By Joshua Dent
My hands were nestled in each pocket of my USATF Nike gray hoodie last Friday morning. This is one of the few hoodies I could find without some velvety crap, or a smorgasbord of random words, and bright ugly colors draped across it.
The weather was sunny but cold. This was the reason my hands were locked to the old gray USATF hoodie.
That was when I spotted what appeared to be just a random and disorganized Taiwanese grandma out of the corner of my left eye as I headed west on Zhongshan Road in Chungli, “The Taiwan.”
This 65 year old slightly curled hair and messy looking woman was walking with her back tilted slightly backwards.
Although, I was kind of in what I like to call “Robot/Rainman – must get to the gym mode,” she quickly got my attention.
Some further people-watching, let me realize that her left pant leg appeared to be coming down, and her right pant leg was somehow propped up a bit. She was just a discombobulated mess. And, I was already “all in” to figure out why she was so clumsy looking.
That was when I realized this bizarre looking lady was manning the controls of carrying a 2 year old baby down the street.
Her own disgruntled mess was coupled with the fact that she was carrying this baby in one of the most awkward holds I have ever seen.
The baby was facing foreword.
As she under-hooked her right arm under his tiny little “baby balls,” she managed to have him hoisted about 18 inches above shoulder length on her five foot two estimated frame.
An under-hook to the baby balls seemed to be the least of this little dude’s worries. The crooked walking lady had a free left arm that she could use to manipulate this baby into even further discomfort.
She turned it up a notch in the discomfort factor by draping her free left elbow and forearm across his chest. She proceeded to smear her left hand across his face.
It looked like some sort of bizarre cross of a very strange game of grammy-inflicted hide and seek, and her using her fingers to manipulate an ugly face on him.
I was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks however as I continued my stroll along Zhongshan Road. After a quick glance, I heard a noise that sounded quite special. I actually heard this old lady singing to her baby. It sounded great to me!
In a land where most people cover their mouth with their hands when they smile.
In a land where people smile without showing their teeth.
In a land where talking above a whisper on public transportation can be seen by many as outlandish and rude behavior.
In a land dominated by collectivism versus the celebration and uniqueness of every individual.
In a land where kids can’t catch a ball if their life depended on it so they can study “The English,” and they still suck at it!
In a land where every single fucking person you talk to says “Taiwan has lots of delicious foods you must try,” and it all just tastes like noodles and rice to me.
In a land where all of this can drive a foreigner completely crazy.
I think my senses had been starving to hear somebody willing to stick out even just the slightest bit.
The note, the melody, nor the voice mattered one bit. Her willingness, and bravery to stand out even the slightest bit gave me a rush of peace and solitude that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
The even better part was that the baby was smiling from ear to ear, and you could tell the little dude was laughing despite his balls being cradled, and his face being smeared with pruney grammy hands.
Is it possible at 35 this story was a male version of a state of panic about not having any offspring yet?
I don’t honestly have that answer yet.
But, I will still take it for an amazingly surprising and spectacular moment.
I assure you these moments are everywhere!
Cheers to the little dude, grammy, and cheers to many more random moments of awesomeness.
This is about as awkward as the lady looked.