Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting a Letter in Chinese

During my break every time we have language class, I go buy breakfast and chat with the cute pastry girl. I'm already in Chinese mode, I figure, so I might as well practice what I'm learning. Most of the time our conversation is pretty mundane. If there are other customers there it might only be saying hello. Sometimes we talk about something a little more substantial, like when she explained why I had two Chinese dimes that were worth the same amount but were different sizes. ("This smaller one is newer," she said, "see? 1990. And this bigger one is newer, from 2003.")

A few weeks ago I was buying some rolls when she started telling me something about her friend, practicing English, and writing letters. I didn't understand everything she was saying, and Sol, the guy I was with, wasn't much better. He did make sure to ask if her friend was pretty. The pastry girl's answer was, "She's a little fat," but I'm assured that in Chinese that's not a really mean thing to say.

Nothing really happened after that, and I figured that her friend must have found some other American to write letters with. Just this last Friday, though, when I came in to the bakery, the girl said, "I have something to give you." She handed me a note and said that it was from her friend. It was all in Chinese, and I was really excited to see that I could read about half of the characters, even though the characters were kind of sloppy. Basically the girl had to leave on the 21st to be with her family, but when she got back she would bring me some jam. I didn't understand the jam part until my teacher explained it to me. In the bakery the girl was explaining to me that those characters had to do with a name and a fruit, but I didn't really get what she was saying.

I've taken a picture of the note so you can see how fantastic it is to be written to in Chinese. (And to marvel at how much I "can know above".) I hope the girl isn't a stalker, like some girls the people we've met have turned out to be, but this letter doesn't have a marriage proposal in it, so I think I'm still safe. And I might even get some jam out of the whole thing.


Sheri said...

Aaaah, those hand-written characters! Crazy-looking enough to wonder if I've studied the same language? Congratulations on being able to read them at all.

Aunt Gwen said...

Are they "smiley" faces on the letter?

Anonymous said...

Not just "smiley" faces - she put her phone number on the letter!