Pho bo

24th September 2020

I was with Jay at a Vietnamese stand in the Fremantle Markets. Jay ordered the two Phos, pho bo and pho ga. "Did I say that right?" she said to the lady behind the counter.

"You sounded like you were talking to a baby," I said.

“Yes, yes,” the lady said. “Pho bo and pho ga.”

We sat. The food came out. We ate using chopsticks and a little shovel-like spoon for the broth. The noodles were slippery but I was managing to eat them competently enough. That’s what I thought anyway. Then the lady came out and put a fork next to my bowl. She looked at me and said, “Easier,” and walked off.

Insulted, I shook my head but Jay reached for the fork. I lightly slapped her hand. “Don’t touch,” I said.

“What if I want to use it?”

“C’mon,” I said. “We’re better than that.”

She nodded. After we finished we said, “Thanks so much,” and handed the bowls back over the counter to save her the trouble but I made sure we left the fork on the table. I wanted her to see that I didn’t need it. “That’s ridiculous,” Jay said after I explained to her my reasoning.

“Now she will know,” I said.

“Know what?”

“That I can use chopsticks.”

“You're overthinking it. She won’t even notice.”

“You’ll see,” I said. “She’ll see, too.” We muscled through the crowds. I tried to weave between people but strangers kept bumping into me like I was invisible. One day, I thought, you’ll see, she’ll see. Everyone will see.

. . .

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