Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dim Sum

With the invaluable assistance of Jade we ventured into Chinatown once more. Dim sum is fabulous. At this particular restaurant the vittles were pushed on carts weaving around the tables. Each vendor seemed keen to hand over his or her specific wares - we weren't sure if they got some kind of commission for emptying their carts and they certainly looked forlorn if we took nothing. Until Jade arrived with her friends Dave, being in the best position, waved the carts over and we pointed to various bamboo baskets. The selection grew and we struggled with our chopsticks to divide the spoils. Okay, so Lea didn't struggle what with being Indonesian and all, but I certainly did - chuckling at my inept handling of slippery dumplings.

When Jade finally arrived we were almost done and mostly confined ourselves to jasmine tea. My belly was comfortably full and I had taken the precaution of foregoing a belt in my jeans. The food was too tempting though and I couldn't resist extra helpings as a second wave of baskets arrived. I would groan, "My belly is so full!" and help myself to one more. I had already had a lotus-seed bun or two but then a big bowl of sweet tofu arrived. The 'ice-cream stomach' phenomenon began to work its magic. No matter how filling the main course is, there is always room for dessert. The tofu comes with a strong gingery syrup. "Mmmm..." I couldn't resist. The others gave up one by one leaving a great pile of tofu to be eaten. I took bowl after bowl, "Groo, I'm sooo full, but it's soooo good!" Lea laughed and laughed.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Scenic parcels

The bus pauses by the monument most mornings, it's a meeting of many roads where traffic bunches briefly as it flows into Boston proper. The grounds of the town hall opposite contains a number of broad maples. The light only falls on them for part of the day and so the leaves are not fully reddened yet. As a breeze lifts the branches, ripples of pale green wash through the burgeoning crimson. Hidden mint in secretive scarlet. When the light passes through these leaves they turn the colour of toffee apples, glossy bright sugar windows, red yellow green bronze.

A piece of tall rusting wire fence carries a climbing vine. It has crept over the top and some tendrils are venturing over onto a power line and then to the pavement below. One has dropped far below its companions to the height of my shoulder. It bounces gently, the tips have caught a broken tree branch before it could dash itself onto the ground. It seems a kindly thing to have done.

The leaves of the oak trees here are far larger than the British oak. They are longer and their lobes squarer. Many of these trees line the route I walk to the bus stop. I can reach up and touch the lower branches to greet them every day. One branch hangs just barely above my head. When I walk beneath it I briefly wear a leafy coronet, my daily inauguration - noone has told me what for.

Breakfast on the front veranda with marmite-on-toast and a cup of tea, the strong morning light fills the spaces in the forest across the road. The sun at my left makes bright hazy ladders to the ground in the misty air between the trees. The trunks are dark chocolate and the canopy a vibrant lime. In the clearing nearest to me I can just make out squirrels scurrying between golden pools and the quick flash of birds disappearing into cool mystery. When I get back from work I grab a cold beer and sit on the veranda to watch the light die. Now the beams enter the woodland directly. I realize there is an extra room in the forest, a smaller clearing beyond the first revealed by the heavy red sun. The tree trunks are painted bright pink and the leaves are dark. The gloaming sets in, turning the trees grey and the sky indigo. My bottle is empty.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Racy media

I have, of late, been reading Haruki Murakami's 'Norwegian Wood' on the bus to work - a recommendation of Dave Nelson's. It started innocently enough but it soon became clear that rather than having just one obligatory sex scene this book has many spicy pages - erotic enough to raise the heart rate of the most lustless reader. I turned the leaves a little self-consciously, chuckling to myself that for a shy guy Dave was very keen to promulgate this piece of culture. For culture it is, a beautiful story with an engaging atmosphere and lovely descriptions of Japan. Lea, Eric, and I have all read it now though I suspect the others read it without a stranger sharing their seat.

After the first couple of saucy scenes inadvertantly experienced in public I decided I was probably safe and it made me smile, so I decided not to save it for reading only at home. The next such scene carried me all the way to the last bus stop and I had to get out and sit down on a bench to finish the chapter before walking the rest of the way to the apartment. It was the hot lesbian sex scene - now almost obligatory in most forms of entertainment it seems - except it was told in such a matter of fact way that it was more amusing than lubricious. Of course I did not hesitate to inform Dave that he was a very naughty man.

This morning I managed to make the lady next to me get up and move seats. It may have been coincidental but she was looking over my shoulder just as the line 'Three guys at once! They're going to tear her open!' came into view. As a measure of how these scenes are merely accents to a rich and skilful storyline, it was interesting to note the look on Eric's face when I told him of this morning's incident. "I don't remember that line being in there!" He then told us a tale of a book he and his classmates read in highschool (a Catholic school) where his edition had had a line about masturbation removed. Shocking censorship revealed only by frantic thumb-licking, page-riffling comparisons at recess.

This conversation was taking place just outside one of the main entrances to the Harvard Medical School Quad. Dave and I were sitting at a bench having just finished a burrito and coffee for dinner and Eric was just leaving to go home. The racy novel theme led to the mention of 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' - another curriculum favourite. I commented that I now only recalled the awfulness of the TV adaptation with Sean Bean as the earthy adulterer. Eric mused that it must only have been shown late at night on French television or some such, to which Dave and I disagreed. "The BBC tend to air these dramatisations at family friendly hours of the day - just look at 'Tipping the Velvet'."

To Eric's quizzical look there followed a description of the period lesbian tale including such scenes as the heroine posing as a boy soldier and giving oral pleasures to old men on the street to earn money - along with the immortal line "It's a sov for a dubbing, two for a suck, but I won't be buggered!", followed by the scene where - having been taken under the wing of a mature lover - she was shown naked, painted gold, wearing a golden dildo. The contortions of Eric's face were exceptional. "And with that, goodnight." Eric sputtered before continuing his journey home. As he receded with others leaving the Quad he proffered, "I'm off to think of golden women." To which I replied, loudly to cover the distance, "And Dildos!" Eric did not stop or turn, but nodded mutely as Dave shrank redly into his seat beside me.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Helium-filled balloons pat at my face enthusiastically as I sit in the back of Lea's car. We have just finished watching a film (Chinatown) at Eric's place and Dave, in the front seat ahead, will be the first drop-off. The rushing warm night air from Lea's open window separates us with loud silence and I become a distant observer. I can see them both smiling. Dave is in profile speaking to Lea who is watching the road, her shoulders shaking with laughter now and then. Dave glances at me to include me in the joke I couldn't hear and I grin, silver balloons batting my left ear. Clutching at one of innumerable soft toys that get scooped out of the way whenever Lea gives us a ride anywhere (which is often) , I feel happy and giddy and lucky and a part of something.