I like to come out as a serious-looking, serious-minded person. It’s not a compulsion, just a habit. So ordering this Thai soup last night from the Thai-food kiosk around the corner was made in my usual stern, earnest voice – ”One No. 12 to go, if you don’t mind!”.
However, the people inside the kiosk, the proprietors (I should point out that the kiosk had earlier been a measly medium-to-low-quality Lebanese hot-dog stand), looked at me with eerie, vitreous stares. And if that wasn’t enough, all four of them were standing like a phalanx of Greek hoplites, pointing the narrow ends of chopsticks against my face and upper body.
Nasty, but I was safe, of course. The narrow kiosk window between us prevented any bodily harm to my person, from chopstick attacks. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, when I retreated from the overtly unfriendly zombie-like Thai family, I was confronted by two frequent customers of theirs. I recognized both of them – the man was from No. 82 (my apartment’s street address is No. 76) and the woman works as a weekend attendant in the nearby tobacco-and-porno shop, half a block away.
Both looked like -- well, I don’t know what to say. Petrified is hardly correct, because both of them actually moved, but in a stiff sort of fashion. Rubberified? Puttified? Whatever, these creatures looked at me with the same vitreous look that the members of the Thai family business had afforded me. And they were threatening me with pointed objects, or at least pointed objects at me. Not chopsticks, mind you.
I was too unsettled to try to verify the identity of the pointed objects (could it have been a small dildo in the case of the zombie-like woman?). So I hurried back, to No. 76. On my way home, a terrifying walk of some 70 metres, I met one more person. In this case it was a little old lady. She had the same frightening glassy stare, and pointed her incredibly old-fashioned umbrella at me.
Since then I’ve stayed in my apartment, closing the Venetian blinds, and subsisting on wasabi-coated nuts and red wine. People in my neighbourhood seem to have turned into ill-mannered zombies. I don’t like people pointing pointed objects at me, nor do I like glassy-eyed stares. Do you?