Flower Power

Flower Power

This year for my birthday I requested “something personal” as opposed to say a steam iron or toaster oven. What I dreamed of was a day at the spa, an unlimited shopping spree, or a romantic getaway. Instead of those obvious choices, my loving husband presented me with a gift certificate for a full week of personal training at the Sunny Day Spa.

His gift sent mixed signals. Was I getting flabby? Losing my sex appeal? Or did he win the certificate at a poker game? I overlooked his insensitivity when I read that the personal trainer was to be – ripped biceps himself, Dan, the owner.

Dan is Sly Stallone, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig rolled into one gorgeous package. Back in the day, Dan was a linebacker for the Georgia bulldogs – a favorite subject for photographers, especially the female ones. Every part of his physique is taunt, tan, and totally yummy.

Without wasting a moment, I hurried to the mall and purchased a sports bra with matching yoga pants two sizes too small. No tummy bulge in front of Dashing Dan. Are there sport girdles? Of course, one outfit wouldn’t do for a week, so I bought one in every color. Then I need shoes – several pairs to look the part. So what if I racked up a few hundred dollars at Macys, Adidas, and Jared’s. Nothing sportier than a tennis bracelet?  Besides, I was miffed at my husband about the gift certificate thing.

6:00 A.M. Monday. Unusually early but here I come. Fortified by caffeine, I pulled into the parking lot where Dan, the Adonis of trainers, greeted me with a blinding smile straight out of a Crest commercial. He whistled at the hot pink latex number I’d chosen and gave me a tour of the day spa. We began with sit ups. I discovered that it is impossible to suck in your stomach while doing crunches. I just know this week is going to be wonderful. Dan’s motto today is “Don’t be a lazy Daisy.” So cute!

6:15 A.M. Tuesday. I am sore in unmentionable places. Only by incredible will power I crawled out of bed, smeared on Ben Gay, poured coffee into my travel cup, donned outfit and drove to the gym. I smiled through gritted teeth when Dan asked me to lie on a bench. Imagine my surprise when he placed an iron bar in my hands. As if that wasn’t heavy enough, he kept putting more weights on it. Only the scent of his Tuscany cologne pulled me through the agony. Today’s motto is “Don’t bump your nose, Rose.” Corny! But cute.

7:00 A.M. Wednesday. My body is one quivering nerve. My teeth itch. I have a hernia in my tennis elbow. I can’t turn my head to the left, so the journey takes twice as long. Dan’s perky voice grates my nerves. He said my screams on the treadmill disturbed others. After a cool down, Dan led me to a machine invented by someone who never heard of an elevator. 

Garlick Is A Girl’s Best Friend

Garlic is a Girl’s Best Friend

“You have dry socket,” the dentist pronounced with a sense of pride. He didn’t have to be so happy about it. I was in pain. The extraction had taken hours and I had lost a lot of blood not to mention pain and suffering.

“Take this medication and you will feel  better. Oh, and another thing. Put a garlic clove on the extraction site. You’ll not be bothered with people getting close to you.”

Was he being funny to make me feel better or could he be serious? I mentioned it to the nurse who dressed like a practitioner of Voodoo. She said “he’s serious. He often prescribes home remedies. His mom was a Christian scientist or something.” I wondered why he wore that funky emblem around his neck.

When someone is in pain, whimsy does not rank high. I went to the grocer and then to the library for a little G&R – garlic and research. What I learned was astounding.

First, garlic is useful for earaches and flatulence as well as known for lowering cholesterol and touted as an anticancer food. What was most interesting is that for the Greeks, garlic was the original Viagra. The article didn’t say how this was used – I assume it was ingested but what about your stinky breath? That would be a turn off even if it worked in the other department.

The medical journal I consulted recommended garlic for yeast infection in the female genitalia, but this wasn’t ingested it was inserted in the nether region. How it stayed there I haven’t a clue. I can only imagine a Greek with his garlic geek on approaching a woman recovering from a yeast infection. Perhaps one could cancel out the other.

I decided to give the garlic dry socket cure a whirl. It worked and social distancing is no longer an issue. It turns out that garlic not diamonds are a girl’s best friend plus I can ward off any Greek vampires.


The Marriage Contract

David and I married each other in order to save $1.00. I know we sound like cheapskates who trivialize the sanctity of matrimony, but let me explain. 


Back in the 1970’s, we met in a New Jersey grocery store. This wasn’t a “meet-cute” encounter. It was more like an Asian-immigrant-finds-another-Asian-immigrant-in-a-mostly-white-suburb situation. I was a toddler perched in the child seat of my father’s shopping cart when he heard someone speaking Mandarin. He raced over to the next aisle and spotted a Chinese woman (David’s mother) chatting away at a little boy (David) sitting in her cart’s child seat. My mom and David’s father soon joined the serendipitous meeting and from that day on, our parents were close friends. 


And David and I were buddies throughout childhood and adolescence…but never dated. In fact, together we discussed our crushes on other people. We served as each other’s trusty sounding board when we needed to analyze and vent about girlfriends and boyfriends. For example, during one of David’s torturous and seemingly never-ending relationship with a high-need girlfriend, I often had to talk him off the ledge and talk some sense into him. 


The summer before our senior year of college, we both found ourselves single. One night when we were out eating in ice cream, David suddenly stared ahead—spoon poised in midair—and somberly declared, “I’ll never get married.” Then, as if he’d never said anything somber, we resumed gossiping, polished off our desserts, and drove back to our respective parents’ houses. 


Inspired by his statement, though, I hastily scrawled a joke agreement between us: when the first person marries, the other person must pay $1.00 to the person getting married. The $1.00 would not only add insult to injury, but also symbolize the payer’s singledom status. Then I mailed the note to David.


A few days later, in the mail I received from David (who was applying to law school and practicing writing legalese) the following typed document: 


David S. Mao

[his home address at the time]


Helen Cheng

[my home address at the time]


Be it known that the above two parties have entered an agreement based upon an oral contract decided upon on the night of 26 June 1989. 


The outcome of this agreement will decide which party shall owe, in all accordance with the law, the other party the sum of one United States dollar, payable in either cash or check.


This agreement shall be decided upon when either party makes known his or her intention, and completed this intention of the sacred vow of holy matrimony. The undersigned party knows the rules and regulations governing this mutual wager, that there shall be no devious or underhanded methods that may in any way cover up or hide the fact that either party has participated in the above ceremony without the knowledge of the other party.


This agreement shall be void only of agree upon by both parties and in the presence of an unbiased third party.

Falling For You

I was doing it. I was finally talking to my crush of three years. 

His name was Liam, and he was tall with brown hair and gorgeous hazel eyes. He sat in the row of desks behind mine, and every day I would turn my head around and discreetly sneak peeks at him. I felt like Harriet the Spy, constantly gathering intel on him, but in a non-creepy or stalkerish way. At least that’s what I told myself. He was hotter than Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, and almost every girl in our third-grade class had a crush on him. 

Little did they know that Liam was in love with me. He just didn’t know it yet. 

I desperately wanted to be his girlfriend, but I was timid, and any time his name was so much mentioned, I would blush brighter than a schoolgirl reading erotic fanfiction for the first time. Even though we had barely said more than a couple of words, I knew that we were soulmates. The letter “L” is next to “M” in the alphabet, and if that didn’t mean we were destined to be together, I didn’t know what did. 

It was at the end of the school day when it happened. I was getting my things together when one of my friends, who just so happened to sit at the desk next to Liam’s, had beckoned me over. I turned around, pushed my chair into my desk, and walked over to her. We immediately started chatting, and Liam, overhearing our conversation, had suddenly decided to join in. He began cracking jokes in his usual playful manner and had even made eye contact with me. My heart had jumped higher than a man who discovered that his butt was on fire. This was the most progress I had ever made. I mentally high-fived myself for looking so irresistible that day. My training bra was finally coming in handy. 

I soon noticed that everyone was sitting at their desks, and, not wanting to draw attention to myself, I started to head back towards my own. Since I wanted to keep talking to them and prolong this beautiful moment for as long as possible, I decided to walk backwards to my desk. I didn’t dare let my eyes wander off of Liam for a single second. I didn’t want to miss any longing looks of lust and yearning that he would give me. Any minute now. 

Once I was sure that I was at my desk, I began to sit down, expecting to meet the hard plastic of my baby blue-colored chair. Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten that I pushed my chair in earlier and was instead met with the rough carpeted floor as I landed on my butt, eventually falling flat on my back from its force. It was like watching a turtle trying to get up after being flipped on its shell. Everyone had immediately stopped what they were doing and started laughing at me, including Liam.


Reynard was always a tornado of
energy, incapable of staying still in one place for too long. He was the first
though to be quick to explain his “condition”, as he put it.

have ADHD, you see, so I can’t help it that I’m frenzied and frenetic most of
the time,” my handsome thirteen-year-old explained to his latest girlfriend
while the two of them were sharing a double whammy beef burger with a mushroom
sauce topping at Burger King.

besotted with this lean, sparkly-eyed and dimpled teenager I regrettably called
my brother, gazed adoringly at him as he took bites of the burger while
speaking very energetically to her.

I sit still for too long, it’s like… I don’t know, I feel smothered, you know?
Or maybe like I’m drowning. Do you get it?” Reynard asked Laylah. I wondered if
she was even listening to my infuriating brother.

I rolled my eyes in
exasperated annoyance. Reynard could be such a dork most of the time. Being his
little sister had its advantages though, like this free meal I was getting
because Laylah wasn’t allowed to go out alone with Reynard.

I totally get it, Reynard. I promise you I do,” pumpkin pips for brains Laylah
swiftly responded.

okay. That’s good. But you know what? The only thing that calms me down is
music. That’s why I love to listen to the music on my phone whenever the world
becomes too slow for me,” Reynard confessed. “Isn’t that true, Tracy?” he
suddenly asked me, dragging me into his yawn of a conversation with Laylah.

I said, immediately regretting that I sounded like a retard. “Yeah, that’s
true. Only music can calm Reynard down,” I admitted. Then I added, “But only
the music of Michael Jackson. Reynard loves Michael Jackson to death!”

up, Tracy, and eat your burger before I feed it to the gulls!” Reynard rudely
threatened me, pointing at the greedy gulls circling outside the restaurant.

Laylah perked up. “Did you hear about the new wireless earphones?” she eagerly
asked Reynard, her voice rising excitedly. “Apparently, they are called
Bluetooth earphones. They don’t use wires at all. I don’t exactly know how they
work, but I heard you just plug the earphones into your ears and the music will
play directly from your phone into your ears!”

Reynard exclaimed. “Technology’s really awesome nowadays,” he added. “I’m so
glad I wasn’t born in an earlier time.”

can say that again!” Laylah agreed.

Reynard said before he repeated himself. “I’m so glad I wasn’t born in an
earlier time.”

I choked on a bite of
burger as I laughed at how literal my brother could be.

wrinkled her button nose in confusion, causing the freckles sprinkled like
brown splotches across the bridge of her nose to become animated doodles.

“She didn’t mean it
literally, you goofball! It’s an expression and it means she agrees with you,”
I said, unable to stop myself from correcting Reynard.