A few days ago I spent the morning wandering around with an older lady, about 70 years young.  And I say 'young' because she must have five times as much energy as I do.

I think she could outperform me in many things: races, dancing, maybe arm wrestling.  I don't really know for sure, I certainly didn't challenge her to anything like that, but sometimes we just know who not to compete with.

This older lady I'll call 'grandma' because she most certainly is one.  I could also call her 'mom' because her son, that I've never met, was born the same year I was.  We're both dragons on the Chinese zodiac, her son and I.  She doesn't do 'zodiac things,' but everybody knows the animal that belongs to the year here.  Or does the year belong to the animal?  For example, this is the year of the chicken, and I know that because there are chickens everywhere, not real ones, but pictures of them... everywhere.  Think of it like Christmas in America but instead of holly branches, Santa Claus, elves, and other Christmasy things you might see printed on Oreo wrappers and billboards, you see the Animal of the Year.  Only you see it all year.  Last year it was the monkey, this year it's the chicken.  How time flies... or does it swing through trees?  Wait do chickens fly?

'Grandma' is not quite five feet tall, I have no idea how many meters that is, (I keep forgetting how many meters tall I am, more than one, less than two) She probably weighs less than a hundred pounds, and she's always laughing and bouncing around talking a mile a minute.  So imagine a chubby white guy walking slowly up the sidewalk next to a older Chinese lady flailing her arms around and laughing most of time.  That was us.

Eventually we ended up on the fifth floor of a huge book store, about five times the size of a Barnes & Nobel with about fifty times as many books.  The fifth floor is where the English books are.  Not the books 'in' English, but the books that 'teach' English.  I enjoy grabbing the English books and flipping through them saying: "It's so easy!"  That's the only time I get to brag here, my English is so good!

So, after 'grandma' and I left the book store, and as we walked down the busy sidewalk, she told me that she was going to take me to a wonton soup place that we had passed on our way to the book store.  It had an English sign that said "Mombo Wontons."  I remembered that she had talked about it and pointed to it a lot when we passed by it on our way to the book store.  Apparently wonton soup originated in her hometown, Shanghai, you might have heard of it.  As she convinced me that we needed to go eat wontons, she told me something I didn't quite understand:  She said I looked like I would need 3 "wons" of wontons.  Of course, in America it would be insulting to tell someone that they looked like they needed a lot of food, her basic meaning was that I was fat and needed to eat a lot.  But it's not considered insulting here, and I actually took it as a complement.  There's so much of me.  I didn't know how many 3 "wons" of wontons was anyway, I was kind of hungry, and I've learned that it doesn't pay to argue with people who want to feed you something.  I remember thinking: "A 'won' (or wan) means 10,000 in Chinese, but I don't think she's ordering me 30,000 wontons.  It must mean something else."

I remember hearing, long before I even started learning Chinese, that in many lands it is extremely rude to refuse food and that people, foreigners, often find themselves in very uncomfortable
situations where they have to eat things they really really don't want to eat, or eat far more than they wanted to. But I have lived in Taiwan and in China and I have not found that to be a problem.  It is true that Chinese people love to be very pushy with food, they will try to 'make' you eat huge, unreasonable, quantities of food.  But do not fear,  this pushiness is just how they show good manners here, it is a show of hospitality and generosity, they will actually back down if you refuse, and I have never seen them with hurt feelings at my, or anyone else's, refusing extra portions of food.  They just have to try, it's like their job.  The other side of this custom is refusing to accept any food or beverage even if they kinda want it, but I won't go on about that.  I just accept all food that I want, and none that I don't want.  It's my own personal culture.

When we stepped through the front door of the wonton place, that 'grandma' was so excited about, we immediately saw three of our mutual friends sitting at a little table to the right waiting for their food.  This city is packed to the gills with restaurants, so the chances of running into them on pure randomness are slim, I think, my theory is, that 'grandma' had enthusiastically told them too about this wonton shop.  "Just like in Shanghai" she said.

There was a table next to our three friends so we ordered and sat down next to them.  I don't remember the following conversations, I probably spaced out for most of it, and didn't understand the rest, but it wasn't long until our friends' food arrived.

I pointed to the large steaming bowl of wonton soup in front of one of the girls and I asked her if it was "three 'wons'"  I was starting to wonder how fat 'grandma' wanted me to be, and how much a 'won' was.  She frowned and said, no, it was one 'won'.

Then I felt a little stupid: The word I was hearing as 'won' (Actually spelled 'wan' in Chinese phonetics) was the word for 'bowl'.  Grandma had ordered three bowls of wonton soup!

Of course this was one of the days that I had actually had a complete breakfast, sometimes I don't and I can get pretty hungry by noon, but today I was only 'kinda' hungry.

Fortunately 'grandma' didn't order three bowls just for me, really one bowl was for her.  But, in sticking with my rule about not having to eat everything just because somebody is telling me to, I didn't eat the last dumpling, I left one in the last bowl.  I was so full I could barely breathe though.  But I think I ate two bowls because they actually were really good wontons, and I'm a fat guy who likes to eat and forgets what words mean sometimes.