Hot Steaming Mung On Wheels
 Sunday  August 17, 1997




The Usual Suspects

Just shoot me. I don't care how, when or where you do it, all I ask is that you put a couple rounds in me before I waste any more time on the design of this page. I'm serious, I swear to NRA. Just watch your crossfire, because I don't want you to hit my pal Greg, who answered his phone at about 7 p.m. and didn't hang up until after midnight as he did his own fiddling and diddling and came up with the extremely cool logo above and buttons to the left and sorted out some annoying tables problems I was having. Me, I spend the better part of three days on this thing and just keep digging the hole deeper, but Greg rolls in and has it all wrapped up with a bow in about six hours. You'd never guess that as recently as six months ago he was calling me for help with web design. You'd also never guess that back in my college days I took first place in front page layout at a state-wide journalism competition. I'm not getting older, I'm getting stupider! Let's all take a moment of silence now in sympathy for my encroaching senility and in thanks for Greg's handiwork.

Before all this coding nonsense (which I promise not to bitch about any more), it was a day. Not great, not lousy, just a day. Started out with dim sum at ABC Seafood downtown with Beth, Zoe and Beth's sister Karan and father Jack. Yet another example of how Beth is broadening my horizons -- and my waistline. Before I met her I'd never even heard of dim sum and now it's the only thing that'll get my lardass out of bed early on a Sunday. We usually get there around 10:30 and spend the next hour chowing down with a vengeance, ordering items from nearly every cart that passes except the one I call the Mung Cart. I feel sorry for the Mung Lady, but not sorry enough to eat her mung. I think there's a hierarchy among the cart girls at ABC -- the young, strong, fast ones get the popular carts, like potstickers and baked bao (I only know how to eat it, not spell it) while the older, frailer, pokey ones have to push turnip cakes and phlegm-like rice noodles. And at the bottom of the caste system there's the Mung Lady. She's not really all that slow and frail, but there's something about her that screams "Victim!" and apparently puts her on the bottom rung of the ladder at Cartland. Her cart is loaded high with dozens of plates of some noxious, scary looking mess that one day hopes to become edible. In the three years I've been going to ABC I've never seen anyone order anything from her cart, not even the Asian regulars who will eat damn near anything. And so she pushes her lonely, loathesome cart around and around the perimeter of the dining room, gazing imploringly at the diners and longingly at the higher-status carts, around and around, circuit after fruitless circuit until her shift is over and she returns her untasted cart to the kitchen and goes home. It's tragic, really, but there's no way in hell I'm eating off that cart.

Later that day, at home, Zoe went into a rare crying jag. She's usually a very agreeable baby, always happy, always singing and laughing, but this afternoon she was the hellchild. Pick her up, she wants to be put down. Put her down, she wants you to pick her up. Offer her a bottle and she vehemently shakes her head "no." (She's all over "no," but whenever she means "yes" she doesn't nod, she goes "Eh, eh, eh!" It was endearing the first 12,000 times. Now it's just annoying.) The only thing that finally quieted her down was a dip in the pool, where she seemed bound and determined to drown herself. That made her happy. 17 months old and she has a deathwish already.

On the agenda for tomorrow is pleasure and pain. "Narp," an old co-worker of mine, is coming by in the afternoon to lounge by the pool and then we're having dinner at El Cholo (finest Mexican food in LA). She lives in Ohio now (for no good reason, believe me) and I haven't seen her in a year or so. I'm looking forward to it. Tempering that anticipation is the dentist appointment I have at 9 a.m. tomorrow, when the kindly old oral surgeon with the shaking hands is going to peel my gums back and do nasty things to my roots. I can't wait. Swing by tomorrow and I'll give you all the gory details.





Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins