Talent Show
by Jianqing Zheng

Waiting in the university cafeteria while my son is at orientation, I pick up a magazine from a table and open casually to a page—a sultry woman in strips with brown hair on her bare shoulders. A paragraph beside her says when she was three she could stand on top of the furniture with a “microphone” and sang at the top of her lungs.

A year ago, BB King visited our campus. Before he started playing with a few guitar boys, he said in a colorful blues voice, “When these kids become grandfathers they’ll tell their grandchildren they used to play with BB King.” Then he sang at the top of his lungs,
“No one loves me; no one seems to care.”

Last night on MSNBC, a reporter asked a class of elementary kids in China what they wanted to be when they grew up. When almost all of them answered they wanted to be doctors, engineers and dentists, a boy blurted out with a shy smile, “I want to be a pizza man.”

My son returns from orientation, saying he has changed his major from Aerospace to International Business. I stand up, a little upset. We walk silently to the car. Overhead, a burning summer sun.

young parents smile
in tears


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