Wednesday • Two Doctors and Walnut
by Sammy Chen
a person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous.
"since his marriage, Brett has become a homebody"
In other words, me.
A few days ago, a woman I have never met told me I looked exhausted. Well, she didn’t expressly say it. She asked if I was tired, so I derived her impression of my energy level from that query. I figured I shouldn’t tell her I had been going to bed at 8:30 P.M. every night and waking at 7:15 A.M. every morning almost consistently. If anything, I’m getting “too much” sleep. (I quote from my friend.) I don’t think she would have been as proud of it or as satisfied from that information as I am. In hindsight, that woman had been a doctor my friend recommended to me when I confided in him my suspicions of an oncoming cold. Turns out my ailment was easily cured with some warm soup and a good TV series to latch onto. Maybe my body is physically averse to boredom?
Hah. What a thought.
My friend is convinced there’s something amiss with me though, so today I also went to see a counsellor who happened to be our mutual acquaintance from high school. He was friendly, and the room had this pleasant fragrance of roasted green tea, but we mostly spent the session talking about my breakfast habits. I usually have the same things in rotation according to the seven days of the week. Today is Wednesday, so I had tomato and scrambled eggs on toast, and a cup of piping hot coffee. I didn’t mind the counselling because the counsellor had a serene and unhurried way of moving and speaking.
Oh right, I got so excited over meeting two doctors in one week I had forgone introductions. Sorry about that.
My name is Sesame, but you can refer to me as “The Homebody” because that’s what I am. Currently, I seem to be 23 years old but I’m told I’m not living it to its full potential by my only friend, Walnut. You might have surmised from the previous paragraphs but he doesn’t ever stop worrying about one thing or another and goes about his life keeping strict controls and rules that according to him “give purpose” to his existence. We didn’t exactly grow up together but we were peers in high school. In fact, we’re only close because we somehow ended up at universities that weren’t too far away so there were a few times we could help each other out throughout those years. Eventually we became friends. My dream was to live a blissful life, free from excessive waste and worry. I consider my current situation as being on track but Walnut disagrees. He’s a personal trainer at the local gym and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in...in...
“Hey Walnut, what do you master in again?”
“My major? Oh, -insert fancy science something engineering something sounds important-. I thought I told you the other day?”
“You did. I didn’t understand it.”
“In any case, I’m coming over at five with my stuff. My mom and sister came over so they’re staying at mine until the weekend.”
“Ah, you’re coming over? I’ll cook for two then.”
“Dude. We decided this yesterday.”
“So we did.” “-sigh- Doesn’t matter. See you later. I’ve got another appointment right now.” Ke-chak.
Walnut is always between appointments sometimes I wonder if he remembers ever having less than three things to do in a day. Our places are only two streets away from each other but he lives in a double terrace whilst I’m in a small economy apartment. Even so, you get how much he wants to avoid his mother and sister when they come over from Cityside to visit him in central Metropolitan. Allegedly he’s being pressured to bring home a prospective wife but that’s impossible because Walnut’s standards are too high. He’s always off dreaming about the newest drama starlet and styling himself like those celebrity lead actors. He’s so busy running around there’s probably not much time to stop and get to know his many female colleagues. Or at least that’s my speculation.
Oh, I’m lying down on the ground. It’s 2:17 P.M. Perfect time for a nap. Preparation for dinner is postponed then. I think some I have enough to make some vegetable soup and steamed fish...
... Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ding do-
Ah. That must be Walnut. He’s usually the reason my doorbell still performs any function.
“-long long sigh- I’ve been ringing for ages, were you dozing off or in the bathroom?”
“Oh, neither.” I held up my oven mitt hands to indicate I was in fact, in the kitchen. “The soup had just finished boiling when you rang.”
Walnut seemed to give my nap hair a once-over with his scrutinising glance but he didn’t have anything in particular to say so I stepped aside to let him and his gym bag in. Under his left arm tucked a neatly rolled sleeping bag. He shut the door behind him with a soft decisive click and slid the locking chain into position.
“You sure it’s appropriate for a young, robust single man like you to stay over at an unmarried woman’s house like this? Wouldn’t your mom jump to more conclusions?”
Walnut had already laid the sleeping bag, patting it flat before pushing it temporarily to the side. He plopped himself down cross-legged on one side of my square bamboo coffee table and inspected the little cactus with narrowed eyes.
“Save that for the neighbours. Picturing the both of us as any kind of couple would take a magnificent feat of the imagination.”
Can’t argue with that. I ladle two bowls of vegetable soup and bring them out on a serving tray along with two bowls of white rice.
“Dig in. There’s fish but it’ll take another ten minutes.”
“What is it?”
“I’d like to think we’re using spoons at least.”
“Oh. Right.” Don’t get it twisted. I use spoons like everyone else.
Dinner was accompanied by some Chinese tea and the buzz of a family game show. Each member has to complete an individual challenge, racking up enough points in each of their rounds to either gain an advantage or be subject to a hilarious handicap. Their energy was admirable, and Walnut seemed to enjoy the programme so I left it on while I washed the dishes.
I had planned to read by myself tonight having completely forgotten I was going to have a guest over. I glanced at the clock. 8:28 P.M. I better not be behind schedule. I look forward to sleeping soundly and fitfully everyday. Milan Kundera will have to wait a little while more it seems. I excused myself and left Walnut watching the TV. I drifted off at around 8:35 P.M.
A day well spent.