I’m not Chinese, but lately I find myself surrounded by all things Mandarin. A new Asian supermarket opened up in my area, and I go there frequently because I love, love, LOVE to cook Thai food. All of Asia is crammed into this one store, so they have food from China, Japan, Korea, and more. Now I have junk food in my house that I would never buy at an American grocery store, but since the packaging is in a foreign language, it’s practically educational! I’m a sucker for a brand of lemon cookies from China; they’re so strong that they smell and taste like Lemon Pledge.
For health reasons, there are certain toys, fish, or other goods that I won’t buy if they’re imported from China, so it doesn’t make sense that I’m ingesting cookies made in China. The Lemon Pledge in them must be destroying the brain cells that control logic.
Fortunately, my daughter has not been eating Lemon Pledge. She took Mandarin Chinese classes last summer and did very well, especially with pronunciation. She won an award for it, I think; I can’t read the certificate because it’s in Mandarin. She only knows the basics, but her accent is so good that everything that comes out of her mouth in Chinese is funny to me. She’s such a white girl, with blonde hair and blue eyes, but she sounds authentic and fluent to my untrained ears. It makes my brain swirl around! (Or it could be the cookies.) Hearing her speak Chinese is totally cool, and I make her practice often.
Last weekend, she wrote Chinese characters on my Halloween costume. My husband and I were invited to a Halloween party with the theme “Princesses and Politicians,” so we made a small political statement. My husband dressed as a destitute Captain America; his shield advertised that he was trillions of dollars in debt and would hero for money. I went with him as the country of China. China, of course, had lots of money to invest in Captain America. Our tag line was “Who’s screwing who?” After two glasses of wine, I enthusiastically asked that to strangers each time we explained our costumes. A few party-goers understood the political joke and laughed, but most tilted their head and wondered if I was serious about the “who’s screwing who” swinger proposition. They probably thought to themselves “It’s not that kind of party, lady.”
I’m glad there were no Mandarin speakers at the party because my daughter printed the characters for “we are bananas” on my poster. That wasn’t a political statement; it was the mind of a 9-year-old at work.
To add to the weirdness, the coolly hat at the top of China accidentally looked phallic.
Zhing phong xiou!
I also talk about feng shui, the Chinese philosophy of energy equilibrium, when I play tennis. While serving, I like to hold all three balls. I keep one in my hand for the toss, and I distribute the other two in each side of my tennis skirt to satisfy my obsessive-compulsive desire for balance.
When my partner offers to hold a ball, I politely decline, motion to the balls in my skirt, and yell back my reply: “I like feng shui in my pants!”
I don’t really know much about feng shui, but I know how I like my pants. I like ‘em Chinese, along with my cookies.