Oh, Shut Up!

Sword FormI get a lot of e-mail.

Most of it is polite.

And while many questions have been answered in different sections of this site, some require greater explanation, and others are downright rude.

I shall answer both kinds now.

~ How did you and your wife meet?

I wasn't looking for a girlfriend when Mabel entered my life; we met at a conference. After a presentation, she saw me explaining something to an associate. She walked up, introduced herself and asked if I would mind answering a couple of questions about the presentation. I said I'd be happy to.

It wasn't love at first sight; there were no sparks; the music didn't come up and we didn't run into each other's arms.

~ Did you notice she was Chinese?

Of course I did, but several other things caught my attention first:

· she was a confident, intelligent woman.

· she was attractive and had a beautiful smile.

· she was a genuinely nice person.

From there, our relationship developed. We explored the distinctions of our respective cultures: upbringing, language, food and so on. That's normal in any relationship; it's called getting to know one another.

Our racial differences never really crossed my mind; it just wasn't an issue.

Until I met her family. Let's just say they were less than pleased.

"Awkward doesn't begin to describe that moment."

Against my better judgement, Mabel had insisted I accompany her to the airport to meet them when they emigrated to Canada. I explained that my gut instinct was screaming that it wasn't a good idea. She said it would be fine. Still reluctant, I went anyway.

Try to imagine her family's reaction when they cleared customs and spotted her in the waiting area.

With a big white guy standing next to her.

Holding her hand.

They looked at her. Then they looked at me.

At her. At me.

Stony silence. Awkward doesn't begin to describe that moment.

Sometimes I hate being right.

The next day we were surrounded by her parents, her brother and his girlfriend, and her sister, while they nattered at us for over an hour with nary a word in English. It didn't matter; disapproval was written all over their faces.

Despite that she'd worked her butt off to become a Canadian citizen to be able to sponsor them to live in Canada, they were ungrateful and angry with some of the choices she'd made.

One of them being me. To her credit, she informed them that she'd made her decision, and stayed with me. That's why she has my loyalty.

Over time, her family grew to realise I wasn't a colonial foreign devil. Canada didn't colonise Hong Kong, and I'm not British.

~ Why do you live in Hong Kong?

Simple. My wife wanted to go home. She was tired of Canadian winters, and her dream was to own a business in Hong Kong. When she told me she wanted to move, I said: Why not? After all, who am I to deny her dreams?

She made arrangements and moved on October 1, 1997. I lagged behind in Canada for a year to work, sell the house, sell the minivan and sell off or give away most of our possessions. I sure as Hell wasn't going to cart that stuff across the Pacific Ocean.

I moved to Hong Kong exactly one year later, October 1, 1998.

~ Have you experienced discrimination?

Given that Caucasians make up less than 2% of almost seven million people, not to mention the lingering post-colonial hangover, gee ... what do you think?

I've felt it, but mostly it's been subtle, not overt. I don't practice it, therefore I tend not to invite it.

It doesn't bother me when someone won't take the empty seat next to me on the bus or the train. It doesn't freak me out when people stare. It doesn't anger me when folks refer to me as gwai lo. It's amusing; heck, I refer to myself as a gwai lo.

· ƒ ·

Now, onto the rude questions. Despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of this site, a few folks out there just don't get it.

For the record, let me set a few things straight:

~ Do you have yellow fever?

"My wife isn't an object, bonehead."

Oh, shut up! I despise that term. It amazes me that people assume I married my wife because I have some kind of fetish for Asian women. A fetish is defined as any non-sexual object that abnormally excites erotic feelings.

My wife isn't an object, bonehead. She's my best friend, that's why I married her. That she's Chinese was never a factor.

Using the word fetish when talking about Mabel in my presence is likely to get you punched in the head.

~ Are you trying to be an egg?

Oh, shut up! Yes, I get it: white on the outside, yellow on the inside. Ha ha, you pointy-headed cretin.

Just because I appreciate some aspects of Chinese culture doesn't mean I want to be Chinese. Fitting in requires an open mind, not a complete disregard of one's nature.

· ƒ ·

Look, I don't mind questions, but I prefer good ones. I wrote this to reduce, if not eliminate, the flow of e-mail from morons.

I love having this site; I love being able to share the craziness that is life in this city. I love making people laugh.

I love how this site evolved from what was, at one time, nothing more than long-winded e-mail to family and friends. Speaking of long-winded, I think it's time that I shut up.

Oh, shut up.

March 26, 2001

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