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Monologue Mania Day # 386 by Janet S. Tiger The Bean Cutter's Story March 5, 2015
The Bean Cutter's Story (part 1)
by Janet S. Tiger
(c) 2015 all rights reserved
(An older Chinese man enters. He is smiling, nodding to the crowd)
Oh, thank you, thank you, this is so nice! Like to see all my friends so happy. When they tell me I am getting this award, they say I need to make speech. I don't know about making speeches, even after so many years in this country, my English is still like suit jacket that does not fit right.
So they tell me I can tell story why I am so happy all the time. That would be nice, I like to tell that story. It is the story of my happy.
Good time to take drink of wine, so if story is too long, nobody will mind.....
This is story about me when I was a boy.
My father had restaurants in China before the war. He loved the business very much. He always say to me, restaurant business is hard, need to have
Zǒng shì hǎo deI think it translates to....always good. Food must be always good. Same. Not better one day, good the next. Always good. So when people come, they can depend on the food.
Kung pao always same hot, crunchy noodle same crunch in mouth.
One time different, people not come back. I have many restaurants here in this country. Same thing.
People love to eat out, he would say, but they do not want different, they want same.
So from when I was little, I work in restaurant. Sweeping first job. I hate sweeping, dust get in face. Father tell me that we need to be clean, people do not want bugs in food. See one bug, same as a million. So I sweep.
No child labor law. Too young for school. I was four, maybe five, and I got a promotion.....to be assistant to bean cutter, Lee, nickname Zhuang, because he have big bump on head. Zhuang mean bump, so people laugh at him. Family left him after he fell from tree, never right. My father hired him to do things at the restaurant, never let me laugh at him.
The first job in a restaurant which is not sweeping or cleaning, the first food job with a knife.....that is the bean cutter. My father tell me that every single piece of food is important in every restaurant. And the bean is most. Why the bean? I ask.
He say, beans are very cheap, but good beans add bulk to food, good flavor, take spices well. More beans, less meat needed. More money in pocket.
Money very important to my father.
He take me out back to the alley where Zhuang was cutting, tell me to watch Lee cut the bean tips off. No one likes the tip, especially if it is black. And my father always bought the beans with the black tips, cheaper. But still taste good without the tip. But you have to take off the tip. Some people break off tip. Not my father. Too much waste.
I learn to use knife. And the tips go into a bowl that was my mother's before she die. Now it is chipped, but my father is very superstitious. He save everything from my mother, who died when I was a little boy.
So I sit with Lee, and he cuts off the tips so no more rotten end, just green. He cuts so the tips fall into my mother's bowl. It is puzzling to me. Why not let the tips fall and have the dogs eat them?
Lee laughs and says, 'wait, you see'
And so I watch, and after he finish almost all the beans I see, over on the other side of the alley, a woman and her daughter. They are both very skinny, watching Lee cut the beans. When he finishes they run over and take the tips and put them in a basket which is old. But they are happy to get our throwaway beans.
I watch. The girl is not much older than me, but she is little. They look sad. The next day, I get to cut some beans. I make a decision. I cut the tips, but leave some green . Lee does not seem to notice. So I cut some more, with more green.
Now it is a game. I cut the bean, and leave more green.
The beans are finished, and the mother and daughter come and take the tips from the bowl. Suddenly, they grab the last of the bean remnants and race off.
I feel a darkness behind me, and my father is yelling, ' what are you doing, stupid boy! you are throwing away my money!' And my father picks up one of the leftover bean tips, inspects the length of the green ....and he hits me. Hard. Very hard.
But I do not care. I am happy, because I have helped someone. And I know what I am going to do with my life.
I can see that moment as if it was yesterday, and I am still happy.....
(to be continued)
Janet S. Tiger 858-736-6315
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8