Andy Goes to Utah (#40)


Once my father moved to Utah, he was the only relative within driving distance. After a few years and a lot of therapy, I actually made the trip. It wasn’t so bad. We talked a little. I got a better understanding of his own childhood, the parents who had shaped him, and his issues. I didn’t know if I could ever fully forgive him for a less-than pleasant childhood, or for constantly putting all his wives ahead of his children. But I had to give the man credit for at least trying to connect.

Dad occasionally initiated phone calls and extended more invitations to visit. Each visit was a little better (money spent on therapy is money well spent). Sometimes I brought a friend or boyfriend with me. My father’s town was small, but his house was large, and the mountains were pretty and quiet.

Eventually, I brought Andy. He made dinner one night. Current Stepmom seemed to like dinner and like Andy. There was just one problem.

My father kept calling Andy by the wrong name.

Even worse, it was the name of my last ex-boyfriend before Andy – Ethan. Andy and Ethan had once been friends. They weren’t friends anymore. But that’s another post.

Ethan was also Asian-American and he had been one of the guys I once brought to Utah. Apparently Ethan made an impression on my dad.  I corrected my father the first time he called Andy Ethan. My dad apologized. No biggie.

We went out to dinner the second night of our trip. The conversation went like this:

Dad: “What will you be having, Ethan?”

Andy: “I have no idea what Ethan will be having, but I’m thinking about the surf and turf.”

Dad looked around blankly.

Me: “You did it again, Dad. His name is ANDY.”

Dad: “Oh. Sorry. I don’t know why I’m doing that.”

The waiter arrived. He took our order.  Conversation resumed. A few minutes later:

Dad: “So I know your job is top secret, Ethan –”

Current Stepmom: “You mean Andy, dear.”

Dad: “Yes, of course, sorry, Andy.”

Andy (graciously): “It’s okay.” It wasn’t.  Andy hated Ethan.

I asked Current Stepmom about her voice students and the opera. We got through another few minutes of conversation. My dad excused himself. Current Stepmom flagged down the waiter and ordered another cocktail.

Andy whispered: “Is your dad messing with me on purpose? Is this his way of saying he liked Ethan or something?”

Me: “He’s not subtle enough to manage that. Promise.”

Andy: “You think this is subtle?”

My dad returned. We continued talking about Current Stepmom’s opera. My dad, though, was still fixated on Andy’s job. The minute conversation lagged, he turned back to Andy.

Dad: “I know you can’t tell us much about your work, Ethan, but –”

Me: “OH MY GOD! DAD! It’s ANDY.”

Current Stepmother put her head in her hand. My dad turned red. Andy unclenched his teeth long enough to take a big swallow of beer.

Me: “Let’s just not use names for the rest of the evening, okay? ‘Hey, you,’ will work just fine.”

Dad: “I’m really sorry, Ethan—”

Me: “Gah!” That was it. I stood up, reached over, slapped my father on the hand, and hissed, “Goddamn it, his name is ANDY!

Now, I got my share of spankings as a kid (and more). But that night, our roles were reversed. After I smacked his hand, my dad sat back, shamefaced. I sat down, and my dad said, “I don’t know why I keep doing that. I didn’t even like Ethan.”

Our server, followed by the restaurant manager, cautiously approached our table. “Is everything okay here?”

I looked around. Several neighboring tables of Mormon families (identifiable by their blonde hair and 4-5 kids less than a year apart) stared at us. Hard to say whether they were more offended by my swearing or the sight of a woman raising her hand against a male elder. My father assured the waiter that we were fine. The waiter looked at Andy for confirmation.

Andy gave the waiter a big smile. Too big. I realized that Andy was trying very, very hard not to laugh. All the tension had left his face. Probably the minute he heard my dad admit that he, too, did not like Ethan.

Andy said to the waiter, “Yeah, no worries. We’re fine.”

And we were.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

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

20 thoughts on “Andy Goes to Utah (#40)”

    1. I know. Maybe he has an association problem with names that start with vowels. The brain is a fascinating place. For example, you keep all the obnoxious “little boy names” stuck in one place, which is always my excuse for calling my little brother by a misbehaving dog’s name.

      So probably my dad has a spot in his brain with the names of all the ex-boyfriends. He’s got A LOT of daughters with a whole heaping mess of ex-boyfriends. I should be more sympathetic. But it was so embarrassing at the time!

  1. Must be a really small town, at least in SLC people don’t even look up at your blasphemous word, so they probably noticed the slap, since corporal punishment is out of fashion. I like to give your father the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was too nervous trying to make a good impression.

    One question though, did Andy notice the townspeople staring at him? I remember back in the previous century, going on Boy Scout trips through small towns in Utah, and the townies would stare at me, and at the time it bothered me, but now I realize they probably had never seen an asian in person before.

    1. You know the rest of Utah calls SLC “Sin City,” right? 😉 I think the LDS are going to be in the minority soon, no?

      Yes, definitely a small town, we had to drive a bit to find a restaurant. Predominantly white, but near a college that does have Asian students. There is also a Latino population, as well as some Navajos.

      I think Andy felt the lack of color more in small town New Hampshire, but I’ll ask him to post a response. The first time I took him to NH, we saw exactly one Asian — a little boy with white parents. The second time, we went to the sole Chinese restaurant in a larger town. Andy found it disconcerting that all the servers were white. Only the owners were Chinese.

      1. I am glad that nobody stared for your sake. Compared to when I was growing up, Utah has significantly increased it’s Asian population, so that may have made a difference(lol at Shanghai Noon).

  2. lol Shaghai Noon

    That is so bad about your dad, but I’m glad that Andy took it in good stride! I know some dudes would blow up about that.

    And yay, Utah! My home state! Yes, SLC is definitely different from the rest of Utah. My boyfriend and I drove through southern Utah on a road trip last summer and we didn’t get any stares either. I think those areas get so many tourists from abroad they’re kind of used to it as well.

    I think what may have garnered the stares was the swearing, maybe? Whenever I go back to Utah and I swear like a sailor all loud and in public I get stared at like crazy. One reason I dislike Mormon culture is because I have to walk on egg shells all the time. No swearing, no talking about my drunken nights and hungover mornings, no talking about other religions, etc..

    And another lol for the 4-5 blonde kids comment. So true.

    1. Yes, I think the FLDS women (both the first wife and the last wife) shopping at Walmart get more stares than Andy does in Utah these days.

      So does a woman swearing, apparently. 🙂

  3. My whole family got off easy, my ex of over four years was named Mike. Now I’m with another Mike……even if a mistake was made no one would know……..

    Oh this just reminded me have you noticed that Asian people LOVE names with a “y” at the end. Jay, Sunny, Denny, Andy. My future family has Vicky, Johnny, Mandy, Joby, Tony, Jenny…..and the list keeps going

    1. That was a very considerate choice you made, to date another “Mike,” hahaha.

      Yes. The inevitable Y. And the naming with nicknames, too. Andy says I should do I post on that.

  4. Poor Andy. xD

    Ooooh, a “y” preference? I think pretty much all of the Asians I know skipped that part. XD Most of them have no “y” in their names. xDD

  5. I’m almost impressed over how many times he got Andy’s name wrong. My parents still can’t spell YJ’s name correctly. I forgive my dad as Y and J sounds are the same in Swedish, but my mom has no linguistic excuse. Then again, I understand an unfamiliar name causing difficulty–however I still get called either the dog’s name (by dad) or my aunt’s name (by my mother), so…

    1. I giggle. I called Baby Brother by our dog’s name several times. Apparently you store little boys names in one place in your brain — maybe for energetic and contrary creatures? — and it is easy to mess that up.

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