So how should I know the way to feed a dragon? Globalization, schmobalization. The world ain't that flat.

I mean, they give me a small envelope when I walk in. It's the Chinese New Year. There are guys in a dragon getup dancing around to the banging of drums and gongs.

I do the math:

A (envelope) plus B (show) equals C (put money in envelope and give to dragon).

But as I reach out to put the envelope in the dancing dragon's mouth, the dragon dips away. I figure that it's part of the show. So I kind of wave the small red envelope around, like a matador would a cape at a bull.

But rather than charge the envelope, as a bull would a cape, the dragon dances away. He and another dragon start dancing around some other table. The people at that table don't offer envelopes.

I do the math again:

A (non-envelope-giving patrons) plus B (hard-working dragon) equals C (restaurant-goers too cheap to give a hard-working dragon a couple of bucks).

I sit with friends and family as we finish our dinner of Singapore noodles, salt-and-pepper anchovies, fried rice, twice-cooked pork, fried dumplings, and spicy green beans. The proprietor comes to our table. He leans over and says something in my ear. I can't understand him because it's hard to make out what he is saying through his heavily accented English, and because the drums and gongs are drowning him out. I turn my head and look up at him. He's smiling.