Today I met my boyfriend’s family. I also discovered I was unworthy of my college gradation honors.
What kind of history major doesn’t do research?
A stupid history major – or one in love. Wait. That’s redundant.
I’ve always enjoyed digging up historical details. I really enjoyed dating. Contrary to stereotypes involving timid bookworms with glasses, I never found the two mutually exclusive. Far from it. They made a nice package. The quickest way to head off a doomed relationship was research. I’m not talking stalking, or even cyber-stalking – social media hadn’t quite exploded when I was in high school. (Yes, I dated in high school. Yes, it was more than a decade ago. Read another blog if you want super trendy musings.)
So I learned to do my research on prospective dates the old-fashioned way: gossip. I’d chat with a guy and his friends. Then I’d chat with his old girlfriend and her friends. I soon learned how to interpret a guy’s comments on his ex:
He says: “We broke up because she was SO jealous.”
Translation: He’s a cheater.
He says: “I don’t know what happened, she went all psycho on me!”
Translation: Cuz he cheated.
He says: “I didn’t think we were all that serious and then she threw something at me.”
Translation: Cheater. (And the item thrown was usually a ring – promise ring, class ring, engagement ring…)
The current love-of-my-life-turned-my-brains-to-mush is Andy. Shockingly, the web browser of his dating life was blank. His friends had no “psycho ex-girlfriend” stories to share, no matter how many beers I bought them. No disgruntled women lurked in club bathrooms with horror stories.
Woody Allen and Bill Cosby would have labeled the only story I got as a “missed opportunity.” A blonde showed up repeatedly at the same clubs as Andy and his friends. She asked him to dance multiple times. Andy finally asked her out for coffee. Their only date lasted less than an hour, at which point Andy returned, face anguished. “She’s only seventeen!” His friends offered him tequila and commiseration.
Luckily, I met Andy before the blonde turned eighteen. I loved to dance. Andy had taken up dancing to meet women. He met me. We became friends. Then we became dance partners. He laughed at all my jokes during practice. We became best friends. Six months later, I dumped the guy I was dating, saw Andy shirtless in a hot tub (he works out!!), and kissed him. He kissed back, and we’ve been together ever since.
I’ll admit, it felt strange that there were no exes for him to talk about – not since his high school girlfriend back in Hawaii.
I put Andy’s lack of romantic history down to the fact that he’s a nice guy, a quiet guy, and Asian. I patted my brilliant self on the back. Other, less clever, more oblivious women never noticed him — not until they saw Andy spin, dip, and lift me on the dance floor. Not until they saw his face break into a gorgeous smile when he laughed at my jokes.
Women suddenly flocked around him. I attempted to be gracious when he was in high demand. Which was always. There are always more women around than men when there is dancing involved. Unless we hit a gay club. Then the guys queued up, complete with flattering melodrama: “I’ll die if I don’t get one dance with a leader like you!” Andy didn’t mind dancing with the gays, which made me love him more. (Then he said stuff like, “They’re a lot less likely to fight my lead than you are,” and I loved him a little less.)
I usually just smiled at the clamoring women and said, “Oh, sure, go on, take him out for a spin.” Especially the older, sweeter ones. But to the younger women, the blondes who ignored Andy for years – like the Hollywood producers who don’t want a script until someone else picks it up — well, to them I was less nice. I told them how Andy made a good living AND was a gourmet cook. (He’s also scary smart, especially in math, where he effortlessly upholds a major Chinese stereotype.)
Andy broke this stereotype on California freeways, flooring the accelerator of his Mustang Cobra, weaving in and out of traffic so recklessly that he’s terrified even BMW drivers. And me. In vain did I once grab the “oh, shit” handle over the passenger door and scream, “We’re gonna die!” He laughed, thinking it was one of my jokes. It wasn’t, but I didn’t want him to think I was a wuss, so I played along. (I’m still playing along, praying that the price of gas eventually forces him to buy a Prius.)
For a year – whenever we weren’t on the freeways – I was obliviously, contentedly smug. More smug than a sharp-eyed shopper on Black Friday who’d walked away with the newest laptop for under a hundred bucks, right under everyone else’s nose. I had a smart, successful boyfriend who adored me. He was a great kisser. He could cook. He could dance. And no one had a bad thing to say about him.
Today he took me home to meet his family. His Chinese family.
I’m a white girl. A stupid white girl who didn’t do her research on Chinese culture.
You can imagine how it went. No, wait, you can’t. Not unless you are Chinese. Not unless I tell you that Andy is the oldest boy in his family. And the first boy in several generations on his mother’s side of the family.
If you’re Chinese, you might already be laughing. If you’re not, well, check out my blog in a few more days and then you’ll be laughing. Or horrified. Or both.