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The Girl Who Mistook Wasabi for Guacamole
Or
Adventures of a Tomboy in Buffalo New York

By John Troesser
I had met her before but wasn't sure of her name. She's a medical assistant in a major Texas city. When she typed her name into the computer to access the machine that blows air into your eyes, I saw she had entered "Julia" and I asked if she had once told me of a restaurant mishap she had experienced. "Aren't you the one that once mistook wasabi for guacamole?" I asked. Instead of confirming it with a simple yes, she placed a hand on her hip and said in mock annoyance: "Well, they do look alike!"

The word wasabi (Japanese for tear-jerking - is an amalgam of two words - wa and sabi . Combined together, these words loosely translate as "to wash one's eyes with onion juice"). The word should not be spoken during eye exams, but it had been spoken and I was crying like Jackie Coogan when they told him his dog had died.

As we waited for my eyes to dry, Julia told me that wasn't her worst sensory experience. Taking the bait, I asked what was. Again, she answered me with a question. "Ever see that movie called A Christmas Story? My tongue started tingling with belated sympathy.

A delay in the next room allowed for the whole story to be told. "Well, when growing up, I was something of a tomboy" she said. Since she is Vietnamese, it was easy for me to imagine her climbing tropical vegetation, teasing monkeys or throwing rocks into abandoned minefields. I was a bit surprised to find out that her formative years were not spent in Vietnam, but (of all places) Buffalo, New York.

She continued: "Some of my Buffalo playmates had seen the movie and had "double-dog dared" me to put my tongue on the roof of a car. Not having seen the movie, I was game." It was not just any winter but the record-breaking winter of 1976-77 to boot. Flagpoles being scare, the group had first had to find a car under the blanket of snow. When the metal surface was found and swept, little Julie didn't hesitate as Slick had done in the movie, but jumped right in, adhering herself to what is remembered as a '72 Pinto - or a Gremlin.

There was no panic, but after confirming that tongues do indeed stick to frozen objects, Julie wanted to get back to whatever tomboys do in wintry Buffalo, New York. The inconvenience of doing this with a small car on her face, was unthinkable to the 8 year-old, so she quickly yanked her head backward, leaving her DNA along with several hundred taste buds on her neighbors car.

After recounting the pain and inconvenience of convalescence, Julie allowed that she was well-known to the local fire station. When calls went out from the dispatcher for the rescue of a child from a tree on ________ Street, the fireman taking the call was said to have predicted the house number.

Julie said that her tree climbing experiences have led to a better understanding of what goes through the mind of a cat when it looks down from what had been "a good idea at the time." She added that the budget-minded city services of Buffalo now charge $800 per call. Evidently she's still in touch with some of her rescuers.

Alas, the next room was ready and we didn't get all the details of her adventures of growing up with a chimpanzee - only that a life-threatening illness in the "old country" prompted her grandmother to order the simian companion.


© John Troesser
August 8, 2016 Column
More Columns by John Troesser | Fifteen Minutes of Separation
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