Hue, Sue, and SF Heros

Entering our current morning eating place (my dad and mine) my autonomous-system forced me to cringe when it registered that the front door bing had been replaced by a cacophonous leather belt of reindeer bells bouncing off glass. My reaction caused the owner, Hue Lee Chi, to proclaim with every one of his terrible teeth on display, “You can’t sneak up on Hue no more.”

As he unnecessarily led the way to my father’s second-favorite table, (I could see Dad’s back from the door) I toyed with the alternatives: ‘Hue can’t sneak up on you no more,’ ‘Hue can’t sneak up on Hue no more,’ or—my least favorite—‘You can’t sneak up on you no more.’

I took the seat facing my dad. Hue began to offer me a menu as he said with all his normal nodding and teeth, “Same same?”

“Yes, thank you, Hue Lee.” I pronounced it almost like Julie but with more breath around the J and almost no tongue around the L.

“Okay. Good. Good. Almost right.” He said keeping the menu and entering the kitchen.

Dad enunciated, “Hew can no longer sneak up on Yue.”

“I think I preferred the previous possibilities of being snuck up on.”

“That’s a lot of bell disdain, coming from you.”

I smiled at Dad’s snide reference to my back-to-a-wall-face-to-the-door thing and turned it into a smile and nod of thanks as Hue brought my strawberry soda and topped off Dad’s coffee.

Hue returned to the kitchen.  In the middle of Dad’s statement: “I asked about why the sleigh bells in September and Hue acted like I was the first person to mention a holiday correlation ...” the bells crashed the arrival of another customer and Hue came out of the kitchen. “... so as a year-round thing it’ll certainly take some getting used to.”

“Something’s happened to Hue’s wife. I can’t remember her name.” I said.

“Why? What makes you say that?” He turned in his seat and looked over his shoulder as if I had just witnessed something, then turned back when all he could see was Hue taking an order. When I said nothing, he said, “Oh, it’s that thing you do isn’t it?”

“Yea. It’s that thing I do.”

“Suki or Sue Kee. I recall Hue calling her Sue.”

I must have done something with my facial muscles because Dad said, “Don’t start with it.”

“What?” I tried an innocent confused look.

“You were gonna do a how-could-I-recall-calling-her-Sue routine or somesuch. Don’t change the subject. What did you discern?” He skewed the word discern in such a way that it sounded like he was both skeptical and proud of that thing I do.

“The bells; his past body posture, facial expressions, and routine movements—compared to today’s; and his continued use of a verbal patch.”


“The bit about not being able to sneak up on him. He used it with you, me, and them.” I motioned with my head at the people who had just given their order.

“People use familiar words or phrases over-and-over to patch over gaps. Sometimes the gap they think needs patched is merely a pause so they’ll use umm, or ya know, or like. Other times the gap patches-over the truth. I think Hue is using the sneak-up bit so he won’t have to explain the real reason bells are there is because he has to spend more time in the kitchen, which means Sue is not back there.”

“So, maybe, she took the day off. Why do you think something bad happened?”

“His smile is turned up an extra watt or three. He is carrying himself stiffer. Some of the reasons are not easy to put into words and when I do they sound flimsy all naked and alone by themselves.”

Hue’s arrival with my dinner of short ribs, rice, steamed vegetables, and tofu with a side of kosher pickles, and Dad’s sausage omelette with extra-crispy hash browns and side of muffins breakfast, paused the conversation.

After eating for a while, Dad said, “Are you going to test your theory?”

“Not a theory,” I explained. “A fact which you don’t have sufficient evidence to believe exists yet.”

“All right smart guy. How bad of a something do you think has happened?”

“Hospital bad.”

“This food tastes and looks the same as Sue’s.” He said.

“Just means Hue’s insuring everything goes out the same.”

Hue returned to top off drinks and I said, “Jue-lee, when will your wife return from the hospital?”

Hue’s smile crawled back inside his mouth as he said, “How you know? Food not good?”

After we assured him it was great, he said, “Suke’s mother have a stroke. She be back after couple days I hope. But, my nephew he cook good. You still notice different though, hunh?”

“I didn’t notice any change in the food. The food is great. I could tell from your behavior. You put loud bells on your door so you could be in the kitchen more.”  I pointed unnecessarily at the door.

“Oh.” His face seemed to relax back into it’s normal explosion-smile of terrible teeth. “I get it!” He nodded with exuberance. “You doing that hero thing.”

I looked at my dad. His confused-expression indicated he hadn’t previously said anything about that thing I do to Hue.

Hue continued with, “Why hero always eat at Asian restaurant?”

I decided hero was not the word I was assuming it was, and in order to get out of my confusion I replied with, “I don’t know...why?”

“I dunno either. But Bladerunner, he eat Asian. Fifth element guy...Bruce Willis: Asian. Name a ess eff hero who doesn’t eat oriental food.”

I got it—weeks ago, he and I had talked about my love of old films—and I smiled. “Well, the guy from Dark City: he ate at an automat.”

“Ahh” He waived the idea away, walking toward his kitchen, “Noir don’t count. Noir always gotta eat at a diner. You find an ess eff hero that eat something besides Asian, you tell me.”

The way I run this thing you'd think I knew something about it. — Bugs Bunny

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hack again?!