I went to Groton, a boarding school in MA near New Hampshire. Christmas was often a time to return to Boston and to Moh Goon, the Kung Fu school in Tai Tung Village. One time Fei Ma, (the woman who owned and ran Top Ten) would come over and visit. We had a student that worked at the Post Office and she got to talking to him because as it turned out, she also worked at the post office. I wondered if there was ever a time when she wasn't working. I mean we saw her in Top Ten all the time.
She was thinking of taking the holidays off which was a big no no at the post office. But I imagine, she was planning to do so....so she could cover the desk at Top Ten.
In any event one time she came over with many pieces of wood. I would imagine they were some type of Composite. The white type that you would get at Ikea.
She asked if me and Jing could make shelves for her. We would get some sort of discount off videos or whatever.
Side note: One of the Kung Fu students said that for a Kung Fu school to Have a TV was a bad idea. But if your Kung Fu School was actually some sort of secret clubhouse, like you see kids would have on TV as their Tree house, then it was awesome. Kung Fu and Gangster movies were played all the time. We had a rice cooker and hot plate there. Yo I lived there at one point. If you think about it, it was the ultimate secret Ninja Turtle lair or whatever hiding in plain site... and yeah we would do Kung Fu too.
So I had just taken a shop class at Groton. We had made a nightstand and were shown how to do measurements and what not. So I start doing that when Jing goes, "Why not just drill them all at once? Then they'll all be in the same place."
So we stack them all and go with that. Or was it Bak Gwai who suggested doing that?
So Bak Gwai, confusingly, was not Caucasian. He was a pale skinned Chinese guy who did handyman work and had happened to stop by. Everyone was stopping by all the time, but even more so during Christmas break it seemed. Not that any of these Chinese people celebrated Christmas at the time.
Of course all their cute little children would grow up to be Evangelized and mock Buddhism and the Chinese religion for being heathenistic religions of False idols. (This is why when I decided to try Church with the kids I opted for Catholicism. Which reveres the Saints.)
So in typical Chinese fashion Bak Gwai (who is Chinese) is watching me and Jing while leaning to one side crossing his arms and saying stuff in Cantonese. You may wonder that when Bak Gwai was around what people called me. The answer is simple. Gwai Jai. In fact Bak Gwai had given me the name when he referred to me as such not realizing that I spoke Cantonese.
So miraculously we put the shelves together in the most make shift way I had yet witnessed at the time only to realize we had done all this at Moh Goon, while Top Ten was across the Street, and why the hell hadn't we just built them over THERE. So we carry them over and stack them (rather dangerously I might add)
Fei Ma starts stacking all the video tapes up and Jing tells her to wait for the Liang lui to help her. Fei Ma said that only Liang Jai (the one guy I remember who worked at the store) would be there to help her.
Liang Jai (aka Handsome boy) was in fact Fan Huang, Chinatown and Malden business mogul, restaurateur and club owner. Reading Willy Jim's Post about Top Ten made all these memories resurface. Especially as we approach the holidays and I realize how different they are for me now than they were 15 years ago.