a few days ago, while paroosing the second-hand book shop, i happened across a compilation of short stories by Paul Auster. well, not actually, “by” paul auster (which is too bad, because i love that man) but rather by 183 americans who decided to write NPR with a small anecdote about their lives to be read on NPR’s This American Life (which just so happens to be my very favorite of all NPR programs). naturally, without any hesitation, i bought it.
needless to say, the last few days i have been savoring the random tid bits my fellow countrymen and women have chosen to share with the rest of us. at the end of every story is the author’s name and where they live. i have been dreaming up crazy stories about what they might be like after reading just a tiny fragment of their life. i feel oddly connected to these people whom i have never, and most likely, will never meet. but, i suppose that’s what the book is all about. i have read stories about love, war, dreams, and even about a chicken who knew how to let himself in a screen door by himself. while they’re not all poetic masterpieces, they are especially poignant and in my opinion, time very well spent reading.
so, i have been carrying this book everywhere. on the bus, on the skytrain, everywhere. yesterday kevin decided that a trip to Pantip Plaza (a 3 story building solely devoted to selling electronic goods of every kind) was in order. not surprisingly, i declined and let him do his nerdy gadget shopping independent of his naggy “kevin, are you ready yet?!” girlfriend. instead, i thought a trip to Lumpini Park (one of our favorite hangouts) sounded nothing short of perfect. i could people-watch, read by the water, and just lay around under the shade of one of it’s many trees. so, we went our separate ways, and i headed down to the park. i cannot begin to tell you how amazing my afternoon was. lounging under this giant tree, water rushing by, people jogging, temperature at a balmy 70ish degrees…and my book…it was perfect. i was laughing, crying, and overall just totally immersed in the richness of these stories.
a few stories in, i started to read about a girl who’s day was going totally, and completely wrong. she was trying to make it across country for a funeral, during which she got on the wrong expressway to the airport 3 times, left her credit card at the gas station, realized she had brought the wrong check book, used her last few cents to buy a lottery ticket (on accident) instead of to make a phone call (i dont totally understand how this happened, but it seems like both the lottery ticket machine and pay phone were right next to each other? strange.) and the list goes on. i must admit, that i was enjoying her misfortune, and was chuckling to myself throughout the entire story. it was quite well written. so, after recanting the entire story about her god-forsaken day, she writes, “it’s annoying when life seems to shit on you when you least expect it.”
end of story. i smile.
just then, with this ridiculous grin plastered on my face, a pigeon shit all over me. and i do mean ALL over. all over my thighs, calves, feet and my hand. it is everywhere. so, here i am, covered in shit, book in left hand, shit on right, laughing out loud at how ridiculous this situation is. then, out of no where, this tiny 5’1 asian girl comes up laughing too, and hands me a kleenex. “i’ve been living here 15 years,” she said, “and you never can plan for when you’ll get shit on…and not just by the birds…”
and this, is how i met vi.