Monday, April 07, 2003
You like 14+ hour drives? I don't... but the trade-off for this weekend was well worth it, not counting the double C-note ticket that the racist wh0re
gon po-po is trying to stick to me.
Since I have vowed this will be a more happy, less bitter, entry, the following highlights from the weekend with Shiv:
Meet the Parents (again):
I remember the first time I met Shiv's parents, it was a couple of years ago when she graduated and they were up for her graduation. I was supposed to meet them for dinner, but I was late... I was coming back from ANOTHER roadtrip, a guys' retreat in Seaside, Oregon. Since then, I'd like to think they the know me better and have a better impression of me. I for one like her parents a lot... they crack me up, in the lovable-goofy Chinese parents way.
Shiv's maternal grandma is a cute old lady. I like her a lot, if just for the fact that her stubbornness is evidence that Shiv has inherited that trait via genetics.
I only got to visit my Mom's own family for a brief lunch in San Leandro, but it was good. It's nice to visit family under non-funeral circumstances.
Shiv's Big Fat Chinese Family:
The last time I met them, it was information overload... I met them ALL at once. This time, I got to know everybody a bit better and get to see their individual personalities. All Chinese American families are pretty much the same, really... just for fun, I've written a little brief of the categories/battle-plan for people who may be un-informed on Chinese family dynamics and looking to "make good":
- Happy Grandparents: Happy, cheerful old people, likes to watch TV, gambles (mahjong, cards, horse racing), cooks good food, and loves spoiling grandchildren. Say you like a certain kind of food just ONCE, and they'll remember to cook it for you / buy it every time afterwards, because they think it's your favorite... so obviously, be careful what you say you like. They'll pretty much like you no matter what, but big bonus points if you're Chinese, small bonus if you're Asian.
- Grumpy Grandparents: Either brooding and angry looking, or pretty much oblivious to your presence, because they're about to depart this mortal life. A battle I wouldn't bother fighting, unless you like challenges or juggling handgrenades. Steer clear unless you wanna create family drama.
- Auntie/Uncle, Type I: Talkative, loudly yells Chinese everywhere (but especially in public), and appears obnoxious at first glance, when he/she's really just opinionated. Can be your best ally or your worst enemy, depending on what first impression you made. Best defense is fighting over paying the dinner bill with them and letting them "win" and pay, OR casually slip a compliment like, "(insert signif. other name) is (insert positive trait... I can see he/she gets it from you." Example: Siobhan is so kind and considerate... I can see she gets it from you!
- Auntie/Uncle, Type II: 'Happy Grandparent' in training, see above. Differences is usually younger and more Americanized, so you can probably talk about more contemporary stuff with them and they'll know what you're saying, like current events or the NCAA tournament.
- Auntie/Uncle, Type III: The inverse of the Type I... quiet, soft spoken, intelligent, laidback and usually passive. Probably carries a hidden stubborn streak. They'll usually be around, sipping tea or coffee and being a hard read as to whether or not they like you. Either way, they won't be vocal about it, but it doesn't mean you should discount their support. Because they speak less, anything they do say carries more weight - and believe me, you want them to say good things about you. Some choice conversation/compliments (not chatter, because to them silence is golden) will have them singing your praises.
- Token Non-Chinese Auntie/Uncle: Usually white/American-ized, so they'll give you sympathy if you happen to chafe against any overtly Chinese customs the family has, like fighting over the yum cha bill. Can be good person to talk to if you just wanna rap in English or chill, but don't expect too much aid from them in helping winning over anybody else in the family except the spouse that they're married to. Blood relatives should be a higher priority target for winning approval from.
- Cousin, Type I: The FOB. Unless you speak Chinese... ummm, don't bother. Smile and nod "yes" a lot.
- Cousin, Type II: The "normal" cousin... probably your contemporary, either your age or younger. If they're a little kid, say elementary age or younger, probably a non-factor. Junior high, high school, or college age will be pretty much the same, so if you're a normal person who keeps up with popular culture and can make friends with normal people, no need to sweat this category.
- The Parents: Whole articles can and have been written on this one, so I won't bother to elaborate. My three keys to success: smile, be respectful at all times, and bring a present. Oh yeah, and pray... haha. I guess that's four keys.
OK, that wasn't too short.
But all y'all who may someday be dating somebody Chinese-American... you'll thank me later.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA
less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know