Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I'm A Chinese Stand-up Comedian: Work Humor II

I have had a great time reading at the University Club of St. Paul.  My reading caused roaring laughter.  Here is the story and you can laugh yourself. I will download the video to YouTube and share soon.

Can You Tighten My Bra
 By Lisa Wharton 05/30/2014

I knew her through work like most new people I have met nowadays.  We often ran into each other at the only bathroom in the garage.  Yes.  My office was built into the first floor garage of an air conditioning company where I worked as a consulting engineer.  I often walked along dollies, big heavy machinery, and giant sweepers operated by men.  Sometimes I passed by a group of workers standing in line to punch their time cards. Their often-leering stares sent shivers down my spine.  I didn’t belong here and I knew it.  But I tried.  That’s why I started talking to our cleaning lady, Mona, in the bathroom or the hallway.  She was a loud petit woman of 63 and loved to talk.  Of course, I wasn’t sure I liked talking to her all the time. 
“Hey, Lisa.  Would you like to come to my house for a Jewelry party next Saturday?  I live really close.” She asked earnestly, which was reflected by her huge eyes behind her glasses.
“I don’t have much time, especially on weekends.  Sure.  I will think about it.” I didn’t know how to just say no to my new friend.
She immediately offered me a postcard and a thick catalog that had Mary Kay in it.  No, I didn’t want to have anything to do with Mary Kay.  I heard myself shouting.  Then, of course, if she had a pink Cadillac, then I might consider it.  I wouldn’t mind knowing a good Mary Kay saleswoman.  But I would never wear that kind of costume Jewelry.  Who did she think I was, just an airheaded model?
She loved to look at herself in the mirror.  She seemed to never have a good hair day.  She had matted, straight, shoulder length hair, which reminded me of steel spikes pointing down.  But she liked to comb it even though there was nothing really to be combed.  She liked to adjust her glasses on her wrinkled skin.  She said, “I’m tired a lot”.  Even though I was so tired of hearing it, I did sympathize.  After all, she walked the whole day throwing garbage around.  She often cried about her twin sister who died of syphilis and her brother of diabetes. 
One day she told me, “I’m going to a concert in two weeks and one day and 8 hours.”  “Which concert and where?”  I asked politely.  “It’s at the Maplewood Community Center,” she said with the same enthusiasm.  “Have you heard of Bret Michaels?”  Her eyes suddenly all lit up.  She said in such urgency as though if I didn’t know about him, she would slap me.  “No. Who is he?”  Of course, I had never heard of him, but I wanted to learn more.  “He is a very sweet Rock & Roll guy.  Oh, I can’t wait to see him. I’m in love with him.”
A couple of days later, I ran into Mona in the hallway.  She stopped the big garbage can on wheels and tried to take a few pictures out of a sandwich bag.  “See.  This is HIM.  Look, he gave me a hug.  He kissed me, too.”  “Nice.  He looks very cute”, I said.  “Yeah.  He is so cute.  I love him so much.  I’m his groupie.” “Does your husband care?” I asked.   “No.  He knows that I’m in love with Bret.  I go every concert he has in town.  I wish that I could afford to go to some out of town ones.  I love him so much.”  She said with tears in her eyes.  I didn’t exactly understand her love for this hippie singer.  But her emotion moved me and I started to like her a little more until something else happened.
I ran into her in the bathroom one day.  When I got out of my stall, I saw her looking at herself in the mirror as usual.  She looked engrossed in private thoughts.  In order not to disturb her, I picked up my teacup and tried to slip out of the door. Then I heard, “Hey, can you tighten my bra?”  “What?” I couldn’t believe my ears.  “I hurt my right arm yesterday and can’t lift it up.  Can you help me?”  She said sincerely.  I didn’t know how to react.  I didn’t really mind helping her.  Yet from all the sexual harassment training I had at my previous jobs, I knew I shouldn’t do it.  It could get me in trouble.  What if she decided to sue me?  But I couldn’t just refuse.  She would be offended and then I still had to see her every day in the bathroom or in the hallway.  It would be awkward.  If I helped her, it would be awkward, too.  So I decided to treat it with humor.  “You have weird requests,” I said.  “Besides, I also hurt my arm yesterday. You see.” I pretended having trouble lifting my arm. “You are out of luck. Maybe you can ask one of the guys to help you.” She laughed. “You, bad girl.” I smiled innocently and slipped out the door before she could react.  During the rest of the day, we just said “Hello” to each other whenever we saw each other in the hallway or bathroom.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to laugh.  It might have been a totally innocent request.  I remembered once that she asked me to scratch her back.  I actually helped her.  She just simply didn’t know the current corporation sexual harassment policiess.  She didn’t even know how to “work” the computer in her own words.  So how could she get computer training about sexual harassment?  I was desperate to share this incident with other people as kind of a bad joke.  But I knew if I did, people might misunderstand the situation and reach a different conclusion.  They might even think we were lovers. Eventually I did tell it to the lady I often ran into in the changing room before and after running.  She laughed, too. 
Two days later, Mona came to my cubicle and said, “I’m so sorry to have asked you to, you know?  My daughter told me to apologize to you.”  She looked sincerely sorry.  “No problem.  Don’t worry about it”, I replied.  “I just didn’t want to get into any trouble.” 
In the next few days, I thought that even though Mona was the most uneducated person I had ever known, she was actually an interesting person in her own way.  Now I don’t work there anymore and I even miss her sometimes.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Some Humor From Work

I often meet people at work who are hilarious. I don't know whether it is true for everyone. I'm familiar with a writers's dream of quitting their day jobs and becoming a full time writer.  I really sympathize with that. Actually my favorite place to write is on the beach in some tropic islands just like what Ian Flemming did. He wrote many James Bond books by staring at the sea. Who knows what I will see when I'm in the same situation.  Artist Jasper Johns goes to St. Martin every winter just to produce amazing art. So I will definitely try the same and I will do it soon.  I actually have been to both Jamaica and St. Martin. The French side of the St. Martin is the most beautiful. I have attached a beautiful picture of Oriental Beach in St. Martin for your enjoyment. Anyway, enough day dreaming.  

In the last five years, I find my day job is most inspiring and stimulating. It prompts me to write many comic stories. I will share them here one at a time.  The story I share today has caused a room full of people laughing when I was giving a reading at the University Club of St. Paul. It has happened at least six years ago and I have changed the names so no one will know who he is.

 By Lisa Zhang Wharton

If I could, I would smash his ugly face.  If I were allowed, I would pull his blond hair off his stupid head.  If I don’t get into trouble for killing him, I would stomp him to death (metaphorically).  That was how much I hated him for calling me “Stupid”.
I met him at work, which is how I meet most people nowadays.  Work had become my home away from home.  His name was M.  He was a short, blond and well-built middle-aged man.  When I first met him I found him weird because besides constantly typing at his computer, he also would continually eat Grape nuts.  He always kept a big bag of it in his cube.  Who would eat Grape nuts all day for fun unless he was a “nutty person”.  For a while, our workgroup either had celebrations for finishing our projects to the 50%, 90% or 100% point, or “Goodbye” lunches for many contractors we had laid off.  I could soon be one of them.  Sometimes I could imagine myself lying on the chopping board, being slaughtered or simply being run over by a car.  Luckily I was still working due to my long hardworking experience or my pleasant personality.  Maybe it was both, or neither.  Surviving as a contractor in a technology company was not easy.  Not showing up at parties would not be looked upon as a positive.  Once I asked M whether he was going to a free lunch/barbecue.  He said, “No.  Why would I want to socialize with people who are not married to me or related to me?”  This comment was the most blatantly anti-social behavior I had ever seen.  I was even impressed.  I mentally added another comment next to his name besides “Weird”, “Lovely eccentric”.
One day, he came near my test station to talk to D who was my friend and also a Caucasian.  There were many East Indian engineers working here.  I thought M had a hard time relating to them due to his small pea brain.  Even though I was not Indian, I had already made many Indian friends within a few weeks.  He started talking to D about “chips”, the “computer chips”.  I was fascinated.  Even though we were engineers here, most people preferred talking about potato chips.  After half hour of intellectual jostling, my mind started wandering.  I knew what his problem was.  He couldn’t stop once he started talking.  D was smart.  He told M to talk to me instead, so he could get back to work.  I didn’t know when I stopped listening.  All I knew was that for the next half hour I just nodded my head while whispering to myself, “Nerd, Nerd”.  I definitely would put “Nerd” next to his name.  I began to worry that if I kept listening to him, people would start calling me “Nerd”.   That was how serious it was.
One day, I was sitting in a station next to M’s station, typing away.  The reason I used this station was that it had a faster computer.  Since I had automated my tests, I could let it run by itself.  So I started chatting with him to pass the time.  He told me that he was going on vacation.  “Where are you going?”  I asked.  He told me about some place in Iowa, which sounded so boring that I didn’t pay attention to which town it was.  He told me that he could put in 40 hours work in two days and go on vacation the rest of the week.  I looked at him with my mouth open.  “How could you do that?”  I asked.  “Just work 20 hours a day!”  He said causally.  “I can go 20 hours on and 4 hours off.”  He was not only weird but also the hardest working person I had even known.  Later I found out that he actually didn’t work twenty hours a day.  He just said it.  Did he try to impress me?  If so, there was no need.  He had already impressed me with his weirdness.
I didn’t know at what point he started to dislike me.  He gave me no reason or warning.  All he did was being rude to me.  Then I realized that it was not him who didn’t like socializing, but rather the other engineers who didn’t like to mingle with him.  Also he had a habit of ignoring every woman engineer’s opinion.
One day, I saw him chatting with another engineer, which intrigued my curiosity so much that I made a mistake of joining in.  Of course, it was not pretty afterwards.  He and the bearded engineer were talking about driving accidents.  I remembered that I had something spectacular to report.
“One day, as I was driving to work, the car in front of me rear-ended the car in front.  I slammed on the brakes, knowing that it might be too late.  Miraculously I stopped just one inch behind the car.  Hurray.  Without stopping for another minute to calm down, I went around the cars and drove away because I didn’t want to be late for work.”
“Do you know there is a state law requiring a material witness to an accident to file a report with the police?”  He cocked his head with one of his satirical smiles.
“I didn’t know that.”  I said honestly.
“You are stupid for not knowing such a simple law,” said M.
He called me stupid.  He called me STUPID.  I didn’t remember anyone ever calling me “STUPID”.  I could feel my head expanding, blood rushing toward my brain, and vessels on the verge of bursting.  Actually, a few capillary vessels had already burst.
“You, asshole!”  I couldn’t help blurting this out.  “You, asshole!”  The second time, it was louder. 
Then I raised my fist. 
“Stop, lady.”  He tried to stop my fist from hitting his face. 
“You stop!  You try to use the rule: that the more you ignore a lady, the more she likes you.  Let me tell you that I’m not that kind of lady.”
I hit him in the face.  The blow was so weak that didn’t break his nose or anything.  He smiled, a big smile showing his crooked teeth that I had never seen before.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Apple’s next great products: iPillow, iPet and iTap

iPillow: Soft, comfy and silky.  It plays Lullaby to put you to sleep or “white noise” to shield you from the outside world.  It is a book, a TV or simply a pillow.  “iPillow”, you can’t sleep without it.

iPet: Cute, lively and furry.  It is cuddly when you want it to.  It will bark at the intruders with the push of a button.  It sheds no fur and doesn’t chew your furniture like a beaver.  “iPet”, the ultimate life-long friend you need.

iTap: It makes tapping sound when you tap your shoes.  It plays music when you tap.  It flashes neon light when you tap.  It even charges your phone when you are tapping.  “iTap”, it brings color and sound to your life.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Elon Musk Creates Our Future

Elon Musk, the current most revered inventor, a visionary who extends his talent from electric car, solar power to space travel, a dreamer who convinced us that the hyperloop could be a reality and a true innovator who gets his ideas during morning showers.  He runs three companies, serves as CEO for two and chairman for one.  Yet he still has time to tweet.  He posts for magazine covers like a true hero.  With his charisma and super brain, he is one of the most exciting inventors of our time.  I truly admire him.

I married an inventor once before, Dr. Arnold Lande, son of a famous Germany physicist Alfred Lande.  A trained heart surgeon and a talented medical device inventor, Arnie has invented the first commercial produced membrane oxygenator with the founder of Medtronic, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei.  He puts himself to sleep by inventing a upside-down catamaran.  His invention includes an wearable artificial kidney, an artificial lung, a diving gill and a frozen yogurt machine.  The following is a story about my exciting life with Dr. Arnold Lande.

            Lolita II: A Chinese Student's Story

            Call me Lolita if you want, although I am not fourteen.  Sometimes I hold his neck, whispering into his ears sweetly, "Manny, you are so cute."  Sometimes, at the end of our daily running, when he mercilessly passes me by, I will say angrily, "Yuck".  Manny and I run along the Mississippi every morning and evening, in the rain, after the snow, under the sun and in the wind.  We have left so many pairs of invisible footprints that even the road begins breathing the same rhythm.  Only in the winter, our two pairs of foot prints are visible on the snow.  His is the one with toes slightly pointing inward; mine is the one with toes slightly pointing outward.  Now these two pairs of feet diverge and are no longer next to each other.  They go off to the different directions and will never come together again.
            I have to see him again, my husband, Manny, whom I just separated from a month ago.  I have been very slow on moving.  It has been almost two months since I moved out.  I have not yet finished the moving.  I am a little scared of seeing him.  Scary may not be an exact word.  But it is close.  Nowadays, whenever I think of being with him alone in his office at the quiet quarter of Doctor's sleeping rooms, I always imagine him hitting me on the head or jabbing me with a knife.  That is how much I think he will hate me for leaving him, for ending our five years of wonderful marriage (he would say so).
            I have to see him now.  I want to show him I am determined and will not change my mind.  It did happen once when we were dating.  I went away and came back.  That was almost six years ago.

            I was a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Program at the University of Houston then.  I came to the United States in a way like most other Chinese students did --- going to the graduate school.  I met Manny in the Cardiovascular Fluid Dynamics Laboratory where I worked as a research assistant.  Manny was trying to do a joint research project with my boss.  It turned out the project did not work and Manny got a girlfriend in compensation.  He started the relationship by teaching me how to drive.  By the time I got the driver license, we had also gone to the movie theaters, concerts, ballets and sailing trips.  I had a wonderful time.  Then one day, I suddenly disappeared (in his words).  I left him for a handsome young Chinese student.  Actually he happened to be my roommate in a same house.  He dated me out of convenience (I did not know at the time).  He was so possessive that he did not even let me answer Manny's phone call.
            On a Saturday afternoon, I ran into Manny in my lab.  That was not exactly the case.  Since he no longer collaborated with my boss, he was not there by chance.  He went to see me there.  Although I was the only one in the lab at the time, his sudden appearance did not scare me.  At age fifty-four, he had a youthful, pleasant look, even with his salt-pepper hair.  He wore jeans, a red button-down cotton shirt and a pair of new-balance running shoes.  His slender, medium-sized body looked fit and healthy.  His eyes were twinkling.
            "Bonnie, how are you?"
            "I'm...I'm fine."  I stuttered.  I was not good at patching up misconduct.  I did not know how to explain my disappearance.  For a girl from China, going out with men was something new.
            "Have I hurt you?"  He asked earnestly.
            "So why do you leave me?"
            "You...you are too old."  I finally uttered the real reason.
            "Okay, I hope I did not hurt you."  He patted me on the shoulder, winked at me and left swiftly.
            After I broke up with my handsome roommate, I made a point calling him, although without any serious intention in mind.
            He recognized my voice right away.  "Bonnie, it's so nice to hear from you."  He sounded so sweet that I decided to try again with him.
            On my birthday, he took me out to a nice seafood restaurant along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  We had fresh oysters and shrimp.  Then we went back to his house and swam in his swimming pool.
            After we both dried ourselves with towels, he suddenly held me tightly against his naked chest, nothing sexual though.  
            "Bonnie, I don't want to loss you again."  He said.  Although he did not cry, I could sense the deep emotion hidden behind his bony, tan chest.
            These words were like religion, the gospel of my life.  I obeyed.  We got married a year later.
            Now six years after that incident, I cannot think of any reason why it should happen again.  Things change, situations change, I tell myself.

            He has taken away my car, yet I feel the most free, even though I have to go to work by bus every day.  Today I am driving my boyfriend's car, I feel very restrained.  I am going to see these people, people I use to see everyday in the hospital, the nurses, volunteers, janitors and cafeteria workers.  They are used to see us, an odd couple, and everyday, coming to work together and having lunch together.

To be continued in my book:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paperback for "Last Kiss In Tiananmen Square" is ON SALE in Amazon for $10.79

"Last Kiss In Tiananmen Square", a love story between a Peking University student and her mother's formal lover set in the midst of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre is selling like hot cakes.  It has been reduced to $10.79 per copy by Amazon due ot its popularity.  See the following excerpt.


A soldier jumped off a truck next to the tank, carrying a pack of rope-like things.

As a short stout man, he approached her slowly as though he was afraid of her. When he was two feet away from her, he released the black rope in his hands. It was a two-meter long black leather whip.

The whip was like a snake dancing in the air and hit Wu Zheng's body. She did not move and did not even look at her torturer. Instead, she ran towards him.

"Give me back my husband!" Wu Zheng cried like a wild animal.

The whipping continued. Her white blouse was broken into shreds and was full of bloodstains. Then she caught the whip in her hand. She started pulling at it. With God's power in her hands, she got the whip away from the soldier and started whipping him.

While this was happening, Pumpkin struggled in her husband's embrace. "Let me go! Let me save her!"
"Are you crazy? You are going to be killed. I'm not going to let you go!" His face touched her face, and their tears mixed. This was the most intimate act they had ever shared.

Wu Zheng tightened the whip around the soldier's neck and began strangling him.

Cheers came from the crowd. "Kill him! Kill the bastard!"

The tank started rolling and crushed them both.

The angry people moved over towards the tank.

They threw fire torches and gasoline; the tank caught fire. It blazed in the dark and moonless night.
Everyone cheered as if they were the ghosts in Dante's inferno as the two soldiers were forced out of the tank.

The soldiers stumbled towards the angry people. As soon as they were away from the blazing tank, they were in the hands of the mob.

They beat them with sticks and metal bars. They spit on them. "Shall we kill them?"

"Of course. Why do you speak for the enemy?"

"They are not our enemies. They don't even know what they are doing."

"What do you mean? They have already killed innocent people. They are criminals." A middle-aged man went over, pulling at the collar of a young man as though he wanted to start a fight.

The soldiers disappeared in the crowd as their bodies were torn to pieces, and they quickly disintegrated through hundreds of angry hands.

Red-eyed people threw body parts back at the burning tank.

They held up their hands in a 'V' sign, until a spray of bullets from another vehicle gunned some of them down.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jeremy Lin Got to Realize His Dream While My Dad Wouldn’t Allow Mine

When I was 14 years old, I was 5”6’ tall.  A basketball scout came to knock on my apartment door in the campus of the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics and Astronomy.  The scout said I should go to a Basketball training center.  My dad told him that we were not interested.  I, who had never played basketball before, didn’t know what to say.  All I remember was that my dad told me I should spend my time studying and playing violin.  Playing a sport was a waste of time. 

In China, people don’t believe someone could be good at both sports and academics.  They consider athletes to be dumb and stupid.   So my dad took away my one chance to utilize my tall body in a promising way.  Now after so many years, I wish that my dad had let me play basketball.  I think it is far-fetched that I would become a basketball star but at least I would have learned how to become a team player, a trait which I have acquired recently in my middle age.  I have become a sports nut in my own way, but my favorite sports are running, swimming, bicycling, skiing and skating, all of which are individual sports. 

So Jeremy Lin, the Knicks new star, an Asian American NBA basketball player was lucky to be born in the US.  If he were born in China, he would probably be forced to play piano or violin.  If he were “lucky” and discovered as a potential basketball star at a young age, he would most likely be sent to a basketball training camp far away and not allowed to see his family often.  So a normal family in China doesn’t usually let their kids pursue such a career at a young age unless they were orphans.  So my dad was being selfish for not letting me go to the basketball-training center. 

I happen to have a son who is 16 years old, 6”3’ tall and an aspiring basketball player. So Jeremy Lin intrigues me even though I don’t watch basketball games.  My knowledge about basketball has been gained from watching my son playing at middle school and high school games.  I normally don’t have time to watch games due to my duties as a working mother.  .  My interests fit into a stereotype Asian’s tastes.  I like classic music, theatre and movies.  If I have time, I often choose to go to these activities.  Sports are not something I would watch unless my son is playing.  As though fate is working against me, my son who has been taking piano lessons since he was 7, is very talented in sports.  The sport we encourage him to do is fencing, which we think it is not a very popular sport, so he has a chance to get ahead.  He also plays baseball with his friends in the summer and became the pitcher of his team for a couple of seasons.  As for basketball, he always shies away from it.  He was a scorekeeper for his Quaker School team for two years before he decided to try playing in middle school.  Then he flourished.  He quickly became one of the best players on his team.  At the same time, his body is telling him that he should be a basketball player because he was 6 feet tall in eighth grade and has kept growing to 6”2 in his freshman year in high school and 6”3 now in his sophomore year.  He even made it onto the better freshmen basketball team in his high school, whose man’s basketball team is among the top 5 in the state.  That was quite a challenge because he was playing with basketball players whose first words were “Basketball”.  Compared with them, his two years of playing is just not enough.  He was benched a lot but has also learned a lot.  This year, he didn’t even make the JV team of his high school.  He felt a little discouraged yet he went to play in a recreation league even after he promised to go back to fencing.  I know in his heart, he still loves basketball.  So let it be.  I’m not going to force him to do things he doesn’t like.  

Books by Fantasy Island Book Publishing

Terps by Elaine Gannon
After Ilium by S. M. Swartz
Children Of The Elementi by Ceri Clark
Emeline and the Muntant by Rachel Tsoumbakos
Miranda Warning by Marilyn Rucker Norrod
Brother, Betrayed by Danielle Raver
Ednor Scardens by Kathleen Barker
Land Of Nod, The Artifact by Gary Hoover
Losing Beauty by Johanna Garth
The King Of Egypt by  J. J. Makins
The Last Good Knight by Connie J. Jasperson
The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca
Black Numbers by Dean Frank Lappi
Beloved by Patty Sarro
The Last Guardian by Joan Hazel
Sand by Lili Tufel
Sin by Shaun Allan
Sakuri by Jacob Henzel

Enchanted Heart by Brianna Lee McKenzie
Silent No More by Krista K. Hatch
Sons of Roland: Back Story by Nicole Antonia Carson
City of Champions by Daniel Stanton