conservative than Californian culture, which means it is LOADS more shy and conservative than Danielle and Courtney culture.
Walker and I had just had a discussion with our female Vietnamese friend the night before about whether Vietnamese men are 'just not that into us' westerners or just appear not to be because of the cultural barrier - e.g. US approaching them in an aggressive manner. Our friend told us we just need to play it 'shy' until they fall for our act and then let them see how obnoxious we really are.
Of course we can not do that - try as we may. When 'Brian' (my boyfriend, whose name I cannot pronounce and therefore forgot the moment he told me) asked if I liked the design of the tattoo, I told him "yes, but not as much as I like you." He smiled a little, either showing shyness or disinterest, but I persisted. By the time Danielle walked back into the room from designing our other tattoos upstairs, we had established that we liked each other (as in: we 'like liked' each other - remember 5th grade?) and that we were in a relationship.
His apprentice who cannot speak a word of English was then approached my Miss. Walker, via'Brian.' He didn't seem receptive at first either so Walker decided to get straight to the point - GOOGLE TRANSLATE.
She typed in, "why don't you like me?"
He typed, "I do, you don't believe me?"
She typed, "Well then, will you be my boyfriend?"
He typed," yes. I will."
After our tattoos were finished they asked if we would on a date with them. We said, "obviously, we're your girlfriends!" They took us to a genuine Vietnamese restaurant that ended up with a bill that cost 1/3 of what we had just paid them for our three tattoos, but they would not let us pay no matter what we said. It's funny because in the US we never pay when we're out with guys, whether they our boyfriends or just friends, but as a traveller, everyone pays for themselves no matter what. I love Vietnamese culture!
The dinner was very interesting. Bia Ha Noi (bia = beer), of course, but it was also a new kind of meal prep for Danielle and me. They served us about 20 different vegetables and some exotic meats (pig intestines and such) - all raw. There was a hot-plate burner in the middle of the table with a giant bowl of boiling water. Apparently it is Japanese, but Korea and Viet Nam has recently adopted it.Walker and I had no idea what to do but our boys put each item in, one at a time, at the proper time, so that it all cooked evenly. Then they used those crazy Vietnamese utensils that Walker and I thought were for repairing construction when the restaurant building gets damaged and put it in our bowls for us. Then they put it in our bowls for us.It was a beautiful.
In my distorted memory of the occasion we had a very romantic evening with great food, fine wine and endless conversation. In reality: the food was great, Bia Ha Noi is always great, but the conversation was limited in the sense that Danielle and her boyfriend had to do 100% of the communication through my boyfriend and me, which was achieved at about a 25% success rate. Very fun and most interesting date I've been on in my life.And it ended as it began - they asked if they might see us again and we told them that when we felt like it in the next week or two we would just show up at their tattoo shop and stalk them - American style.
I vote Destiny....