The restroom in the restaurant we stopped at in Little Saigon had everything you might need, including fresh roses and false eyelashes. I took a photo to show my husband. The multipack of false eyelashes hanging in a clear bag on the wall reminded him that a Vietnamese phrase for flirting is đá lông nheo or kicking with your eyelashes. Đá is the verb for a kick you’d use in fighting, so when my husband was growing up the kids thought of it as an “eyelash fight.”
Đá can be used for kicking someone, kicking a ball back and forth, or playing badminton. It’s also the word used for a cricket fight or a cockfight. In English, “batting your eyelashes,” sounds similarly combative, but bat is a variant of bate (to flutter), a term used in falconry to describe hawks beating their wings.
Eyelash fighting can be batting your eyelids across the room or fluttering your lashes on someone’s skin. Traditionally, Vietnamese don’t kiss on the mouth, they give a nose kiss inhaling along your cheek. When you kiss someone with your nose, your eyelashes can get close enough to theirs to “fight.”
If you got into an eyelash fight and got “knocked out” by the competition’s extra-long lashes or a collision with your date, this well-stocked bathroom in Little Saigon would have everything you need, including replacements.