Chapter Fourteen

Her Last Chance

Shampoo pressed her lips onto the thick pole and sucked the tapioca drink dry. She thoughtfully rolled two balls in her mouth, feeling the sliminess sway in her tongue. The aftertaste of warm strawberry tea still swimming in her head. She checked her purse. Okay I have some money to get some more. She forked over another $5 at Lollicup for another tantalyzing tapioca drink. This time, it would be coffee. The clunky sounds of Dance Dance Revolution echoed in the artificiality of tapioca shop. The overbearing bright hues of screaming yellow, red and orange. To her side, a music video featuring Jay Chow echoed in her head.

Shampoo twirled her hair a little bit and tapped her fingers on the top of tapioca cover. She was very impatient. Finally Ben showed up. A young Asian man with spiked yellow hair and a coy smile. He was wearing extremely baggy clothing, which hid his really frail and skinny body underneath. " I'm sorry I'm late," the young man replied.

"Oh, as usual," Shampoo snapped back quietly.

"Did you get something?" Ben asked.

"Yeah," Shampoo replied. "Two tapioca drinks."

"That's why I love you," Ben pecked her on the cheek. "You're so predictable."

As soon as they finished their tapioca drinks, Shampoo and Ben held hands and started walking down the sidewalk. The trees at Berkeley were turning a bright orange hue. “Ben?” Shampoo asked and then said the four words that can give any straight guy a heart attack. “Where are we going?”

“Well,” Ben said nervously. “I guess we can go get some dinner at that Thai place and I bet Minh probably has a mahjong game tonight.”

“No,” Shampoo replied and grabbed Ben to the side. “I mean, where are we going? As in you and me?”

Shampoo turned away and looked at the cars rapidly zoom pass her. Ben quickly fumbled for a line. One of those flattering lines that would make a girl swoon and forget about everything that she was worried about regarding him. “I think you’re really hot, Shampy,” Ben replied. “Ever since I first met you in Mandarin class. You were the one who helped tutor me, remember?”

Shampoo felt like she was dragging chains with her. She did tutor him. And he did comfort her when she cried every single night when she got home. Her tears for her shame in losing Ranma and dishonoring the tradition of strong-willed women warriors that were her past. For two years, he was her refuge, her best friend, and her translator..and now her lover. But she couldn’t let him cling onto something he could never have.

During the first year of their relationship, her heart was still with Ranma (and her lack of speaking English). As she learned English and spent more time with her new “hao nan peng you,”* her heart no longer belonged to Ranma. But it didn’t belong to him either. He didn’t make her heart beat race. Instead, her heart lingered in a mist of nothingness, floating on airy hopelessness and cynicism. But the fact that she could land a long-term boyfriend made her the envy of KAO. Especially May Yim, the Christian who was also secretly very promiscuous and couldn’t hold onto a boyfriend, lest a decent lipstick color.

“I actually can’t hang out tonight, sweetie,” Shampoo smiled and finally said. “Tonight is my Women’s Self-Defense class.”

“Well, that’s not going to take long,” Ben said hopefully. “Promise me you’ll call when you’re done.” Shampoo walked to her car and unlocked the door, pondering at the queerness of Ben's responses to her actions. She wished for a moment that she liked guys. It would have been so much easier.

Shampoo tied her gi, the black leather belt felt smooth along her curvy waist. Her palms were sweating very much. She felt lost and uneasy. She looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath. She was surprised by the overwhelming popularity of her class. Womyn just flowed through the doors. Asian girls. Black girls. Latino girls. White girls. All beautiful in their own different forms.

And there she was.

“I hope I don’t look way too, um, underdressed,” Jane said. She was wearing a black sports bra and black jogging pants. Without all the club lights flickering all over her body, Jane was...pretty cute. Shampoo took a quick glance at Jane but quickly turned away.

“Oh, you’re fine,” Shampoo replied and turned away blushing red.

"So, let's suppose the person is trying to attack you from behind," Shampoo stated. “I need a volunteer.” Jane, looked around at the other girls who remained silent and still. “Oh brother,” she muttered as she raised her hand. Shampoo smiled a little.

"Please put your hands around my waist," Jane nervously grabbed Shampoo's thin, strong waist. She could feel the soft skin underneath the rough linen of the karate gi. "First, make sure you step on their front foot, like so. Make sure you have your hand on their right arm. Use your position to turn around, raise their arm and then you can either kick them in the private area or if you are strong enough, you can flip them over by using the right arm as a lever." And Shampoo demonstrated all those moves on Jane, who was now on the ground writhing within seconds.

"Now how was that like?" Shampoo looked down at Jane with her cute purple eyes open wide.

"Um, ow?" Jane replied.

"I'm sorry," Shampoo smiled. "Did that hurt as much?"

Two other girls who were practicing on each other. Shampoo found herself falling on top of Jane. Her long purple hair blanketed the floor. Soon, she found herself staring eye to eye once again with Jane. Shampoo could feel her heart racing.

"Um, I've gotta go help those two," Shampoo said nervously. "It looks like they're flipping the wrong person."

"Yeah," Jane replied. "You're usually not supposed to flip yourself." She and Shampoo shared a nervous laugh. Then, Shampoo walked away through the waves of girls as Jane got back up to her feet.

What a woman.

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