Today when I was coming in to work, the postman stopped me in the hallway and shoved a box at me. (It had to be mine because it was addressed in English!) I just stood there for a moment, looking at the return address label for a while, thinking it had to be some kind of collossal, intercontinental mistake.
I opened it in the office, and it was a box of books! Not just any books, although any English texts would have been amazing, but a dozen children’s classics. Including some of my personal favorites, like The Lost World and Around The World in Eighty Days. Sturdy hardcover editions, unabridged but with annotations for unusual phrases, the best editions for a school library.
“Who’s that from?” the two office secretaries asked me as I opened the box.
“Um, my ex-boyfriend,” I said.
“Does your boyfriend know that your ex-boyfriend sends you long letters and books?”
I decide not to get into an explanation of the difference between know and worry about, and I say “No, the letters are from my friend Eric. This is from someone else.”
“Is it the one who send you the poems that made you cry?”
“No, that’s Marcus.”
There’s a brief conversation which I’m sure involved the Chinese for “what a slut” and “crazy American girl”.
“It’s from someone else. I may not have mentioned him… we don’t really get along very well.”
“The ex-boyfriend you’re not friends with sent you this box?”
They confer again in Chinese before saying “I don’t understand Americans.”