Chinatown Virgins
I gave the badass boys of Texas Heat their first taste of a Chinatown sidewalk, complete with the grime of chicken blood, fish guts and turtle shells scraped clean. I never saw cowboys dry-heave so quickly as I did that day. It must’ve been the bloody aprons and cracked, white knuckles of butchers slicing up live bullfrogs. Or how the guy fingered the gills of carp, snapping the heads back and forth.
Whatever the case, the culinary freak show wouldn’t spare the poor boys as cleavers and deboning knives clicked and jabbed, plucked and skinned. “Was that chicken really fluttering around without its head,” asked one badass, his face turning white as a cold, lone star. “Yes,” I nodded and we moved along.
“Shei-Shei,” a woman shouted, money in hand. “Three-dolla, three-dolla for you, Mr. Xiang,” another said. The street was heavy with human traffic. Darting children were everywhere, colliding into housewives, paper umbrellas, electric eels and giant octopuses. All this and no place to vomit. “This is too much for them,” I thought. So, I led them further down Mott Street where I treated them to ice cream and cake. There they sat for half an hour, licking spoons and sipping straws, slowly regaining the color in their badass, Texan faces.


copyright 2001, Frank Messina
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