A Faceful of Dried Chili

Full of energy and play, the little boy was bopping between his family’s table and a second table next to me where another couple were sitting. He was also at the wrong place at the wrong time. The boy let out a wail, turned and walked unsteadily toward his mom, screaming in pain all the short way. Questions and answers passed between parents, the staff brought water and soon the boy’s eyes and mouth were being flushed gently.

The breeze ranged from zero to substantial. It spent enough time at zero that the big floor standing oscillating fans were sweeping the room. The dad at the second table had finished sprinkling dried chilli on his pad thai, so he dumped the unused portion of the spoonful back in the container – just as a gust of wind coincided with the sweep of the fan to carry the flakes at face level to the approaching boy.

Two things surprised me. First was how calmly the parents reacted. The second dad explained chili and the wind, the boys’s dad didn’t have a problem with that. The other was how quickly the kid quieted down in his mom’s embrace even though his nose and eyes were weeping fluid. Then it hit me. Twice I’ve seen dogs full of cactus spines stand quietly as one family member methodically pulled out spines while another talked in reassuring tones and stroked the dog. I’ve spent so little time with small children it seems I didn’t know they act just like dogs in such a situation.

On a happier note, the cafe has Vietnamese coffee that’s better than most of what I had in Vietnam. And they’re friendly to newbies:


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