A Secret Conversation Between a Pair of Chopsticks and a Fork

A Diners’ Parable in Three Acts

INT. VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT, PALO ALTO, CA — NIGHT
Under bright fluorescent lights, the dinner time customers have packed this Vietnamese restaurant, loud and very family-friendly. Young Asian families with kids absorbed by their iPads, twenty- and thirty-something couples and small groups eating and chatting at crowded tables full of delicious colours and fragrant aromas. At the quieter end of the restaurant near the back where the restrooms are, we find JACK HARRIS (28, white, tech professional) and DIANE WONG (27, Asian, tech professional) at their table looking at the menus underneath the glass tabletop. This is their second date. WAITER HOANG (49, Asian) drops off a jug of ice water and two empty plastic glasses. Diane grabs a pair of CHOPSTICKS and Jack notices that there are no forks. A split-second before he asks for one, the Waiter pulls out a FORK from his apron and sets it down in front of Jack and leaves.

CHOPSTICKS
I hate you.

FORK
WTF! Where did that come from?

CHOPSTICKS
You get away with it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!
It’s SO unfair! I hate you!!!

FORK
It’s not like I asked to be here! I was happy tucked in Mr. Hoang’s apron. I like it there. It’s warm and I like the feeling of moving around like I can fly. You should try it. Well, ah, I mean…

Fork stopped himself before getting tongue-tied when he noticed Chopsticks staring at the other 30 pairs of matching chopsticks TIGHTLY PACKED in a standard-issue Viet restaurant convenience container next to the Sriracha hot sauce, paper napkins and stack of plastic spoons at the end of the table.

FORK (embarrassed)
Ah sorry. What I mean is that it would be great IF you could do that.

CHOPSTICKS
Yeah. Whatever.
Listen. If me AND my sisters wanted to walk out of this place, don’t you think we would have done that by now? We went to college you know! Our parents made sure of that! It’s just that it doesn’t seem right…

to have a fork here.

FORK (a bit hurt but tongue-in-cheek, trying to cheer her up)
What are ya, utensist?

CHOPSTICKS
Ah f — k off! You KNOW what I mean. This is a Vietnamese restaurant. What’s a fork doing here?

FORK
Don’t know. Diversity hiring I guess?
Hey, why don’t you give me a break for once and give this guy a chance? Maybe he has a good reason for me? Let’s see what they order.

The Waiter returns with his small pad of paper and a greasy ballpoint pen.

DIANE (still looking down at the menu)
I’ll have a small №6 and a Vietnamese coffee, please.

WAITER (annoyed)
Hot or with ice?

DIANE (looking at Waiter)
Um, with ice.

The Waiter turns to Jack. Impatient as he notices the two tables that the busser hasn’t cleaned up and the line-up getting longer by the minute at the entrance.

JACK (looking at Diane)
Ah, I’ll have №6 too! But make it large. And a spring roll.
Thanks, that’s it.

The waiter leaves without saying a word.

FORK
SEE! What did I tell ya! He ordered SPRING ROLLS! Ha, that’s my boy-O! He definitely needs a fork for that!

CHOPSTICKS (not impressed)
Ya but, №6!!!

FORK
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that. Maybe he’s trying to impress the girl?

CHOPSTICKS
Rare steak and beef ball noodles! With a fork, REALLY?

Image by vinden from Pixabay

INT. VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT— MOMENTS LATER
The Waiter returns with the iced Vietnamese coffee and puts it down on the table just out of Diane’s reach. Diane shuffles over and opens the coffee lid, still too hot to touch, with the tip of one of her chopsticks. With the other chopstick, she gives the coffee grinds a stir to hurry up the drip, drip of the coffee.

FORK (nonchalant)
That’s no big deal. I can do that.

Tired of waiting, Diane pours the ENTIRE coffee and sweet condensed milk into the tall glass of ice. Then she straddles BOTH of her chopsticks across the top of the glass and gently balances the stainless steel coffee dripper ON TOP of both chopsticks so it can continue to drip straight over the ice!

FORK (impressed)
Whoa!

Editor’s note: Given the opportunity, chopsticks love to show off. That’s how they are built.

The Waiter is back with two bowls of noodles, deliciously hot, and the spring rolls on a serving platter. He sets them all down with practised efficiency at the far edge of the table closest to him and puts the bowls just randomly on the table without spilling a drop of soup. The spring rolls, he puts in front of Diane.

WAITER (short)
Is that everything?

JACK (looking at Diane a bit annoyed)
Ah, yeah. I think so.
Do you need anything else?

DIANE
Where’s the basil, lime and bean sprouts? We haven’t got those yet.

WAITER (slightly embarrassed)
Ah yes! It’s coming! I’ll go check right now.

He turns to leave again. Casually leaving the bill on the table as he walks away.

INT. VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT — CONTINUOUS
Jack can’t wait and starts to tuck in. He takes his fork and plunges it into the hot soup noodles and the red, raw slices of flank steak.

FORK
WOO-HOO! I’m going in!

Fork dives deep into the soup and does a double twist!

CHOPSTICKS (concerned)
Hey Fork! Hang in there! YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Jack pulls the Fork out with a fistful of noodles twirled around it.

Diane shakes her head and just smiles.

Jack takes a small bite of his HUGE bundle of noodles and burns his lips!

JACK
OWWW! That’s h-h-hot!

The Waiter is back with the basil, limes and bean sprouts. He looks at Jack. So not impressed. He turns and leaves.

Diane grabs a pair of chopsticks from the convenience container and offers them to Jack.

DIANE
Do you want to give these try? I can teach you.

CHOPSTICKS
NOOOOOO! That’s my sister WANDA!

Jack puts his fork of noodles back into the bowl and reaches for the chopsticks.

FORK
Ah, COME ON JACK! REALLY? Just like that you’re gonna cave?

Jack mangles WANDA chopsticks with his fingers.

WANDA
Ah, my back! Watch it ASSHOLE!

CHOPSTICKS (at Fork)
DO SOMETHING!!! He’s gonna break her!

FORK (muffled, still deep in the bowl of noodles)
Mm-what kin I d-do? I’ve got m-my omm problems ‘ere!

Diane reaches out and gently holds onto Jack’s chopsticks hand with both of her small hands. It’s the first time they’ve touched! Diane blushes slightly. Jack likes this!

She corrects the chopsticks’ position on Jack’s fingers. Then she picks up her Chopsticks and shows him how to open and close.

DIANE
See like this. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. I’ve only been doing this all my life!

They share a laugh and look into each other’s eyes. There’s a connection.

INT. VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT — A BIT LATER
Our couple finished their noodles successfully! Diane does the universal Asian restaurant hand signal — invisible pen drawing motion in the air — to let the Waiter know that they want the check.

He points to their table.

Oh yeah. The bill is already there.

WAITER
How do you want to pay?

JACK
Do you take Apple Pay?

Diane is embarrassed. NO WAY this place would take Apple Pay!

WAITER
Yes.

Jack pulls out his iPhone and immediately notices a glitch. His iPhone screen is frozen!

JACK
Ah crap! I’ve been having this problem since the last update. I just need to do a hard reset.

(at the Waiter)
Can you give me a minute? I just need to fix this and I can pay you.

The Waiter is so not impressed. He turns around shaking his head and walks away.

CHOPSTICKS
Aww too bad. I thought this date was going pretty well. He managed to use my sister Wanda chopsticks to finish his dinner. Now, THIS! How embarrassing!

FORK (cleaned up)
Yeah, look at him. And look at HER!

Diane is reaching for her purse.

JACK
No, this my treat! I’ve got this. I just need a small pointy thing to open the SIM card slot.

AHA! He picks up his fork and slightly pulls up one of the tongues.

FORK
Hey! Watch it, buddy!

Then Jack inserts the pointy end of the fork into the tiny hole on the side of this iPhone.

VOILA! The iPhone resets!

FORK (so pumped!)
Ha! SEE! I’ve got moves too! I bet you couldn’t do that! Can ya?

CHOPSTICKS (mildly impressed)
Have you met my little sisters?

The Waiter comes back with a small tray of mints and a tiny pile of toothpicks.

I work in film and write, but not necessarily at the same time. Words in An Injustice! and Slackjaw.

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