We the Heathens

Last night we go to have Chinese for dinner and my friend who is visiting from another planet is horrified (and perhaps a little excited also), until I explain to her that we are having Chinese food, not Chinese people. We go to a place that serves not dumpling soup, which I love, but soup dumpling, with which I am unfamiliar. The soup is actually inside of each dumpling, and everyone develops their own system of eating. As we poke our chopsticks voraciously into the folds of the Crispy Fried Whole Exploded Fish, which is delicious, it becomes clear to me that we would have no right to be shocked or mortified or outraged or even surprised or upset, should some creature from another planet descend upon the earth, pluck our people off the ground, fry us up, tearing away at our flesh with relish.

My friend Morton, a sweet and gentle man, is sitting quietly beside me with his uneaten hamburger. I don’t know how he managed to get himself a hamburger in a Chinese restaurant, but there he sits, and there sits his hamburger, with the top off. Morton says he wants live ants on his burger but does not want to go hunting for ants himself, so he is waiting for the ants to come to the burger, at which point he will put the top bun back on and eat. I tell him that he will probably have better luck with that outside, and he says that’s a good idea, thanks, and then goes outside with his hamburger, and that’s the last I ever see of him.

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