Dinner at Chez Mortification (#4)

In which the white girl flails worse than any fish out of water.
In which the white girl flails worse than any fish out of water.

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.

I fought a losing battle with monosyllabic answers.

“So, Jay, is this your favorite restaurant?’


“What is your favorite restaurant?”


“Um, what about you, Denny?”


Jay interrupted. “No.”

I laughed. “You’re not seriously telling Denny what his favorite restaurant is?”

He seriously was. Jay said to Denny, “No. Roy’s too expensive.”

Silence. No one argued.

“What’s Roy’s?” I asked Andy.

“It’s an Asian fusion place in Hawaii Kai.”

“We should totally take your parents there and pick up the check.”

Andy downed a large gulp of beer. “Bad idea.”

The food arrived. We ate in silence. I’m not good with silence. After a minute, I said, “Sunny, how did you and Jay—“

BOOM! Jay slammed both fist down on the table. Utensils and glasses rattled. We – and the rest of the restaurant — stared at Jay.

Jay barked across the table at Andy: “How you sleep!?”

Andy, bewildered: “In my new bed? Fine –”

Jay interrupted. “No, no! How you sleep she talk so much!?”

I stared at my plate, redder Hawaii’s dumbest tourist. Denny, Claire, Sunny, and even Andy (traitor!) snickered. I turned to Sunny when the hilarity subsided. “C’mon, Sunny, obviously I am talking too much and you have to help me out.”

Sunny gave me a glassy look and announced: “I’m drunk!”

“I thought you only had one glass of chardonnay?”

“I did,” laughed Sunny. “I am a cheap date!”

At least the laughter wasn’t at my expense this time. Andy signaled the waiter for another beer. I wondered where my boyfriend got his tolerance for alcohol. Jay was drinking only water, and not well. He choked on a sip a few minutes later.

I waited, and when Jay’s coughing fit finally died down, I gave Sunny my sweetest smile and loudly cooed, “How do you sleep, he coughs so much?”

Jay glared at me, but couldn’t think of a retort. Undoubtedly due to a dearth of practice.

Andy handed me the keys and ordered another beer.

I think I figured out where he got his his tolerance for alcohol.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

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