Yesterday afternoon while shopping for linens and bathroom accents I held up a soap dish and said, “Ten pounds for this? It’s a small fucking piece of metal.”

The other day at my local Waitrose supermarket I announced, “Do we really need more salad onions? And they’re scallions. Salad onions.”

I talk to myself when I’m alone. It’s a bad habit I developed when we were living in Tokyo. I’m not sure how it developed, I only know that is was soothing and reassuring to hear the sound of someone speaking English, even if that someone was me.

Tokyo was all neon signs, moving billboards, bicycle rings, happy commercial jingles and background chatter. That relentless background chatter. Even with the Japanese I learned, I couldn’t process it. It was a sea of murmuring that threatened to overcome me as I shopped for tofu.

This bad habit was like having a wing man back in Japan, a friend. It was a sarcastic traveling companion, the honest inner voice, my sassy sidekick. The token gay male friend for white women, or straight black woman for gay men. “Girl you know you know nothin’ about cookin’ them Japanese mushrooms. Martha Stewart you ain’t. Best put them back”.

I did as the voice instructed but eventually learned how to prepare maitake mushrooms.

My bad habit died down a bit in Hong Kong. If I were in a large expat supermarket or upscale international shopping center, my sassy friend usually kept quiet. But if I ventured outside central Hong Kong, especially into Kowloon and the New Territories, Sassy would return.

“Where the hell is this bus going?”

“Where the fuck am I?”

“Oh my God I need a drink”.

“Do we need more tomatoes. I should get more tomatoes”.

“HA! It’s Captain Crunch!”

Now that we’re in London, it’s time for Sassy to go home. She’ll be there in my head of course, but it’s time for her to shut her mouth.

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