The worst advice I have ever taken. This takes place in Taiwan and is written from a 9-year-old very narrow American POV.
A/N: Our first Creative Writing teacher this summer always gave us prompts to write about first thing in the morning. These ranged from 'you are trapped in an elevator' (a very fun one for sure) to 'create a passage containing this quote...'. This one happens to have been 'The best or worst advice you've ever recieved or given.' In this case, it's the worst advice I ever recieved. A quick exaggerated narrative- and while it's just bordering on the edge of a tall tale, I must sadly admit that this did happen to me.
"Come on." My uncle urged in mandarin. With my elementary knowledge of the language I only got the "come" but luckily my mom was there to roll her eyes and translate the "on" for me. "It'll be fun! It's your grandmother's favorite restaurant. It's very famous."
Just the mention of the fact that it was "famous" sent the alarm bells ringing in my head. Generally, when a "famous" restaurant was associated with my grandmother, it was more infamous, even amongst the locals. The old crone's strange like that. "Then why have we been driving through rice fields for the last twenty minutes?" I asked rhetorically in english/ From the back seat, my mom translated for my grandmother and uncle's benefit, and they all had a good laugh at my expense. I pouted and crossed my arms, settling farther back into the black seats as the car bumped over the dirt road littered with who-knows-what. I shivered. Just by the smell, I had a pretty good idea, but I didn't want to think about that, especially since we were driving to dinner. It was still light outside, and I began regretting not staying behind for a dinner with my aunt, even if it would be committing a gross violation of the unspoken rule: that the youngest child must put up with her grandmother on the old goat's birthday.
My uncle was -and is, a terrible driver. Of course, there is no such thing as a working traffic law in Taiwan, so by their standards he is a good driver. But by American standards, he should be behind bars. The man's a maniac.
The way my grandmother was chafing her hands with anticipation was making me nervous. To say that the stooped, wrinkly, grey-haired, squinty-eyed woman scared me was an understatement. She likes to spend her days cackling and squinting at me, always up to her old tricks, like turning on the fan when I was making card castles or "affectionately" whapping me with her cane. The woman terrified me.
My mom had convinced me to come in the end, a piece of advice that I was sure I was going to regret later and probably would leave me scarred for life. It would be interesting, she reasoned, her curly black hair bobbing energetically, your first true Taiwan experience. What, like living here for the past two weeks doesn't count? She translated and I again became the "funny, strange American" as she pushed me into the car.
My uncle went over another painful bump, then swerved into a very narrow lane, passing a group of rice harvesters who hailed us as we went by. Soon, a little red building, more of a shack than a building, appeared, surrounded on all sides by rice field. Suspicious location: check. Ungodly smell: check. Happy psychotic grandmother: check. Gleeful, cruel uncle: check. I shivered in the back seat. My uncle stopped the car in front of the building (there were only two cars there, one a scratched blue truck undoubtedly owned by the restaurant and the other a dust-covered passenger car) and we piled out, some (me) with less enthusiasm than others (the "sensible" taiwanese). I was determined to make this experience as good as possible, I thought determinedly, feeling my 'glass is half full' side kick in. So, with renewed vigor, I smiled brightly at the Yoda-like woman that was my grandmother, and casually glanced up at the huge red sign looming over our heads as we entered the restaurant, knowing I probably wouldn't be able to read it anyways. I'd never paid much attention to the writing lessons in chinese school- as long as you could speak it, right?
Had I known, I probably never would have walked inside.
The interior was nice enough, all handsomely finished wood (as was the wont of the tree-loving folk of Taiwan) and red signs grabbing the customer's attention and declaring their food good and reasonably priced. There was a tank containing shrimp, and another containing lobsters, and another that had water in it, but was otherwise empty. Our hostess led us into the back, where the little huts serving as our booths were located, looking out on a charming little swimming pool filled with brown water and some very happy ducks. Well, the ducks might be happy, but I wasn't. On the way in I'd spotted a tank containing an alligator. I seriously hoped there wasn't anything about this place that my mom had neglected to tell me. Of course, that was definitely too good to be true. This filial piety thing was really overrated.
"Moooom?" I asked, finally recognizing some of the symbols used on the menus they gave us. I pointed to one. "Tell me that doesn't say 'animal'."
My mom gave me a weird look. "Yes honey, that says 'animal'."
"Okay, then tell me that doesn't say 'wild', because I know that that-" I pointed to another symbol, "definitely means shop or restaurant."
"Didn't Uncle Masa tell you the name of the restaurant on the way in?" My mom asked puzzledly, casually opening her menu. My grandmother was already going through hers, a wide smile on her face as she perused her options. I shivered. Don't get me wrong, I love my grandmother- she can be a wonderful lady at times, fun to giggle with when my cousins do something stupid. I just don't like her tastes. "This is your grandmother's favorite restaurant. It's a wild animal restaurant."
I was catching flies, all the while staring incredulously at my Uncle, who had his menu covering his face. Funny that the menu was shaking.
As my grandmother gleefully chose a nice assortment of various bug dishes and slices of animals that I didn't know existed, I prayed that the night wouldn't end with me flat on my back from food poisoning, and I resolved never, ever to let my mom talk me into this kind of thing again.
A/N: I love my gramma. Really. When she's not dragging me off to eat mystery food, that is. R&R please!