Curfew (#102)

How late was your curfew?
How late was your curfew?

When Andy stayed with my family the Christmas before we got married, he was shocked by how late my Baby Sister came home. She was my last sibling in high school. Her boyfriend dropped her off about 1:31 AM. We, of course, were still awake, thanks to the three-hour time difference between LA and New Hampshire. Andy strained chicken stock while I frosted cream cheese sugar cookies. Baby Sister told us good-night and helped herself to a cookie on the way upstairs.

After she went up to bed, Andy said, “Isn’t it kind of late?”

“Nah. My curfew was 1:30 when I was a senior, too.”

Andy looked at the clock and said, “She cut it kind of close. If I wasn’t home by ten minutes before curfew, my parents would start calling all my friends’ homes looking for me.”

“What time was your curfew?”

Andy muttered something.

“What was that? I can’t hear you.”

Andy sighed. “Midnight.”

“In high school? Wow, that sucks. What about college?”

“Still midnight. It was always midnight.”

“Holy shit. Even in grad school? You lived with your parents until you were 25 and you still had a midnight curfew?!”

“Well, you said you had one, too!”

“Yeah, in HIGH SCHOOL,” I scoffed. “Not when we came home from college. Hell, when Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister brought home a boyfriend her freshman year, Dad didn’t care how late they stayed out or if they slept in the same room. He was all, ‘she’s an adult now and I have no control over her at school, it’s silly and pointless to enforce rules at home.’”

“Your dad is very practical.”

“Well, up to a point. He wouldn’t let any of us take the big van on dates.”

“Really? My parents let me take their white van everywhere.”

“Yes, because it broke down all the time, it made you look like a either a florist or a rapist, and you had to be home at 11:45 PM. Not a lot of danger there, babe.”

Andy made a sad, pouty face. “That was harsh.”

“You know it’s true!” I laughed and hugged him. “Your parents are crazy, babe, but I can’t complain too much. They kept you safe and out of the clutches of other, awful women until I found you.”

Andy licked the frosting off my fingers and agreed.


Eleven months later, after an evening at a long and less-than edible Chinese Wedding Banquet in Hawaii, Andy took me out to get a burger. He followed that up with a trip to Leonard’s Bakery. I devoured my haupia malasadas. Then I devoured Andy’s (only fair since he ate my dinner).

Andy started the car and asked, “Ready head back to my parents’?”

I shuddered. “No.”

For once, we weren’t driving Andy’s parents around. Sunny and Jay had chauffeured several relatives to the banquet in their new sedan. They gave Andy the old white van to drive. After four days of hovering in-laws, it was nice to be alone. Even if our only background music was clanking and rattling. (The van’s ancient radio no longer worked.)

“The van’s big enough,” I said. “Let’s just sleep in this parking lot.”

“What about a scenic drive up the mountain?”

I gave the van a dubious look. “Can we make it?”

“I always wanted to try,” said Andy.


“The road is deserted.”

“You know I don’t have life insurance, right?”

“You know, this van is pretty roomy. And no one would see anything we did…”

I was still stuck on the idea of dumping bodies. Certain bodies in particular. “Dude, we don’t have your parents in the car.”

“Exactly. So you, me, a roomy van, a deserted road on a balmy night in Hawaii…”

“OH! Oh, I get it!” And I finally did. Staying with Andy’s parents, we didn’t have a lot of privacy to do the stuff newlyweds like to do. The doors didn’t lock, and his parents didn’t knock. “Hit the gas, babe!

Andy peeled out.


Andy was right. The road (appropriately named “Tantalus Drive”) was full of switchbacks and empty of traffic. We giggled like teenagers the whole way up, enjoyed ourselves in a thoroughly X-rated fashion, and giggled all the way down the hill.

“I can’t believe your parents let you drive this van all through high school and you never took a girl up there before.” I shook my head. “Such a waste.”

“Don’t forget, I drove it in college, too,” he reminded me.

“And now we’ve passed sad and we’re heading into tragic.”


When we opened his parents’ front door, Andy’s mom was sitting in front of the TV. Scowling.

I was in the door first. “Hi, Sunny—”

She stood, interrupting. “Why you so late?! Why you not call?! I call your phone ten times and no answer!”

For once, her glare was directed at someone besides me. Or rather, someone beside me.

Andy shrugged. “Hi, Ma.”

Sunny was not appeased. “Where you been?! And what happened to your phone? Why I have to call so much?!”

I did the prudent thing. I bolted for the bathroom.

I took a shower, flossed my teeth, brushed my teeth, and cracked the bathroom door. Sunny was still bitching. I tiptoed into the hallway.

When she finally paused for breath, Andy merely said, “I put my phone on ‘do not disturb’ for the banquet.”

Sunny: “You should put on vibrate! That way at least it buzzes!” And she was off again.

I closed our bedroom door in a hurry, leaving Andy to at least another ten minutes of haranguing. He endured it far better than I would have. I’d have yelled back after two minutes. There would have been name-calling. Door-slamming. Things might have been thrown. HEAVY things. I pulled a pillow over my head and tried to ignore the sound of Sunny’s voice.

Eventually, Andy sauntered in the bedroom. Relaxed. Whistling, even.

I set the pillow down, confused. “Did your mom apologize?”

Andy laughed at me. “My mom doesn’t know how to apologize.” He undressed and hung up his nice clothes, before sliding into bed next to me. I got a lighthearted kiss. Then the man was asleep in seconds.

I was not. Adrenaline still flowed, though I hadn’t been the one under attack. I could not understand how Andy could be so calm. So cheerful. So unconcerned. I propped myself up on my elbow and stared down at him. The orange light from the digital clock on the bedside table illuminated my husband’s face. I could see a hint of a triumphant smile curving the corners of his mouth.

I looked at the clock. 1:30 AM.

And I understood.

At age 31, my Chinese-American husband had finally taken his parents’ van up the forbidden mountain, gotten laid, and broken his curfew.

He’d achieved his high school dream. For the moment, nothing could touch him.

Not even a Tiger Mother’s fury.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

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

48 thoughts on “Curfew (#102)”

  1. “Yes, because it broke down all the time, it made you look like a either a florist or a rapist, and you had to be home at 11:45 PM. Not a lot of danger there, babe.”

    That line made me laugh so hard, haha.

    Scoooore~go Andy! He’s done worse than me, that’s for sure, haha. It was actually my white dad, and not Asian mom, that gave me a tough time for coming home late!

    1. Thank you! I love it when people laugh at my jokes.

      I am not sure Andy’s going to find it as funny, though. 🙂

      Yeah, my dad was a total hard ass about the curfew. There was one night where I was home, but in the driveway, saying good-bye, and he stormed out of the house, ready to drag me out of the car. In his pajamas.

      Last time I ever saw that date.

          1. No, they come out during the day to take little children away. The fear of GOD was put into us re: this in grade school. Black vans steal children. White vans sell candy and noodles to children. Ask Andy.

            1. I know all about the ice-cream man, but… noodles? Really? I was sure anything savory would be spam musubi!

              Note to self: ask Andy what the hell a manapua man is and then figure how to add it to auto-correct along with musubi.

      1. I could stay out as late as I wanted. I had my family’s hand-me-down Isuzu Impulse and was the designated driver (one of them) in high school – and in college, well, I left home. My mom usually stayed up though, but she’d ask how the night went, etc, what we did, but never a lecture. She trusted me and my brother…I’m not sure why, but I’m glad. Often, I was racing back from town to get my friends back home in time for their curfews.

        1. I did that, too! One time a whole group of us went out in high school (either band or glee club or something equally nerdy) and all these freshmen got left at Pizza Hut with no way home. So I called my dad and told him I’d be late because I was shuttling these kids back to their houses. Took forever, because if you don’t drive, you are not so good with directions. I got home at like 2:30 AM.

          My dad yelled at me, but I escaped the normally inevitable grounding.

  2. Mr.Panda gets told off frequently by his mom and I don’t get why he never fights for his rights. His brother too. He tells me that it’s impossible to change his mom anymore anyway and that it’s just a waste of energy to talk back. 🙁

    And really? A curfew for a grown up? Really???

  3. It’s not just your in-laws. Trust me. It’s all Asian parents. I had a curfew until I moved out. It was an unspoken curfew, because I didn’t have a car and had to use my mom’s car. So I had to ask for permission to even leave the house. I was 21 when I officially moved out of the house.

    Once, My sister and I went to see the movies together. Our mother knew. The movie theatre was literally a 10 minute drive from our house. Nobody in our family had cell phones back then. I was in college, she was either a high school senior or had just started college, I don’t remember exactly. We went to see the movie. After the movie, we went to the bathroom in the movie theatre, but because the movie finished around the exact same time as 2 other movies, the women’s bathroom was packed (as usual). It probably took us a good 10-15 min to actually use the bathroom, and then another 15 min to get out of the car park.

    When we got home, my mom flipped out. And I mean, there was screaming, hysterics, the whole nine yards. We took longer than the 15 min allotted to leave the movie theatre and get home after the movie, you see. Lots of spurious and highly suspicious accusations were leveled at us. Tragic demises were lovingly depicted. My favourite line was: “I thought you girls had been raped, murdered, and dumped in a ditch!!!!!!”

    The time? Around 10:30pm…

    I really feel Andy’s pain. I didn’t even get laid.

      1. Oh man. If I’d been raped, murdered and dumped in a ditch as many times as my mother has accused me of, there wouldn’t be an empty ditch within a 10 mile radius of my house.

        My sister and I were actually quite contrite in the beginning, but my mom lost all credibility once she pulled out that argument… So we got yelled at for rolling our eyes at each other, for disrespecting her and clearly for not loving her enough to let her know what was going on. lol. I look back now and just laugh, but it wasn’t funny at the time.

        Hah. When I officially moved out, I was also disowned by my mother (for the second time). To be honest, moving out was the best thing I could’ve done for myself, my sanity, and my relationship with my parents. Parents. Sometimes, one just doesn’t know what to do with them.

  4. One for Andy (or more like three)!! I really thought you were going to break down before you got up the mountain or got it done. I avoided curfew by sleeping at a girlfriend’s house most weekends in high school. Her parents went away a lot.

  5. As the saying goes, better late than never. How triumphant for Andy. Growing up, I had no curfew. In fact, I was not allowed to go out and socialise or even pak tor/date up until I was much older. The only time I’d allow to hang out with friends outside of school (primary and secondary school) was once every few month, and it would be a quick dinner at the shopping centre near the school. I was not allowed to take public transport, the bus or tjhe train by myself then (keep in mind we were in Singapore and its a country with a relatively low crime rate). My mum would drive me to and fro the the social outings and sometimes she’d lurk around nearby until I was done and drive me home.

      1. Most of my peers had the freedom to go to and fro school via public transport in Singapore. Their parents also didn’t really mind they hung out too often at malls after school. Would definitely say I felt over-protected, and I plan to write a post about that a little later down the track.

        These days sometimes I still get a kick out of not telling my parents where I am.

  6. I was always the one with the shittiest curfew when I was in high school 🙁 I remember I was always the first one going home. Can’t remember what time it was, though. However that didn’t last long, I attended Uni in another city so I lived by myself and could do whatever I wanted 😀

    Your MIL… scolding a 31 year old married man for arriving home at 1.30… she should totally be a nasty character in a sit-com xD

    1. Oh, how well do I remember the joy of my freshman year! Freedom…but in a protected environment. With friends who looked out for you. Just in case.

      On her own, my MIL is not evil. She’s a good citizen. A nice person. (Mostly.) But like many parents, she’s unable to step back, let go, and respect her son’s choices in life. Because she knows better.

      I’m making notes on how NOT to behave if I ever have a son who has a girlfriend…

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