Gayle Ann Weinstein
Writer: Novel/Novella Memoir Short Story
First fiction publication “American Buddha”
Winner of bite size contest, Jane’s Stories Press Foundation
In China there are many folk tales and superstitions. For instance, a television set in the bedroom is believed to symbolize allowing strangers to come into the marriage, ultimately resulting in infidelity. Another example: two competing corporations have special architectural features on their buildings to ensure financial success. One has a large circular hole going through a flat obelisk that rises high above the building. This is to enable the power dragon sent from the corporation across the street to fly through without injuring people or profits. The company with the power dragon has a flat shield in front of its building to repel bad energy from across the street. The hole and shield neutralize one another so both companies prosper.
When Howard booked a three-week tour to China with his travel agent he didn’t know much about Chinese culture. He wanted to go because his doctor warned him that being overweight with a bad heart, liver and lungs might cut his life short. If he was going to die young as the doctor predicted, Howard was determined to die with the taste of Peking duck with plum sauce on his tongue or the tang of shrimp dumpling washed down with a glass of beer.
At one of the stops on the tour Howard seemed to be always in the way of two Chinese couples taking snapshots. Finally, in their broken English and by way of pantomime, the couple told Howard they wanted to touch his stomach. Each rubbed his stomach, bowed, smiled, and backed away smiling.
Later, the tour guide told Howard that a double chin, protruding belly and long ear lobes meant good luck, prosperity and long life in China. “You look like our most revered Buddha,” the guide said.
The next morning Howard went to the American embassy to extend his visa.