There were two brothers, Nyun and Tun,* who I was particularly tight with. Tun aspired to be a musician, earnestly singing Vietnamese pop ballads as he worked, and chatting with me about his favorite songs (although I must confess that I barely understood a word he said).** Nyun was incredibly tender (not the least bit raunchy).*** He was determined to improve his English and would regularly quiz me on various English idioms.
One night, after dealing with a particularly unpleasant customer, I tossed out the old Fat Albert-ism, "man, they're like school on a Saturday... no class." Nyun immediately latched on to it, asked me to explain, and adopted it as a personal catch phrase. From then on, when I would walk into the kitchen, he would say the first part: "David, David - like school on a Saturday..." Then we would say the second part in slow, hyper-articulated unison: "noooo claaassss". We would both bust a gut. I hope he still uses it.
They lived in New Orleans East. I wonder where they are now.
* Sorry, these spellings are grossly phonetic. I did learn how to write their names, but time and unfamiliarity have wiped the slate clean.
** Miscellaneous details about Tun that I can't quite fit into the flow of the story:
- I gave him a guitar lesson.
- In exchange for the lesson, he brought me a really good Vietnamese po-boy (yes, they exist).
- He once sat in with local garage rock heroes (and co-workers), the Royal Pendletons, and sang "Donna".
- He eventually left the restaurant to work in his cousin's jewelry store.
- He had a wife in Vietnam who he had not seen in a very long time.
- He hoped to bring her to the U.S. someday.