From "The Beauty of Aqua", Chapter 10 "Aqua Vitae"
Tonight’s Tết party started early. This one was thrown by the local Communist Party committee in front of their meeting hall across from my home and was quite well stocked. Cases and cases of beer including the most prized Heineken, buckets of large ice cubes and mountains of freshly caught tiger shrimp, thanks to our local fishermen, awaited us. Also a wall of speakers that could be heard from kilometers away and I was quickly dragged into the hurricane before me.
The beer flowed freely and the music was loud. Chị Giang was sitting next to me at our table when she grabbed my hand to dance which I welcomed. Almost on command a slow song came on and my partner closed up the gap between us. One song was enough for me so I returned to my table. Thủy had soon arrived from her house and might of seen us dancing. I had beer to drink but then heard her familiar voice.
“Anh ơi! We must go now.”
Slurring my speech a bit I replied.
“One more beer and we can go. My friends want me to drink.”
I raised my beer to the air, shouted “Một, hai, ba, vô!” and finished my glass of Larue.
“They are fisherman and will be here all night. You will not. I will walk you to your house.”
I waved goodbye to my neighbors.
“Hẹn gặp lại fellas!”
I doubt they understood the last part but thanks to the large amounts of beer and rice wine I’d consumed that night I had been inhibited from communicating on a more meaningful level. Thủy took my hand to keep me steady as she walked me home with the colorful, holiday lights illuminating my street above us.
“‘Hẹn gặp lại ‘fellas?’”
“Yeah em; what should I have said?”
“I would tell you but I do not think you will remember it or much else in the morning.”
Thủy was clearly displeased with me.
“I never drink like this back home but we don’t have Tết.”
We did have the Stanley Cup playoffs but I didn’t think it was the right time to bring that up. I vaguely remember dancing in the street and singing the chorus from a song about Tết that I had heard no less than one hundred times a day out of every loudspeaker in Đà Nẵng for the last month.
I drunkenly sang:
“Tết Tết Tết Tết đến rồi! Tết Tết Tết Tết đến rồi! Tết Tết Tết Tết đến rồi!”
Thủy regained control and set us back on track.
“You should not drink so much beer.”
Out of the blue I replied.
“A Vietnamese man without a beer is not a man.”
“Maybe you are becoming too Vietnamese.”
With Thủy’s help I made it home, barely managed to unlock the front gate and door and stagger to bed all the while hearing “Tết Tết Tết Tết đến rồi!” in my head. I’m not one to pay much attention to politics but I must say that night the local Communist Party had the best party.
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