By Wayne Chan
I went to an amazing Yappy hour last night.
No, that’s not a typo. I’m not being lazy with spell check. Last week, I went to Yappy hour.
Here in our neighborhood, every two weeks, a neighbor will volunteer to open up their backyard to the rest of the neighborhood. The hosts provide drinks, and everyone else brings an appetizer. It’s been going on for over ten years now.
When it first started, as I’ve been told, it started out with neighbors getting together with their young kids to let them play together and give the grown-ups an opportunity to catch up and share in the misery and/or joy of being parents to young children.
But those children have all grown up now, so now we all bring our dogs in place of the kids. Thus, you have, “Yappy Hour”. If, for some reason, a host can’t or prefers not to have dogs attend, then we call it “Yap-less” hour.
I’ve lived in six homes in my life, starting as a kid. Until I moved to our current neighborhood, I could count on one hand the number of neighbors that I knew or had any real interaction with – total. In today’s world, as busy as we all are, I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
That all changed with Yappy hour. I know the majority of my neighbors. Besides Yappy hour, we go out to dinner. We go skiing in the winter. We look out for each other. It’s probably the most pleasant and supportive “Neighborhood Watch” group that you could ever hope for.
When we first moved to the neighborhood, we went to our first few Yappy Hours. Not long after, I had to have a fairly minor surgery on my left eye. After I came home from the hospital to recover, I was amazed to fine that a few of our neighbors got together, and arranged to cook meals and deliver them to us so that we wouldn’t have to worry about getting dinner ready for the kids. It’s a memory I’ll never forget.
We should all be so lucky to have friends like that.
But Yappy Hours aren’t normally about crisis or drama. It’s usually a time to catch up with friends, blow off steam, and just have some fun with each other.
Case in point: The Story of Wayne’s Most Excellent Soup
At last week’s Yappy Hour, one of my neighbors, one of the most jovial men you’ll ever meet, came up to me to ask me a question. I’ll call him Jay.
Jay said, “Wayne, you remember a few years ago when you hosted a Yappy Hour? You made a soup that everyone loved! You remember that?”
“Yeah, I remember.”, I said.
Jay followed up with, “What was the name of that soup? I asked Maya (my wife) and she didn’t remember. I remember it was some Chinese soup you made, but it was absolutely out of this world. What was that soup?”.
I knew what Jay was asking about. I know that soup. I made that soup. In fact, I’ve made that soup every time we’ve hosted Yappy Hour at our house.
The problem is, I didn’t want to reveal where I got the soup recipe. Why not, you ask? Well, it’s not because I made up the recipe of this soup myself, or that it’s some huge secret.
It’s because Jay made such a big deal out of this soup that I didn’t want to make it a big letdown when I told him the truth of where this soup came from. But, I didn’t think quickly enough, and I just told him the truth.
“Jay”, I said, “The soup is called Zuppa Toscana, and I got the recipe from… The Olive Garden.”
“What?!?”, Jay exclaimed. “Don’t tell me that Wayne – I thought that was a recipe passed down from your Chinese ancestors or something! Don’t tell me you got it from the Olive Garden!!!”
I’m really sorry I burst Jay’s bubble. After giving it some thought, I’d like to revise my earlier answer on the origins of my famous soup. So Jay, here’s the real story. This is for you.
The Origin Story of Wayne’s Proprietary Magic Elixir Soup
A long, long time ago, as I was walking down a path towards China’s Yangtze River, I came across an old woman who was standing beside a large cow, drinking water from the river. The old woman looked distraught and I asked her what was wrong. She told me she had dropped the SIM card from her iPhone into the river and dug all around and couldn’t find it. I immediately looked down and saw the SIM card floating on a leaf, picked it up and handed it to her.
As a way of thanking me, she handed me a bottle of milk as well as an envelope with one bean inside it and said, “Thank you so much for your help. As a way of thanking you, this is the milk from my cow. This is a virgin cow (yes, a virgin cow) and the milk has special properties in it. The bean in the envelope is a bean from a mung bean and it’s the last of an ancestral bean from my family. Grow it in your yard and it will bring you good fortune for the rest of your days.”
So Jay – the Yappy Hour soup I make is made from the milk of a virgin cow from the Yangtze River and all the mung beans in it come from one single bean I’ve harvested In my backyard.
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