Haven’t you ever wondered if the Chinese get sick of eating Chinese food? When I (the Googly, restless American) grow bored with the usual hot dog or the Hamburger Helper stuffed burrito I concocted, I turn to other food sources…in particular Asian cuisine (besides Cup O Noodle). Problem is, every time I do an engine search for Chinese recipes, the ingredients require me to shop Chinese markets. While there, I can never decode what all those Chinese characters on Asian food packaging mean, because, like most Latinas, I don’t speak, read, or even think (as in “mathematically savvy”) Chinese. Yes, of course, the store will sometimes translate into American English (on price labels) what the Chinese characters on the packaging say…but that is cheating! In my usual auto didactical manner (which comes around as frequent as my country tends to stay out of war), I, as of today, decided to make a game out of decoding Mandarin, Cantonese, and Chinese pig Latin (whatever that is).
The first lesson (and really only lesson) in decoding Chinese via the American way is to follow an artsy, Lesbian’s advice (kinda like Gertrude Stein…actually just Gertrude Stein) by applying the words to one of her famous poems: “A rose, is a rose, is a rose.” If a figure looks to be in a shape of a tree, by Georgie, you may just be right in guessing that the Chinese script reads “tree”. In watered-down semiotics: if it walks like a duck and stinks like a duck, its most likely:
a) not edible
b) inspiration for a red-neck reality show
c) a duck
d) all of the above.
If you answered “d”, then you need “special help” like I do.
Basically, you must look inward and find that entomological Zen within to crack the vast buffet of Chinese codes. How else would you best enjoy wearing that T-shirt you picked up for a dollar on that Hong Kong business trip?
Here are some Chinese (?) characters I have come to decode in enigmatic style:
***NOTE: Actual translations not known.
Premature Ejaculation (aka “Smile, its raining.”)
Death By Stabbing (aka “Drop dead!”)
Magic Potion (aka “Another trashy perfume by another trashy Pop star”)
Fellacio (aka “Eat Me!”)
This Side UP (aka “Idiot, this is in Japanese.”)
Alright, Alright, Alright (aka “I’m doing well.”)
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.
(aka “Old man from west make long wind.”)
And last (and most least), I crack the mystery behind the Chinese script that doth spell my first name “AMANDA” which literally translates into:
Beware of Crazy Woman (aka “If I should knock on your door, don’t just stand there, run like hell!”)