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Border Patrol

I sit next to an interesting Chinese lady at work. I don’t really have an interesting nickname for her, so I will just call her Doris.

I noticed after a few days that she’s very particular about her desk space. If I have papers that just happen to be protruding past the boundaries of my desk and into hers, she will make a big production of pushing the papers back into my territory. Now, I like to be considerate of people’s space and all, but I also have a terrible competitive streak, and the way she made such a big deal out of pushing my papers back…well, it was almost like I was being challenged. I made sure that, whenever she was away from her desk, I’d push just a few millimeters of my stuff onto her side.

What was it that Commissioner Gordon warned Batman about in Batman Begins? You always have to worry about escalation, or something like that? How true he was. Soon enough, Doris wasn’t content with just pushing my papers back onto my side – she now started to push some of her papers onto my side as well. I also noticed that whenever I left my desk, just a few millimeters of her things would be crossing into my space. Although sometimes she did it all shinobi like, more often than not she was pretty brazen about it.

Doris: *points to the border, then specifically shows me her pushing her things across my side*
Me: …Oh shit, it’s a Chinese Invasion.
Doris: Invasion?
Me: Yep. The Chinese are finally invading America it seems.
Doris: …That’s right. You self-righteous Americans have interfered with Chinese Imperialism for the last time.
Me: I’d better call the embassy then.
Doris: They won’t be of much help. Haven’t you noticed your surroundings? You’re stuck between the Chinese/Japanese border. And Hong Kong is no longer under British rule. You’re completely on your own here. (She’s referring to the fact that on our “island” of desks, there another Chinese lady, Doris, Me, then I sit in front of a Japanese lady, and then next to her is another Chinese lady from Hong Kong.)
Me: Then, why do you want this American territory? Don’t you have enough land mass as is?
Doris: I dunno if you’ve noticed, but China is currently ONE BILLION strong, and they can’t all sleep on the floor. Isn’t America just cows and farmland anyway? For every space one cow occupies we can fit 3 generations of a whole Chinese family in there.
Me: And where will the cows go?
Doris: You don’t need anymore cows! Eat more rice.

With Doris Atkins making more bold moves into my territory everyday, it became clear that I was going to need an army, or at least a strong ally to defend my territory. But…who would rise to the occasion?

***

My girlfriend asked me a few weeks before her birthday what I was going to get her. I hate this question. You can’t actually be honest, because if you do the surprise is ruined. Not to mention, I actually had no idea what I was going to get her. She likes clothes (of course, she’s female), but I can barely walk into any of those trendy depaato (department stores) without wanting to gore myself with a butter knife and then hang myself with my own small intestines. Unfortunately, shopping is her primary and only hobby, so the gift ideas kind of run dry after that.

Faced with this question, I could only answer with something I’d been thinking about buying for myself. What does a young male in his mid-20’s want? Why, toys of course! Around this time, a new Megatron pose-able figure was scheduled to be released, and quite honestly, I was thinking about it far more than possible gift ideas for the little woman. So, with no other options, I was perfectly honest…

Her: So, what are you gonna get me for my birthday?
Me: Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about it…
Her: Yeah?
Me: And I’ve decided on Megatron.
Her: …Megatron?
Me: Yeah, Megatron. From The Transformers.
Her: Wow. You are the worst boyfriend ever.
Me: Hey! What girl wouldn’t be impressed with Megatron? He’s the leader of the Decepticons!
Her: If you really gave me Megatron…we’d have to break up on the spot. My friends would ask me “Why did you break up with him?” All I’d have to say is “Because he gave me Megatron for my birthday!” and they would understand completely.
Me: They’re just jealous that their boyfriends don’t care about them enough to give them a gift that counts.
Her: …He’s not even one of the good guys!

Over the next few weeks, I continued to joke that I would give her Megatron for her birthday, and she continued to threaten to dump me on the spot. Well, her birthday rolled around, and rest assured ladies and gentlemen, I did actually buy her a proper present. I also bought Megatron. The toy was out, and I wanted it, so I picked it up. But on my way home, my sick sense of humor started to kick in again, as I thought – “Hey, why not actually give her Megatron? The look on her face will be priceless!”

So I went home, hid all my packages, and wrapped up Megatron rather nicely. I taped the birthday card to the package, and we were all set. On her birthday, I passed her the attractive present and the card. After reading the card, she began to open up the box. “I wonder what you got me?” She asks in excitement. I can barely contain myself.

Let me tell you – in all my years alive, I have never seen a more deeper and profound expression of human despair and hopelessness than I saw when she finally opened the package to discover Megatron.

My great joke only lasted about a minute though, I think she actually was going to get up and leave me right there on the spot. I brought out her real presents, and we both had a laugh over the Megatron Birthday. I displayed my new Megatron for a few weeks in my apartment, but soon I realized that he would look very attractive on my desk at work. After some internal debate over the issue (just how much of my geekiness do I want to expose to my coworkers?), I finally brought him in one day. It didn’t take long for everybody to notice him, Doris included.

Doris: Hey, what’s that?
Me: Oh, just a gift for my girlfriend’s birthday.
Doris: He certainly looks scary.
Me: Well, he is the leader of the Decepticons.
Doris: …Decepticons? What’s that?
Me: *a sudden flash of genius washes over me* …Border patrol.
Doris: Border patrol?
Me: Yep. *I re-position Megatron right at the edge of my desk*
Doris: …Oh shit.
Me: Sorry about your Chinese Imperialism, but I have defenses now.
Doris: Well, he is only one man. What can one man do? *she makes a move to push papers towards my side.*
Me: *I raise the fusion cannon up towards her side* He’s one man with a really big gun.
Doris: *Strategically retreating.* I can’t beat that, it’s too scary.
Me: And Chinese Imperialism is foiled yet again.
Doris: Typical Americans. You and your big guns.
Me: Hey, who said anything about big guns?
Doris: *pointing to Megatron* He’s got a freakin’ CANNON on his arm.
Me: Yeah, well…
Doris: And doesn’t he transform into a gun too?
Me: …How did you know that?
Doris: I kind of remember this…it was a TV show, right? We had it in China too.
Me: Oh, did you watch?
Doris: No. I just remember seeing a bad guy robot turn into a gun, and I thought “Wow, Americans sure do like guns!” 20 years later, and I’ve been proven right.
Me: Well, at least I’ve got my territory back.
Doris: You just wait until I build up my army. I’ll be back.

We no longer sit next to each other. But sometimes, if she comes to my desk for something, as she leaves she’ll grab Megaton really quick and pose him – have him bend over and moon me , put his hands up towards his pelvis as if he was urinating.

Me: Why you gotta play tricks like that?
Doris; For ruining Chinese Manifest Destiny.

I used to scold my students for goofing around in class, but as it turns out, adults aren’t that much different.

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