If you ever wake up and discover that you are Priscilla Liu, simply follow these guidelines to emerge unscathed.
First, wear a fancy orange top, blue pants, purple socks and yellow pair of Converse; look like someone spilled his semester art project on you. March to the kitchen and make breakfast. Today is the cereal and chocolate milk day and not, as you had hoped, the blueberry pop tarts day. When the clock says 7.50 a.m. mechanically shoulder your backpack and leave the dishes on the sink. You are going to school.
Out of the corner of your eye, your school bus, which is too small to actually be called a bus, complete with the expressionless driver, is waiting. You climb on, and when the bus – or van – hisses and rumbles forward, you take out a book. A minute goes by and Pablo taps on your shoulder. The two of you then continue concocting a plan for next summer’s backpack trip in Europe.
“So we’ll bike to Rome and eat ice cream flavored pizza,” you hear him say smilingly.
Wonder whether such a tall tale could be true but decide it’s foolish to question such obvious facts. At school you shuffle to classes and look forward to amusing conversations with your friends. English classes always entrance you but you listlessly walk to Chinese classes afterwards. Inevitably, lunch arrives and you let out a long sigh. Glance at your watch and hurry to attend the newspaper club meeting. As the staff gets settled, gently remind them that neither saluting nor calling you ‘Chairman Mao’ is necessary. It’s almost ridiculous since “Priscilla” is a perfectly fine name.
There is no taxi home so you start theorizing about how the family planning program in China has failed to decrease the competition in getting taxis. Commend yourself on the brilliant hypothesis on your way home.
A hand stretches itself from a shadow behind you. The sight of your bag zipper widely open, revealing its contents throws you into alarm. Panic-stricken, you begin to holler at the culprit, demanding your cell-phone or iPod or wallet or history paper – whatever he stole – back. The culprit, dejected, admits he took nothing. Merrily return to your course and go home. Having a near-death experience has become part of everyday life since you moved to China. Make a mental note to buy pepper spray.
Store the foodstuffs in your refrigerator and make a start on the garlic. You are cooking pasta Aglio Olio. Just as any sane person wouldn’t eat macaroni without cheese nor eat cheese without macaroni, you eat dinner in front of the television – you can never watch TV without eating dinner or eat dinner without watching TV. After dinner, wonder why the revolution in 1905 failed to overthrow Russian Czarism and finish your history essay.
Change into cotton pajamas and sink into your armchair. Flip to page 77 of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and imagine yourself meeting Ezra Pound in his studio. Once the meeting is over, retire to your rustic bed and indulge in the sweet, momentary satisfaction of having gone through yet another day. Turn off the light.
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