This afternoon I want something spicy for lunch so I go to a bright little joint called "Cha for Tea". They serve all kinds of exotic teas with "boba" or gelatin pearls, curried chicken and noodle dishes of every variety. I order and luckily find a seat in the green and yellow shop packed with students from CSU Long Beach across the street.
I scan the crowd and listen to my neighbors hoping to catch something interesting, but the restaurant plays music videos on a wall-mounted flat screen and it's hard to hear anything else. Loud guffaws draw my attention to three young Asian boys in a corner booth. All wear caps, two have positioned the bills to the side and the other sports his backwards. Two wear sports jerseys, the other a white t-shirt that hangs to his knees. All three wear long silver chains with links an inch or two wide and enormous medallions. They hold their chains out with two hands and slide their medallions back and forth. One has a design shaved into his short black hair, partially visible under the edge of the cap.
The boys are jumpy and now slap their hands on the table in tune to a cell phone or other device that plays a hip hop song on speaker. Slap.....slap, slap! Slap....slap, slap! A few patrons shoot over-the-shoulder glances at them. They laugh louder. Slap....slap, SLAP! The young couple in the booth next to them begins packing up laptops. One of the cashiers now looks tentatively at the boys and bites her thumb nail. They explode in exaggerated laughter again.
The bell on the door handle jingles faintly under the din. Four young Asian girls enter. Two wear short plaid skirts, long socks and tight sweaters. The others wear jeans and puffy jackets. One walks on black boots with stiletto heels. Their hair is long, shiny black. Black boots wears stylish red prescription glasses and carries a Mac laptop.
The couple next to the boys has packed up and exits their booth. The girls walk over to take it. They pass the three boys who bounce wildly to their music, swing their medallions and look the girls over. The girl in the boots stops in front of them just for a second. "Haha HA!" she says and nudges her friend in the back. The girls sit down and whisper together. They laugh conspiratorially and Boots looks at the boys again. She shakes her head and opens the laptop.
The boys fall silent. Their hands cease slapping. The medallions fall back to their chests. The cell phone is turned off. About 15 minutes later, they leave. As they pass through the door, one turns his sideways cap forward.