A Chinatown Adventure

Or: Yet Another Adventure in The Equuschick’s and Shasta’s Marriage.

Thursday morning Shasta got up at 7 am and began to make pancakes. Since he had made it to bed at 2 am and The Equuschick had made it to bed considerably before that, at about 7:30 am she began to feel the uncomfortable prickings of both her conscience and her bladder. She stumbled out of bed with many a dreary yawn and an “Let’s see what’s on the plate for today.”

Neither Shasta or I The Equuschick are morning people. But what Shasta is, and The Equuschick is not, is a person who can make rapid transitions. He is either up and awake or asleep. Going to bed, for him, means taking off his clothes, getting into his pjs, brushing his teeth and laying down. Going to bed, for The Equuschick, means grabbing a bedtime snack, sitting down with a book, and the bedtime snack, reading her book, brushing her teeth, filling up a large glass of water, grabbing her book, brushing her hair, and laying down with her book. The morning routines are, in this same way, very dissimilar.

There are many stories in their marriage that illustrate this drastic dissimilarity. As The Equuschick made her slow and groggy way through the kitchen, she had no idea that he was about to spring another one The Equuschick.

“So,” he says, “my college class is going on a fieldtrip to Chinatown in Chicago today.” “Oh,” The Equuschick said. This was the first she’d heard of this. She wasn’t sure where he was going with it. “Are we allowed to go with you?” “Let’s go,” he says. “We need to leave the parking lot of the school by 9:15 am.”

The Equuschick had a Moment. She considered this. Then she surprised herself by not only agreeing, but not freaking out about it. (Being married to this man for only four and a half years has already stretched her flexibility muscles considerably.)

Mind you, she did ask this very important question. “Just out of curiousity, when did you first find out about this field trip and why did you only tell me this morning?” The Equuschick always strives to understand this approach to life of his. It takes the phrase “one day at a time” to a whole new level.

But his response was in fact, on some level, unusually rational. He had known about the field trip for a long time but was not planning on going at all because he was already swamped. On Tuesday he had discovered that if he did not go, he would have to write yet another paper, so on Wednesday, he was planning on writing a paper, but by Thursday morning, he had decided that he needed a serious break from the writing of papers. The Equuschick was inclined to agree with him. The overall reasoning went like this: A paper, only three pages even, meant three more hours at the library away from home and family, whereas a trip to Chinatown was something we could all do together and enjoy.

The Equuschick did take about twenty minutes on the couch drinking water and playing on facebook, and Shasta’s patience muscles are growing as well as The Equuschick’s flexibility muscles, because he tolerated this and did not rush or hassle her, even though her”collecting herself”, as she calls it, is a process he really regards as totally incomprehensible. He comes preassembled or something.

The Equuschick is still not quite sure how it happened, but by 9 am she was in the parking lot of the college with three children 3 and under, dressed and ready to go to Chicago.

Well, ready, that is, in Shasta’s terms. For snacks they had a bar of cheese and a can of olives. For water,well,they didn’t have water bottles because The Equuschick doesn’t think well in a hurry. She was also very resigned to the fact that they were going to be spending money. Lots of money.

The Dread Pirate Grasshopper was distressed by the lack of water. In fact, he has been distressed about alot of things lately. He’s been consistently on the verge of a melt-down for the last couple of weeks and The Equuschick has been struggling to maintain some Meltdown Tolerance. (This is a term she defines as the ability to maintain her own inner peace while the 3 mos is screaming to be fed, the 2 year old is peeing on the floor, and the 3 and a 1/2 yr old is on the floor in sackcloth and ashes because Mommy Broke His Banana.)

The Equuschick actually knew there was half a water bottle in the front seat of the van, but she was struggling to help The Dread Grasshopper’s better self rise above his difficulties. She wanted to get him to a point where he at least wasn’t shrieking like a banshee before she got him some water, because she did not want to ride for 3 hours in the van with a banshee. They tried several methods. She racked her brain and then tried this approach.

“Look, buddy. We are on an adventure. Do you remember that Bilbo Baggins went on an adventure with the dwarves in The Hobbit? He was hungry alot. He was thirsty alot. But he kept going anyway, even though it was hard, and they had to find food and water along the way.”

The whole time this was coming out of The Equuschick’s mouth, her brain was saying “Wow, this is so cheesy I don’t even believe myself.”

But to her surprise, it silenced The Grasshopper. He calmed down and thought about this, quite deeply, for several minutes. Then he reached a deep contextual conclusion.

“I don’t have a sword.”

“Ah. This is true. But Bilbo didn’t have a sword when he left either, he found his sword ON his adventure. We’ll keep an eye out on our adventure for swords, and food, and water.”

He was beginning to get inspired and said they could find the fountain at the school and drink water from the fountain. The Equuschick reminded him of the necessity for finding CLEAN water, and gave him the bottle from the front seat. He was quite cheerful by then, and asked which one in The Hobbit was the good wizard and which one was the bad wizard. “Gandalf was good. The Necromancer was bad.”

“Aha.” He then spent the next ten minutes observing everyone on the campus and classifying them into Good Wizards and Necromancers. “See that one over there Mom? He is a Necromancer. The other one is a good wizard.”

Alllllllllllllll righty, then. Whatever floats your boat, kid.

Then they were one their way. The trip there was uneventful, as the children napped.

And, as J.R.R Tolkien himself has pointed out in The Hobbit, while it takes a great deal of time to write about hardship, to write about pleasant things takes no time at all.

They did find swords. Also dragons, the DPG counted the dragons in the shops, on the architechture, and on the walls. They found books (,The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale and Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, and
Tikki Tikki Tembo.)

And they found yummy food and green tea. The Equuschick spent too much money going down Nostalgia Alley, Third Culture Kid that she is, and they went to a Dim Sung place for lunch where he had more green tea, and roast duck. (Which The Equuschick did not like. But the children did, so yeah them.)

Yes, that was where the Dread Pirate Grasshopper asked the waitress what the Chinese word for castle was, and The Ladybug all but disappeared away and was rewarded by the waitress with COPIOUS amount of fortune cookies, it was ridiculous.

Shasta and The Equuschick could have stayed for hours (he was reliving some nostalgic Korean memories himself), but since the children had been (mostly) amazing for hours, (longer than two hours, in fact, hence our $50 parking ticket) they thought they would quit while they were ahead and bring them home.

So home they came. And as The Dread Pirate Grasshopper said the next morning, “I had fun when we went to the city! Let’s go again tomorrow.”

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