My Chinese-American husband and I live in Los Angeles. Since my husband is an excellent cook, we don’t go out that often. But when we do go out? There’s always a new Japanese, Indian, or farm-to-table restaurant to try. Andy’s up for anything, which is nice. Most of my white girlfriends won’t even consider sushi. And my friend JM will only go to one restaurant — the Corner Bakery.
When my in-laws visited, my husband and I cooked for them for weeks. Near the end of their visit, Sunny announced that they would take us out to dinner.
I cheered. “Yay! What kind of food would you guys like? A new bistro opened in the Village, or you could try our favorite sushiya in San Pedro.”
You know those big, dysfunctional but lovable white families you used to see in television and film? They were all about siblings being super shitty to each other. Yet when one member of the family was threatened, the family closed ranks and fended off the attacker.
I grew up in a huge, white, broken, dysfunctional family.
If I had known that buying a new house would inspire inspired a visit from Andy’s parents, I’d have barricaded myself into our old townhouse for life. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to keep them away if we ever had a son (hence my ongoing lobbying to adopt a little girl from China), but I had no idea a new house would be such a draw. Given my father-in-law’s obsession with photos of the house, I should have known what would happen.
Two weeks after our honeymoon, I made the mistake of answering the landline. (Yes, we had a landline. Yes, we didn’t pay for caller ID. Yes, my husband is sometimes a cheap bastard.) A gruff, low, male voice I didn’t recognize barked something about a son or a grandson.
I said, “Wrong number,” and hung up.
Ten seconds later, the phone rang again. I answered again.
The same voice muttered, “….my grandson?”
“Look, dude, there are no kids here, I’m not a kidnapper, and you have the wrong number!” I hung up.
In my white world, there are exactly two times when it is acceptable to ask how much something costs.
1) SALES. When a white person tells a friend about the great deal they got on apparel or automobiles, it is acceptable – no, mandatory – that the friend ask for both the original price and the sale price. Continue reading The Big Money Question (#10)
My first dinner with the family of my Chinese-American boyfriend was at a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. Andy’s mom Sunny chatted mainly about the chef, and how he was nice and fat. But once she got a glass of wine and our orders were taken, conversation lagged. Andy’s taciturn father Jay had forgotten the usually omnipresent video camera, but he still said nothing. I asked Andy’s brother Denny how he and Claire met. I asked Claire about her major (again). I told everyone how Andy and I met. I tried to fill the silence any way I could.