Just Across Town

Chinatown Twin Dragon Gateway.jpg

We decided to surprise the kids one Sunday afternoon; destination China Town.

It is a colorful urban setting in downtown Los Angeles, just a stone’s throw from the civic and cultural centers, and has been a major commercial area of Chinese and other Asian businesses since 1938. We ourselves, as kids, visited the area many times with our respective families.

It was time for ours to enjoy such an exciting excursion that was a short distance “just across town” from where we lived in north Whittier. As we approached China Town, we were also able to point out to them the landmark Union Station as well as the historic Olvera Street.

We were immediately greeted with the folklore of colorful architecture of arches and dragons and pagodas. A further walk down the street brought us to ponds of water with miniature village scenarios in the depths where you could toss a coin into the water while making a wish. You could walk further still to the various and unusual shops. What an array of rare and curious souvenirs we found to be available as we went from shop to shop.

It was then decided our late lunch would be at the then-very-popular General Lee’s Restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese bill-of-fare and pleasant atmosphere. The meal was topped off with the always tasty almond cookie and a fortune cookie for each of us.

Then came time for the “just across town” ride home. We were settled in with the three kids in the back seat. All of a sudden there was this stink, which was far beyond unpleasant. It was so strong and so pungent that you could hardly breathe. (Truthfully, I thought Ray was the cause as he did “this” regularly and it was always gross. But this stink far outstunk anything that ever came out of him).

It had Ray and I wondering where the stink had come from. Was there a sewer nearby? Were we travelling in “one of those” sections of town?

Not until we got home did we learn the truth of the matter. It turned out that Steve, the family prankster who loved nothing better than catching someone off guard with a practical joke, bought a small but very potent bottle of “STINK” from one of the stores we shopped in China Town. Every now and then on our ride home he would unscrew the top which released this unbelievable, OMG odor.

We put two and two together that Mark and Tracy were “in on it” as we recalled the snickering coming from the back seat whenever we commented on the stench.

Well, it’s true that the joke was on mom and dad, but I don’t recall ever taking them “just across town” again…with Steve along, it would have been risky business!

Sharon Benson Smith is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.