Big Dipper by Matt Potter

“How do you expect to find a husband, Leona, if you have such high standards?”

“I know, Mum,” I said. “And normally I adore Americans.”

My counsellor insists I call her Mum. At first I thought it was strange, but I see her point: she’s the right age, my own mother is extremely deficient in the role and we don’t look unalike. Especially after she bleached her hair, lost weight and started dressing like me.

I pushed my sunglasses on top of my head – she says wearing sunglasses inside makes me look like I’m hiding something, though with my pink eyes, usually it’s just to keep the harsh light out – and examined the cuticles the Vietnamese nail girl had just finished.

“You’re not in Saigon anymore, Mai Bi’ch,” I said, craning to read her name badge. “They’ll need to be much better than that if you want to stay in this country.”

Mai Bi’ch looked at me, looked at the nails, and pushed my fingers back into the bowl of nail softener.

“I said, I love chips with tomato sauce, and he said, You mean French fries with ketchup? Now, where do you go from there?”

Mai Bi’ch readjusted the facemask over her nose and mouth, pulled my hand from the goo and attacked my cuticles with an orange stick.

“Ow!” I said, though it didn’t really hurt. And turning to Mum I added, “And he double-dipped his chips in the sauce.”

“Oh,” said Mum. “I see what you mean.”

.

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15 Comments

Filed under Matt Potter

15 responses to “Big Dipper by Matt Potter

  1. read this first on f’naut and feel the same, it’s quirky and real, has an edge. the older woman who dresses like the girl– he haw! so odd and funny.

    • Thank you Susan, for both comments. I think I might have been walking past the nail salon in a nearby shopping centre … most of the staff there are Vietnamese or Chinese. Maybe some of the idea came from that. But I also know an albino woman, and wacko psychiatrists and psychologists and counsellors are always favourites of mine, in fiction at least!

  2. Quite a lot of world packed in tight here. We must walk the same street. all our nail folks are Asian. I’m with you on the wacky shrink-types, too. Good stuff, per usual. Peace…

  3. I like how her name is a pun. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. Also, I could almost hear them talking in the salon. Nice one!

  4. Oh the name was fun. I did the usual google thing – ‘Vietnamese female names’ and those two came up, Bi’ch first, given it was alphabetical. Can’t remember what they mean though … thanks Linda and Catherine for reading, as always.

  5. Al McDermid

    Damn Americans, just don’t know the proper names for things. And double-dipping! Inexcusable.

    Great fun, Matt. Loved the contrast of the narrator’s bitchy voice and the girl’s name.

  6. There are deeper stories behind each of the characters that you’ve hinted at as you bring them together here. Nicely done, Matt.

  7. Kim Hutchinson

    I like this even more on the second read. Quirky and very real.

  8. grey johnson

    I somehow missed that our main character does not know her nail tech’s name (yet calls her mum) on my first read. So much here, Matt – race, age, class.

  9. Hi Matt, you are right in saying we have a similar voice in many of our pieces. I love the narrator here! Felt familiar. We ought to write one together. I think Dorothee Lang’s zine has a project going on (soon?) in which two authors combine to create one work. (anybody know?) Are you up for it? Merry Christmas darlin.

  10. stephen

    nice. i like this piece lots…the ghostly narrator, the duplicate councilor, the slippages of the names of things and the proper names.
    but mostly the voice, though.
    especially the voice.

  11. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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