June 18th, 2001

JOY

A little of column A, a little of column B

I can take a cue as well as the next person.

I have long mulled over a theory that came to mind shortly after my relocation from Northern New Jersey to Northern Virginia. Moving to another place allows you to see many subtle differences in the local color, culture, and practice, but most glaring are the differences in stores, television channels and restaurants. Take the feeling you get when you watch the Weather Channel in a hotel room and see a different map on the local radar and multiply it by a thousand.

I moved 246 miles south from my childhood home in New Jersey to Fairfax, VA in the fall of 1995. The first differences are the most obvious: gone are Greek-family-run diners, Italian-family-run pizzerias and Jews; here are clean, well-lit, 24hour convenience stores, chain pizza mass-producers (who actually deliver), and Protestants. Roads are wide, malls are new, the guy behind the counter at the deli blinks a few too many times when you ask for a toasted poppy with butter. But one thing remains the same: Chinese food restaurants. Whether the high-end sit-down type or the carry-out genre, they’re pretty much the same wherever you go. The most striking similarity, however, is the names. This makes me believe that there is some sort of guild or union of Chinese Food Restaurant Owners that you must register with before opening your Chinese food place.

Upon being granted permission to open the restaurant, the CFR Commission hands you two pieces of paper, with an identical list of words on each. The restaurant owner is then instructed to choose a word from each page to name the restaurant. Garden, China, moon, wok, golden, panda, Hunan, duck, Peking, lion, palace and other such words appear on the list. These are the only options. They must be, or we’d be ordering from more places with names like “Sam’s Chinese Bonanza”. Look next time. Think about it.
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JOY

Rule #1: You Do Not Talk About Fight Club

Through no one else's fault but my own, I fell down on Saturday night. While at a carnivalistic party, after having drank odious proportions of alcohol, I fell up a few stairs. My justificaiton for this is that the first step was shorter than the rest, thus jarring my already limited sense of balance. This is embarassing in and of itself, but I managed to fall against the exterior brick wall of the house, scraping the length of my forearm and gauging holes in my knuckles. I was immediately laughed at, and while I wached the blood well up on my hand, I begged to be cut a little slack since I was legitimately hurt. But this brought no respite from the ridicule. Fortunately, I was at the point of the evening when I could not feel pain, so all was well. I also had the presence of mind ot take an Advil before I went to bed. All in all, I think I handled the situation well.

The point of that seemingly unnecessary exposition is that since that night, I have been walking around with a large scab across my right forearm and three on my knuckles. Two people have commented upon it, VJ and Sara, friends that I went to lunch with. The people at work have said nothing. Granted, they don't often say much to me, but even those who I am more social with have looked, noticed me noticing them noticing, and then looked away. No one has asked me what happened.

It makes me wonder what they think I got into this weekend that is so twisted that they don't even want to bring it up.

I remember something being said about this very phenomenon in Fight Club.
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