Out of the Lair of the Hong Kong Grandmother (Afterthoughts)
Posted on February 16, 2009
Kris’s Hong Kong Vacation Log (Afterthoughts)
Experiencing another culture is something I believe everybody should do, especially Americans. We can be arrogant about the rest of the world and it’s the worst kind of arrogance; we don’t realize we’re arrogant. We’re fed stories of how things should be and how we should hope that they one day are, but there is more than one way in the world to do something or have something be. There’s more than one viewpoint.
(Experiencing First Class while traveling is also an extremely important and should be repeated whenever possible.)
A friend of mine was puzzling over the birth of his niece, who is half Chinese and half American, many years back and he asked me how I dealt with dating or interacting with someone who was of two different races. My response to him was that I don’t look at it as Ralph being from two different races. He is of two cultures and that gives him an advantage most of us will never have.
I feel very fortunate to having been introduced to another culture and experiencing it firsthand. I am already a minority in that I’m gay, but it’s one that you cannot easily pick out if we happen to be walking down the same street at the same time. However, being overseas, I stick out like a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed sore thumb. Children stare at me, wide-eyed, and tug on their parents’ sleeves, street vendors immediately jack up the price of whatever they’re offering (I’ve learned to bargain–try doing that in a Best Buy) and I’ve felt very alone despite being surrounded by millions of people. It’s an experience I wouldn’t give up for anything because it changes you. I’m not the most patient person in the world and I don’t always say the nicest things at the appropriate time, but it has made me aware of others who, like at times like me, are a stranger in a strange land. That’s when I tend to go out of my way a little more than normal to help them out, say “hello” or just nod. Because I know a little bit, just a little bit, about what it’s like.
The Hong Kong Grandmother will never change. Some of her ways can certainly be chalked up to cultural differences, but the rest? She wants what she wants when she wants it, admits to not apologizing if she’s wrong (she is older than we are and feels she shouldn’t have to apologize because of her age) and isn’t above throwing a tantrum to achieve something because it should be the way she wants it. And that’s fine…right up until she becomes disrespectful of something I hold very near and dear to me; my relationship with Ralph.
This trip was a milestone in that she threw no tantrums and didn’t have any meltdowns. It was also memorable because of how far she went with setting Ralph up with the Taiwanese woman while pushing me out of the way. That hurt. I may be old at the ripe age of 38, but I am still capable of being hurt and that did. It also stung when he retorted with “We aren’t married.” I’ve been under the impression that we essentially have been for the past 14 years despite not having an official certificate saying so. I hope one day we do.
At what point do you sit her down and say “Stop. You’re hurting my partner. You’re hurting my relationship with him and you’re hurting my relationship with you.”? I can’t be the one to do that with her. It’s not my place and the repercussions of doing that without his permission would most likely end the relationship. So what does it take to make him realize that it’s a problem? I’ve told him. He says he can handle it. By pursuing the topic, he’ll say I’m not showing any faith in his abilities. By doing nothing, it solves nothing.
Food for thought.
And I can say that this trip has given me the majority of the plot points I need to write the third Andy book once I’m done with the current unrelated novel I’m writing.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.