Rita

Before my kids started their Chinese school (see, I tried!), I didn’t have any Chinese-speaking friends, either Mandarin or Cantonese. Then it just mushroomed. I met Rita thru one of my g/fs at a dinner in a private room 10 years ago. As soon as she walked in, she took over the conversation, and few minutes later, she whiped out a red color exquisite velvet box, soliciting rings priced around $4,000 each. When it’s my turn to inspect them, I said “You looked familiar … have we met bofore?”
Her reply? “Yes, we’ve met on the street.” :)) … I like witty girls, for there aren’t many.

The first Chinese school we attended was Tzu Chi 慈济, (ci ji) Rita and George were there as volunteers with their three kids in attendance. One morning we sat face to face drinking coffee and tea, I noticed her pretty necklace, and told her so. She immediately took it off, handed to me, “yes, it’s very lovely, 18k platinum” and quoted me a price. I was stunned, didn’t know how to respond. Being very thin skinned, I took out wallet and paid.

She used to own and run a small boutique in Flushing. I’ve never been there, but judging from few friends who bought from her (then quibbled), she sold no brand medium quality girly outfits. The whisper I often heard was that she wore a lot of counterfeits, but in my humbled opinion, she’s the one who really knows how to dress, and always dressed appropriated – the last laugh. Clayed in designers from head to toe doesn’t qualify someone as having taste, for money won’t buy taste nor style. It helps to have some thou. Apparently, she’s just very comfortable being herself.

Once she tagged alone to cloth shopping with me, destination: tennis pro shop in town. She doesn’t play but bought two sets.
“What’s for, Rita?”
“Oh, they’re so cute,” she replied.
Next thing I knew she wore them, quietly sat on the court with her back to the sun, watching me sweating it out with the coach. This group of g/fs are not out doorsy, they covet fairer skins.

Few months after that, one day we had lunch and she showed me her new watch, “I saw you wearing it, so I bought one too. … Oh did you know it’s very expensive?” I have no idea how to respond either; and was disappointed she didn’t ask me why I like this kind of watch.

She was bit nervous in getting her citizenship, self mocking that she won’t even remember what her hubby’s name in English.
“Just tell them it’s George Washington” I teased her.
She asked me to drive her to the interview and dressed down, showed up in an Ann Taylor outfit. Yes she passed. I had no idea where to go and what to do, for I had no desire to become a citizen. My Chinese passport could go more places. The likes of Kaddafi, Castro or the Cabbie would have Golfer – the American – as breakfast and perhaps would invite me for a meal, :). But while waiting for her at the INS, I checked out the whole thing and decided to become one: my green card had expired and was told to get a new one at JFK (when I returned last time from Europe). Saving the trouble to renew every 10 years, I pledged my allegiance to the USA.

When I met her, she just quitted her hard partying life due to illness – drinking all night with bunch of guys (she never elaborated the life-changing reason, but described her previous life freely) … slowly getting into Tzu Chi. George had a jeans business, is a great husband and dad for the little I know, very solid, tacit, kind and supportive. I am not sure who leads who into Tzu Chi, but now George devotes full time as the skipper for the Northeast region, injecting a lot professionalism. Rita sold her boutique 6 or so years ago. They raised enough money purchased headquarter for the New York chapter ci ji, providing all sort of services, including Chinese school. Rita asked the kids tonight if they would like to come. Oh well, pls spare me, don’t ask how my kids responded.

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