I think maybe I have been in China too long

lamian joint

Evening, waning summer. Humid dusk. Tired from hauling concrete up the stairs for Knox’s new tub. Aching and hungry.

I walk along a winding, stagnant canal that runs through a number of small residential communities and beneath one enormous elevated highway. On either side of the canal there are brick walkways, and I amble west on the northern path, slowly chasing dinner.

Lamian restaurant. Pulled noodles, flour shrapnel, street smoke, searing lamb, a pull-down shade in the back corner to create a space for prayer five times a day. Chatter.

Standing in the doorway I see a toddler in split pants. More specifically: I see a toddler, wearing split pants, squatting in the center of the room, between the six tables that line the walls. To be completely clear: I see a toddler, wearing split pants, taking a shit on the floor in the middle of a restaurant.

I lock eyes with the proprietor in the back of the room. We take in the defecating youngster. I make note of this. I do what needs doing. I order a plate of 蒜薹牛肉干拌面 — to go — and wait outside.

I think maybe I have been in China too long.

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