Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Every 10 seconds, someone dies from tobacco use

My 10-year-old brother asked me to come up with an introduction for his oral presentation on hamsters. He sat cross-legged on the floor as I came up with a half-assed example:

"Uh ... A lot of people buy hamsters as their first pet, but here are some things you should know before, ya know, buying 'em."

"That's awesome!" he enthused.

About a half-hour later, my mom came rushing into my room with her buoyantly rotund son trailing behind her, literally trying to drag her down by the shoulders.

"Don't tell Lily!" he begged, grabbing her neck and wrestling her to the ground. "I don't want her to know! Don't do it, I said!"

"[Your brother] say!" she said, gasping for breath as he ran away with his hands cupped over his ears, "your introduction. Is. So. BORING."

Apparently, he was looking for something "cool" to impress his friends with and what I suggested just didn't cut it. So my mom offered to spice up his assignment at no extra charge:

"What about, WOW! Hamsters! *jazz hands* So good! 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... 8 ... 9 ... 10! Oh! And they all die! Yah! Gi' me five!"

OR

"Hi, my name is XXXXX. Everybody! I look like something to you?" I burst out laughing before she could finish. "Yes! Hamster! So cool, yeah!"

Only my mom could create so much enthusiasm for an animal she only recently discovered wasn't a mythological creature from a syndicated cartoon series.

***

So this obscure Beijing TV station I talked about working for this upcoming summer ends up being CCTV: the China Central Television Station ("Television network for the People's Republic of China"). I was originally accepted into their culture sector because of my interest in artistic production work (*cough* filmmaking), but the man in charge passed me off to the news department after my mom mentioned to the liaison what I'm currently in university for. (Fingers crossed I'll be sent to CCTV-9, the English International channel. They need all the propagandist help they can get.) When she informed me that the Big Guy personally okayed my placement, my first reaction was, Holy fucking mackerel, this can't be happening. It's not enough that I got by on my language skills alone, but that they somehow got the impression that I could easily integrate myself in a highly professional environment without ever having met me. Sounds fishy? You betcha!

I'm still in shock. This is crazy good news. My first career break has happened so soon and so miraculously, it appears almost flippantly flukish. I'm ecstatic. This is marvelous, absolutely marvelous. And I blame it all on (in addition to everyone else involved, bien sur) Mr. O, my high school English teacher. Who would've thought a chance encounter, and subsequent friendship, with this amazing man would inspire me to diverge from the carved path hardened by generations of academic tradition?

I know, I know, I'm starting to resemble an acceptance speech dedicated to all the black women who came before me, but this is such an exciting opportunity. It's comparable to finding true love, giving birth to twins, and getting your first hot meal since your wife kicked you out of the house for shagging the nanny in an attempt to make her jealous but backfired because she made more of a fuss over the Egyptian cotton sheets you soiled in the process. 'Nuff said. Need I say more?

***

I spent a good 40-minutes with a few of Sexy Spinster's friends this evening. Without elaborating on how I felt about them (hint: "bland" is a euphemism), I will say moving to Montreal was the best thing I did for myself. Anyway, as we stood outside in the parking lot, Sexy Spinster observed how well I gelled with her brother after he dropped us off to meet them. "I can't believe you and A. were actually bonding," she said, genuinely surprised. "You two used to always fight."

"That's because this is the first time I've seen him sober."

She's partly right. I admit that we've bickered every time we've encountered each other, but I don't think we've ever "fought". I mean, what she interprets as a heated exchange, I view as humouring intoxicated saps. I think it's kind of funny that my ability to throw verbal grenades ends up being advantageous to forging potential friendships. What sort of person would also find comfort in coming up with creative insults and offensive epithets?

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