Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ming-chee, meet Ming-Wen

When we first moved to Ithaca, we had an apartment in a complex that housed mostly old people and asian cornell grad students. I don't just mean "of asian descent," I mean they were fresh-new to our country and about 90% spoke just a tiny bit of halting english.

Our first next-door neighbors introduced themselves to us like this: "(heavily accented) I am Yan. This is my wife, Su. And this is our son (complete, nasal, flat American accent) Edward." Edward was a hoot. He was maybe four or five. One day he spent an entire afternoon standing outside his back door singing songs from Disney's the Jungle Book. I know this, not because the songs were recognizable, but because he finished each performance with a loud, "Frooooooooom the Jungle Book!" Edward also scooped up all the gravel on the patio, tore a hole in the screen in their door, and poured all the gravel into their living room. Su had a very hard time keeping up with Edward.

There was an another man in our complex that I would see walking his toddler son around. I had Minchy out for a walk one day and the man gestured us over and sort of signed for permission for his son to pet my dog. We met up this way a couple of times before the man asked me what the dog's name was. I said, slowly and carefully, "Minchy." The man's face just lit up.

"His name Ming-Chee?" I nodded. He pointed to his kid. "HIS name Ming-Wen!" I put on a happy face and nodded along, hoping Ming-Chee didn't mean anything bad or dirty.
Everytime we were out for walkies and we saw them, the guy would yell, "Ming-Wen! There go Ming-Chee!"

He was fascinated the first time he saw me out with both Minchy and Frances. They do look an awful lot alike, and I think it took him a moment to realize he wasn't seeing double. He said hello to Ming-Chee and tried to get Ming-Wen even the tiniest bit interested in the dogs. (The kid did not seem to like animals at all, in spite of his father's efforts.) He asked what the new dog's name was. I said, carefully and slowly, "Frances."

"Oh. Pwin-cess."

I just nodded. Close enough. Every time we saw him after that he would call out to his pals Ming-Chee and Pwincess.

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