Well, after the two weeks of vacation that fell squarely near the 33 percent mark in the semester, we’ve been back to work, which mostly means teaching and sweating in the post-Tet heat. My A/C in the bedroom hasn’t been working for some time, so I usually fall asleep and then wake up feeling sticky, but I suppose that the majority of people here do the same, so I shouldn’t complain. My only justification is that I come from a place where it’s so cold that the people here can’t even imagine how cold it is, so I should at least be given a “cool haven”; a place where the temperature is close to my natural habitat.

A week ago I had my final birthday party in Vietnam, which may have been close to the the best one ever, except for the lack of college friends, family, and pizza. I got more presents than I can remember for a long time, but lots of, I would say, professional gifts. For example, I got not one, not two, not three, but five shirts. Other things such as: three belts and two sets of a tie clip and cuff links. I don’t even own a shirt in this country with French cuffs! And only one at home too! The shirts, in their little caskets, sat on my shelf for one week while I contemplating trying them on, but was put off numerous time because of all the packaging. I finally opened them all and tried them all on today, but it took a fair amount of time going through the process of opening them.

Step one: opening the box. This may or may not involve tearing through the tape that holds the box shut.

Step two: opening the plastic bag. Not much of a struggle, but still another step, and you have to ask yourself, “what’s the purpose of a bag if there’s a box?” Step three: beware of the little pins. It’s the twenty-first century and all now, are these really necessary? Isn’t there some advanced adhesive that can take care of this problem?

Step four: the main piece of shirt cardboard. This is where I ask the question, “why is it a cardboard box if there’s more cardboard inside? Isn’t it all doing the same thing?”

Step five: the collar. This can possibly be the most ridiculous thing ever. Clear plastic supporting the inside of the collar, with cardboard supporting the collar under the fold. Plus the plastic at the collarbutton too.

Step six: checking for various little tags and possibly stray pins that may have been missed during step three.

Step seven: unbuttoning the whole thing. I mean, every button.

Step eight: the actual trying-on of the shirt. Hopefully you’re gotten all the pins out and don’t poke yourself/start bleeding.

Step nine: get it off! get it off!! It’s freakin’ itchy!!

But now, finally, I’ve taken care of the process of unpacking them all and trying them on.


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