An Afternoon in Pacific Coffee
“Long time no see,” that is the way we say “Hi” in Hong Kong. I mean long time literally, though. For young people like us, a few years can mean one or two decades or even half a century. Things have changed a lot still my memory can’t catch up with that. I still feel that smart fellow in slick suits sitting inside café Pacific is going to stand up at any minute and run with me in a big museum just to look for a refundable coin locker. Silly thought, isn’t it? I am glad that we share mutual feeling however there is a subtle difference between us. Tuition has turned my friend into a big-headed Ivy League bastard. Again, I mean big-headed literally. Do you find your head too big for your build? I am just kidding and thank you for your compliment. I appreciate “dry sense of humor” in particular although it sounds a bit old-fashioned. I am really glad to see you, that is true. It is not easy to start a real conversation in high school. It is even harder in university and I give up on that after graduation. Sometimes I do not see the value of a diploma. Anyway I spent a few years learning something so-called specialized, something I do not understand at all. There is nothing in the curriculum, no derivative, algebra or anything intelligent except lots of clothes. Suits or dresses are fine with me but I am not that hot about fashion. I get fed up with stupid showy stuff on T-stage in these years. After spending time and effort on fashion, I finally realize I prefer something practical over something fancy. Do you know that many clever people in the textile industry are working very hard to develop revolutionary T-shirt material? Hopefully we can try their innovations after a few more years.
Maybe I should have picked textile track in the first place but then I may not be able to graduate because my science and mathematics learning have been a failure since high school. Sometimes I envy geeks like you for their mathematics talent while sometimes I pity you guys because you know nothing except what you study. All geeks I know look horribly casual, almost lousy and dowdy. Things sure have changed a lot in these years. Now you look really smart and classy in business attire, just like any decent money-craving man in Central. I guess time does make a geek grow up but it just turns a girl older.
Do you really find my coat suits me well? You are so sweet to compliment on my clothe. Say it again for me, will you? I have to admit that I made a tasteful choice of color. Just looking at the dark red makes me feel warm, not to mention wearing it. After all, it is Burberry, a piece of quality garment with class. It is very warm in it, very warm. So warm that as if I could feel the temperature of my mum. Although she passed away a few years ago, the Burberry bought by her is still perfect in shape. Funny, isn’t it? She got it at Lane Crawford. Designer brands are truly lasting. Sadly there is no way you can find any decent Burberry in Hong Kong because Labels are everywhere. Even Lane Crawford is overwhelmed by all sorts of Burberry Labels, Blue Label, Pink Label, Black Label and even more. I guess Green and Purple Labels are going to be launched in near future. They are just cheap stuff. The Label does not give you anything decent except a knight logo. Maybe I should not comment that harsh on Burberry Labels because they may be the only affordable Burberry products to girls like me.
Sometimes to be a spendthrift can do some good, you can indulge yourself with shopping and leave one or two the pricey items behind to spoil somebody else. There is a price behind everything, including looking good. Generally spendthrifts do not mind paying the price so they look far better than people with strong financial concept. However, people working in investment banks are exceptions to the phenomenon as appealing appearance can be helpful in coaxing millionaires to pay. They can give everything a price and view it as an investment or expense. Maybe in your eyes I am just a pile of disposable consumer goods with no possibility of potential growth. Most women do not give priority to investment, is it because they are too superficial to read the hidden price tag behind everything? Sometimes I doubt if they have enough brain to read actual price tags in Lane Crawford.
Like my mum, I am a spendthrift by heart; unlike her, I do not have much dough. She turned her salary into fashion items when she was single; later she built a full wardrobe with some help from my dad’s wallet. I doubt if you find that adorable, my dad enjoyed that a lot though. “My fair lady”, he used to call her in this way if he thought she looked great that day. Although naïve or simple-minded people can be quite lovely, I could not help wishing she could become smarter. Everyone buys insurance, indeed only stupid one will count on it. She was so determined that her medical insurance was going to make us rich so she gave something to anyone she met in the hospital, including orderlies. Actually I gained nothing from her death because of her huge medical expense however she did give away lots of stuff, mostly cash, jewelry and designer clothes. This coat is the only decent clothe left. Somehow it saddens me because a woman could get so much from a man and give away what she owned so easily, while another girl might not be able to touch any of this in her whole life. Anyway, I am not that eager to snatch cash from another man, but I cannot help dream of getting married and being spoiled. I have already told you I am a spendthrift by heart.
Rarely can you take a glimpse of the real side of women, eye-opening isn’t it. In most cases, men’s understanding on femininity is limited to dressing up and stupid smiles. It is natural because attractive women mostly are just good-looking fools, preferably with classy hobbies like playing piano or drawing as it makes them sound educated. Frankly, who would doll up herself if she could not get tangible reward from all the hard work?
I can proud to pronounce that my illustration means much more than a classy hobby, it is my assignment. It is really difficult to find any sincere belief and common sense out of these skinny T-way Frankenstein in nine head proportion. To me they are something like nine-headed hydra, still I spent quite an amount of time drawing them. I got an A for every fashion illustration assignment. Probably it is not an issue of diligence, simply because I am good at drawing. You know how well I doodle since I was a kid. I like to doodle on homework, preferably on my classmates’ homework. Just kidding, I do not draw skinny models anymore, I just doodle Pokemons. Can you still recite every Pokemon in Pokemon Yellow? Okay, I know you have a memory of elephant. Actually I cannot fully understand why you remember all these trivial things, though they meant a lot to us in the past. At that time were we trying to create our own copy of Pokedex? I am not sure about but I remember clearly that I packed every draft neatly and nicely. All drawings are packed in paper box. I just forget which box they are in. I am afraid only kids have that much leisure time for treasure hunt. Your internship has been keeping you busy in Hong Kong, right? Paper boxes do not flee like Wild Pokemons. Feel free to call on me and check them out whenever you feel bored or just get nostalgic for our crazy days.
I feel that I am going to drop dead at any minute, like that Hemingway stuff. Is it something like Death in the Afternoon? Please correct me if I am wrong. Air-conditioned café itself is stuffy enough, not to mention the coat I am wearing and the bright sunlight shining through the window. Even for a local like me, occasionally I find January in Hong Kong quite warm, sometimes too warm. It must be hard for you live with this boiling winter. Sorry I should not have laughed about this, yet I cannot help it. You spend more than ten years to adjust to cold weather in the states so now you have to adjust to warm weather in your hometown. I find this process of adaptation very funny. To be comfortable in a place is not as natural as it sounds. The truth is I do not feel comfortable in this café, coffee and pastry are fine, however I do not fancy them.
In the name of Central, everything is overpriced in Central and Western District. We could have much more in Mong Kok with the money we spend in this café. A good afternoon is a few fish balls and a slow stroll. It does not cost much to have a good time in Hong Kong. If we did not dress that well today, probably we would end up getting lost in Mong Kok, like the way people get lost in blue or in translation. Let us forget about it because I do not want to pay for the dry cleaning of my coat or your suit. Maybe I should not have worn this if I want to avoid dry cleaning that much. I have been feeling out of place in here, even in my coat. Everyone in here speaks English, naturally I follow them. You speak in accent-free perfect English naturally making me feel stupid to even say “Hi” in front of you. All of a sudden I miss Cantonese and error-filled local Chinese-English. It is quite weird because I made fun of people making lots of grammatical mistakes quite often, but now I miss the mistakes themselves very much. Thank you for your recognition on my verbal English though it is not very encouraging coming out from your mouth, after all you speak almost native English now. I miss the time we dozed off in English classes together.
You look so serious now, sorry to upset you, maybe I should have just said” Please correct my grammatical mistakes if I am wrong. It is nice to talk to you in English.” I guess it is the best to stop this aimless rambling and start talking about something serious, like marriage or career goal, still I cannot think of anything to talk to. I do not want deep talk or clever conversation, I just want somebody to talk to, somebody who likes the way I draw and the way I am. Probably you are right, you are always right, maybe I have already got what I want, at least in this moment. Do you want to draw or doodle anything? Give me any paper and pen because all of a sudden I want to doodle badly. Which one do you prefer, Charmander or Pikachu? Or can we have them both? Before doodling I have to do something. I have got to take off this Burberry coat because it is too thick and it fits too tight for my height. I can hardly move my arms to draw anything in it. Wait a minute, I am taking it off. I feel much better now. Can you recognize that? Exactly, it is a refundable coin locker. Still remember the day in the museum?
2014/4/12 - 2014/5/31