I probably don’t need to tell you this, but the fashion over here is slightly different than back home. Not completely different, mind you, but there are certainly trends here that I can’t see as catching on big in the States – loud neon colors, fake eyelashes (for the ladies), and anything with English on it, regardless of how much sense it makes.
They also love monkeys. Love them. A lot. There are little cartoonish monkeys on everything, from T-shirts to tea stands. Now granted, everyone the world over loves monkeys. Everyone loves going to see the chimps and other primates at the zoo; and who among us hasn’t wanted a pet monkey at some point? They’re just awesome little buggers, even when they steal your juice and drink it in front of you. But monkeys as a formula for hip fashion? That’s not really something you’re gonna see Stateside.
Oh, but you’re gonna see it here. And you know what? I kinda like it. Most Taiwanese have a great sense of humor, and as a people, they don’t take themselves too seriously; and I think that’s reflected in their fashion tastes, including the monkey prominence. And that brings us to today’s little story.
On Tuesday nights I teach a conversation class. It’s my favorite class, because these kids’ English is quite good, and we get to just sit and have pretty advanced discussions and play fun games involving that day’s topic. A few weeks ago, two brothers joined my class. James is 12, Danny’s 9, and they’re easily the funniest kids I have. They crack each other up, and they crack me up. And it’s fun to crack up.
Anyway, during their second class with me, I noticed Danny’s bag – a white vinyl (maybe fake leather? I don’t know these things) messenger bag, with – of course – a cartoon monkey on it. I don’t know if it was just late in the day, or maybe I’m coming around on some of these Taiwanese fashions, or maybe it’s just who I really am… but I told Danny his bag was awesome, and I asked him where he got it. Now, were I to have such a bag in my possession, would I ever actually use it? I couldn’t say for sure, but I definitely wanted the to have the option.
James said that their mother had gotten each of them a bag like that at some local market. Exactly where, though, they weren’t sure. I shrugged my shoulders, said ok, and that was that. I didn’t think about it again. Until about 24 hours later.
Right as I was saying goodbye to my evening class on Wednesday and getting ready to go home, Danny and James showed up at my classroom door and presented me with a big Adidas shopping bag. I had no idea what they were up to and was certain it was some sort of joke. But they insisted the bag was for me. And so I pulled a bundle wrapped in tissue paper out of the bag, unwrapped it, and laughed with delight.
Of course, it was a white vinyl (maybe fake leather? I don’t know these things) messenger bag, complete with a cartoon monkey, and he was playing guitar. Apparently, they’d told their mom that I liked their bag and asked where they’d gotten it; I guess she had an extra one lying around (of course she did), and told them to give it to me.
I told you these people were fantastic.