Sunday, April 17, 2011

Past Her Bedtime

You might have read in the newspapers—or was it the funny papers—about Yupeng Deng. His recruits called him Supreme Commander.

Well, now he faces 13 felony charges for fake military operation in the San Gabrielle Valley. (This is certainly not the only, nor the most interesting, fraud brewing in that Valley; I mean, somebody please do an investigation of that Dragon Boat Green Card Lottery. Yeah, some say San Gabrielle is a hotbed for fraudulent businesses and crooked schemes. Sometimes residents of that Chinese immigrant community can rarely trust that their own husbands, wives, and children are not just faking the relationship.) Anyway, Mister Deng recruited gullible immigrants with promises that they would receive U.S. Citizenship, immunity from any moving violations, and membership in any diner’s club if they gave him 300 bucks. This way Mister Deng created an army unit of Chinese immigrants, distributed U.S. uniforms, marched in parades, and convinced the recruits they were preparing for real training for the U.S. Army. In Mister Deng’s Army Unit, a group that was a registered nonprofit in California, a recruit could donate extra money to increase his rank or win medals or star pins to decorate his uniform.

The judge heard Deng’s case and ruled for immediate deportation.

Yupeng Deng is now on a plane that is taking off from LAX. All is safe. All is well. The stock market still rises and falls. The world is still messed up, but Yupeng Deng has securely fastened his seat belt and sinks into his airline seat on his way back to his native land. We might safely assume that his mother will not be proud, but we don’t know that for sure.

All we do know is that there is a woman with her baby watching that airplane from the terrace of their apartment in Playa Del Rey. She’s pointing out the plane to her 14-months-old daughter, who is fascinated. She’s saying, “Fei Ji! Fei Ji! Fei Ji!” because she knows some Chinese, and everyone insists she must teach that language to her baby. For Baby, what is special about tonight’s airplane sighting, an event she witnesses with glee at least a hundred times a day, is that the child is witnessing the event for the first time at night. Only at night does the aircraft take off shining its brilliant landing light, a light that outshines all the stars. When the plane reaches a certain altitude, the brilliant light quietly shuts off. The mother and child continue to watch the plane, now with its duller navigation lights merely twinkling, blending with the stars as the plane ascends into the dark.

“Bye Bye,” Baby says and waves. Baby blows kisses to the airplane. Mommy—who works for Wages for Motherhood, which also happens to be a nonprofit registered in California—follows Baby’s lead, mirrors Baby’s gestures, and waves bye bye and blows kisses. They wave bye bye and blow kisses and point and shout “Fei Ji” until the plane is out of sight.

Maybe someday Baby will meet and fall for someone like Yupeng Deng. Certainly Baby’s knowledge of Chinese language will come in handy then; that story might be interesting, but it would take too damn long to write. All we really need to conclude from the progression of this yarn is that Baby is awake way past her bedtime.

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