Now you have to excuse me. I came home really angry and ready to write a scathing blog post about how much my parents disappoint me, but then I read some really awesome Britney news and everything was better.
So at best, this blog post can only be lukewarm because with Britney’s “Circus” music video coming out on December 5th, how can anyone be sad? Plus, she’s beating Slipknot by almost 200,000 votes on fuse (to widen that gap, go to: Best of 2008)!
But now back to the anger.
This week we have a guest from China staying at our house– one of my parents’ customers and forced friend (as Carla Bruni described the relationship between Sarkozy and GW Bush, “well… they have to [get along],”).
Up until tonight, I’ve been very good at avoiding this guest and having to eat dinner with this guest because I’ve been all over the place (which really means one of four places: my house, Santana’s Mexican Grill, Elaine’s house, or McCafé). However, I couldn’t get out of it tonight and I had to go out to Viet food with my parents and the guest.
You may think I’m rude for trying to avoid a guest, but you just don’t understand.
You see, my life is just like “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne. Allow me to quote some of the beautiful poetry:
You’re watching your back/ Like you can’t relax./ You’re trying to be cool/ but you look like a fool to me.
Because you see, when I’m around my parents and their friends, they suddenly don’t like me very much. Just a couple examples from tonight’s rendez-vous with my parents and random guest:
- In Mandarin Chinese, there are two ways to say “Mandarin Chinese”, “hanyu” (common in mainland China) and “guoyu” (common in Taiwan). The guest asks me, in Chinese, if I can speak “hanyu”, and I understand and I say a “little bit”. But then my parents stop him and tell him that he has to use the words “guoyu” with me. I tell my mom that I understood what he said and she laughs back at me, in Chinese, “NO! How could you have understood?!”.
- My dad told the guest that I can only read the “ABC’s” of Chinese.
- The guest has a notion that I can’t speak Chinese at all. He proceeds to call me a “banana” in Chinese and my parents laugh and “explain” it to me in English.
- They start having a conversation about my height (without any input from me) and I nod or make a gesture and my dad has to ask, “Do you even know what we’re talking about?”
Now a quick commentary on these previous four points.
I really don’t appreciate my parents thinking I’m an idiot. I spent 6 fucking weeks in Taiwan; I studied hours upon hours looking at artistic scribbles trying to attach them to meaning, and they can’t even acknowledge that maybe, just MAYBE, I know a little Chinese?? It pisses me off. Of course, I’m not Rui Jin or Haiyun Weng who’s basically fluent and can take the AP test and score a 5, but I’m not a dumbass. And I don’t appreciate how my parents don’t even recognize the effort I have put into it.
Secondly, as fascinating as it is to hear it said in Chinese, I really don’t like being called a “banana” by a complete stranger. Of course it’s true– I’m yellow on the outside, white on the inside– but is it really okay to be called that by a someone who doesn’t know me? Not only is it rude, but it’s deameaning! He said it straight to my face, as if I wouldn’t understand!
In my eyes, being called a “banana” IS deameaning. It means that I’m completely culture-bound, closed minded. It means that I have no regard for my heritage. It means that no matter how hard I’ll try, I’ll always be naturally white on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be likened to fruit. I like to think I’m more complex than that.
Even if the guest just made a cultural blunder, being a “banana” cannot be seen in any positive light. Especially in Chinese culture, which holds family and tradition as the most important values.
And my parents don’t even fucking stand up for me? They’re just going to laugh at his stupid joke? They’re going to let someone with money belittle their own son? And then my mom tries to explain it to me? As if I can’t understand the words “banana”, “yellow” and “white”?
Believe it or not, those four things happened before we even sat down to eat at the restaurant.
How stupid do they think I am? At one point they’re assuring me that I can get into Harvard, and the next they are treating me as if I knew nothing at all.
It’s shit like this that makes me wish I had never learned Chinese. My dad is convinced I am more incompetent than a newborn baby and even worse, my mom knows I understand Chinese, but tries to cover up for my ineptness by blaming it on me being “American”.
And if you really know me, you know that the one thing I hate most is being labelled “American”. I don’t want to be confined to one culture and I won’t allow myself to be confined.
America is actually a great place full of cultural diversity but I don’t like being attributed to the stereotypical “American” that is a fast-food eating, white person who drives a big car.
So parents, I just have to ask: why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?
P.S. EVERY dinner out with “guests” is the same, if not worse.
P.P.S. I can’t fucking wait until I’m out of here.
P.P.P.S I suppose it’s important to note that they’re spending Thanksgiving with this guest in Las Vegas. I elected to stay behind, but still, so much for family holidays right?