In “New China Special,” a Memoir of a Marriage, a brief, intimate piece that combines personal memoir with creative nonfiction, a mother shares with her child a series of vignettes – all related to Chinese restaurants in some way – about events that occurred before the child was born or not old enough to remember.
Here’s an excerpt from the first vignette:
Outside in the fire lane, your daddy waited in the Beetle, my first car. (I hate to say it, but I can’t remember its color now. Peacock blue? Emerald green? One of those.)
I slid onto the passenger seat as your daddy put the car in gear. He drove straight down the fire lane, right off campus and down the avenue due west eight blocks. In Huntington, WV, laid out along the Ohio River by a railroad engineer in the 1870’s, this meant the university and the restaurant were precisely eight-tenths of a mile apart.
On the way, your daddy said, “Bet I can do it faster than you.”
“Bet you can’t,” I said.
Your daddy parked a couple of spaces past the restaurant and we scooted out of the car.
The green pagoda sign was on and New China was serving lunch.
My stomach growled as we sashayed arm in arm in the door between the display windows. The one on the right contained what looked like an orange tree, only tiny. Sometimes its scrawny branches held white blossoms or knobby little fruit. The left window featured an arrangement of packaged Taiwanese tea and fossilized egg rolls.
Menus tucked under his left elbow, the maître d’ met us by the front counter. “Hello, how are you?” he said, stressing the lo and the you.
The maître d’ was a middle-aged Asian with a nearly bald head. He wore a gray cotton jacket over his shoulders that rounded forward and tan pants. As we walked by him, he bowed and launched his usual question after us: “Uh, a booth or a table?”
He should have known the answer. We always asked for a booth. In New China a booth was a little room made of rickety partitions about seven feet high and, for a door, a curtain on a rod across the opening. (He didn’t know the reason why we always wanted a booth. At least, we hoped he didn’t know.)
“New China Special” is now available for only $0.99 as a Kindle Short Read at www.amazon.com/dp/B07ND5F9X9 (and it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.)