I look down and suddenly feel very American. It's the white underwear and the loose, broken jeans, and the dark blue t-shirt. The socks are crew, and pink-toed. You don't get much more homegrown than that.

"Does he heel much?"

"No, not too."

The only thing that could make this better would be a white t-shirt and another long-sleeved denim shirt, unbuttoned, untucked. And a white hair tie, if my hair were long enough.

"How's the noise?"

"He's fully quiet."

I could eat a peanut-butter sandwich and drink a glass of lemonade. We could build a porch onto the house and paint everything white, and we could have a porch swing. I could sit there in my cotton with my lunch and be very happily American.

"And the smell?"

"He is what he is."

You could take off your sunglasses and sit with me. You could go inside and put on a white t-shirt and some dark chinos. With your shoes off, you could prop your feet up on the railing of the porch and take sips of my lemonade when I turned away.

"Does he bite much?"

"We had to take his teeth out."

We could sit together in the shade on the swing and muse about the future. Neighbors would walk by, and we'd wave at them. They would remark on our rose bushes which we'd have just planted. We'd thank them and tell them about our very American yard sale on the following Saturday.

"Would you take three dollars for him?"

"If I have to."

On Sundays, we could go to church with our neighbors. We could dress in pretty clothes, and afterwards have a picnic. I could pack peanut-butter sandwiches and lemonade, and we could eat somewhere on the common, which will be near our house.

"Do you think I ripped you off?"

"Mister, I'd have sold for one."

Doesn't that sound nice, Li Bai?