Little. Yellow. Different.

I’m in Toronto right now, enjoying the Christmas holidays with Arlene and her family, and I have to tell you, it’s pretty wierd. I’m having a great time, of course, but spending time with a Chinese family over the holidays has been, well, periodically odd.

I will share the details with you soon enough; Arlene is looking over my shoulder right now, and she’s asked me “Do I have Blog-Veto power?” so I’m probably going to have to get back to you about this when she’s asleep. In the meantime, peace be unto y’all. Happy holidays, all that good stuff. I hope the new year treats you all well.

Update: Ok, Jeff, you asked for it.

  • In my family, at share-alike meals, we choose a few dishes and then we say “Will this be enough? I think that should be enough.” And if it’s not, we get dessert or coffee, or something. I’ve been to three or four Dim Sums and eat-outs in a row now, and my keen observatory skills lead me to believe that when you are Chinese, the relevant questions are “have we successfully obscured this table with food? Can we still see some part of the table? We might need more food.”

  • I don’t speak the language, clearly, so I just eat what I’m told to eat and then told what it is later. “That was shredded pig’s ear with cucumber.” “That was… You probably don’t want to know what that was.” I am regularly made to eat things that are not immediately recognizable as food. My reactions to both food and information, however, are apparently fascinating; I feel like an ape at a table full of Jane Goodalls.
  • There’s always a plastic bag on a cupboard door handle in the kitchen, for garbage. Every single time. Even if an actual designed-for-garbage container is eight inches away. It’s some kind of home-ornament secret handshake.
  • You might have been told that Bhuddism and Christianity being the two prominent Chinese religions, but I believe that they might come in third and fourth behind Mahjongg and Playstation.
  • Disconcertingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, the syllables “Mike” and “Hoye” come up in a very large fraction of Chinese sentences which are otherwise, to my ear, total gibberish. And it’s making me paranoid. If my guess is right, there are entire dialects of Chinese that employ no phonemes other than “hoye” and “mike”, and those people are talking about me behind my back all the time.
  • That last point might not be strictly grounded in a sane man’s reality, but there’s only so much tea, grease and soy sauce a man can consume firs
    t thing in the morning before his brain starts asking his stomach for a trial separation.

  • Mayonnaise is liberally applied to an astonishing number of not-normally-associated-with-mayonnaise things.
  • This might be unique to the crowd that I’m hanging with but from what I can see one of the preferred gifts to give each other is some bottle of quite-nice booze, and yet barely anybody drinks. We’re still working on the first bottle of red we’ve opened here, three days and two dinner parties after we opened it.
  • Two words: “Organ Meats”. Not just the common, popular organs like liver; I’m talking lungs, intestines, you name it. Tendons. Skin.

I’ll add more to this list as they occur to me, and I’m sure they will.


  1. Posted December 28, 2003 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Being of Chinese-American heritage myself, I will be very interested in knowing what you find odd. :-)

    Happy holidays!

  2. Posted December 28, 2003 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Mike, all the best of the Holidays and Happy New Year to you and Arlene! Dude I miss you here in ottawa… but I’m glad you’re having a blast you deserve it! woot!