September 14, 2011


Last weekend, on the Sunday morning, early, we put on our go-to-meetin' finery and set off, map in hand, for family pictures on the kindergarten's dime, being our dime, as we pay the tuition and they don't just give services away for free. The invitation said 0900 in a such an obscene manner that you couldn't imagine. There's no good reason to be up that early on any Sunday. And to be lost amongst Chinese street signs makes the injury a double blow.

Car radio don't work, wife slept late, kids are hungry. And picky. We left the house at five minutes before we were to arrive across town at the photo studio. The street signs weren't making any sense. Our target was just this side of Chungde Road off to the right on a side street. We missed it the first time. As well as the second. The fourth time around the block, I opened Google Maps and experimented with several spellings before giving it up as a poor investment in my sanity.
After an exploration off to the right which turned up nothing more interesting than a hospital, I asked Maggie what the big, black box on the lower left represented. Turns out it was the B&Q on the Northeast side of town. There were other strange illustrations as well, perhaps the most interesting of which being an upside down isoceles triangle pointing at the character 北, which it may be helpful to point out indicates the general position of North on the map.
"What stupid Motherfucker puts 'North' at the bottom of a goddam map?" is a sentence pattern which you would be surprised to hear my sweet four-year old daughter spit out before she hears me repeat it a few more times and I hope it shall never come to that for as it is the only person I've encountered who sees this as normal is a Taiwanese photographer who uses a printed backdrop of a grand staircase in his studio for family portraits for people who want that fake I'm-in-the-money look.
There was no hurry to get there, though. Although all the graduating Kindy kids were supposed to be there, few could find the place.
Both the kids and both the adults in our family thought the photographer was an asshole. From the over the top costumes from 1001 Nights to the gimcracks the assistant put in Gretchen's hair we wanted out. I pulled Maggie aside, conferred with out eyes, and understood that we weren't buying any of it. And this was before he started whistling to get my daughter's attention as if she were a showdog.

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