Sorry for the silence. Four transcontinental trips in two months = not enough time in Shanghai to write anything!
But today, here I am. It’s steamy, nothing seems real outside except the mosquitoes, and so I decided to take the car and meet my son Alex for lunch and a glass of cool bubble tea. Afterward, he gratefully accepted a ride back to work.
“I’m going to stop for a minute,” Driver Ou Yang suddenly announces, pulling over. “They’re selling something that I’ve been looking for and haven’t been able to find.” He’s out the door in a flash.
“Does he often stop the car to shop?” Alex asks pointedly.
“Never happened before.” I say. “I wonder what he’s getting.” We squint, but can’t tell for a minute. Then he races back across the street, clutching three small baskets.
Inside the car, he dangles them proudly. “I’ve been looking and looking for these,” Ou Yang says.
In fact, he is looking proud. “They are from Shandong,” he tells us. “They only cost 5 yuan each. Soon they will sound nice. This one is little — it will last until December, but the other two will be singing sooner.”
Then I hear the sound. Click, click. I remember.
“Last year,” I tell Alex, “one time Dad spent all day trying to identify what was making a new noise was in the car. He thought maybe there was a problem with a ball bearing. And then Ou Yang finally showed him.”
They look exactly like the ones we trap in the downstairs bathroom in our house in the States and carry outside. Pests, I think, and so I tell Ou Yang. “And by the way,” I add, “that stuff I gave you this morning to spray on yourself to keep away mosquitoes — don’t spray it around the new friends.”
“I won’t,” he says, and shakes his head. As I get out, I hear him muttering in disbelief, “Puts them outside….!”