Wednesday, June 03, 2009


My significant other (Savage Kitten) is Cantonese. Specifically, an American of Southern Chinese ancestry, born in this country. But still, that makes her a normal Chinatown girl, a 'Cantonese' woman.
Hence a person with sensibilities that sometimes diverge significantly from the glow-in-the-dark norm.

As you probably realize, I am white. This means that sometimes she and I are not on the same page. There are certain key differences between middle-aged white men and Cantonese-American girls - differences of which she is keenly aware, though she cannot for the life of her figure out why whitey is so weird.
It's probably all my fault in any case.

One key difference is what comes out of our mouths. Her utterances are not, strictly speaking, always sane. Cantonese are given to happy lyric hopefulness posed against operatic gloom. There is intemperance, excess, drama in their speech. They emote!
Cantonese naturally demand expressive license.

"If John EVER asks, tell him I'm STILL alive."

John is the landlord, who lives below us. Before I came home last night, one of the small blue crabs she had bought for soup nipped her fiercely. Apparently she swore and screamed loud enough to lift the dead.
Sound travels very well in our building. John certainly must have heard the howling.

"Stop singing darn you, crazy-ass white man!"

This pursuant the refrain to Dayenu. Following which, without realizing it, she started humming the theme to gone with the wind. There's a logical connection there, I'm sure, but it has nothing to do with any sense of ethnic womanhood repressed by an insensitive white system, or colonialist imperialist attitudes towards the other classes. Seeing as like all Cantonese girls she identifies with Scarlet O'Hara, it isn't clear to me where the link lies - either I'm not female enough or not Cantonese enough to see the obvious and logical connection.
It remains baffling (to me).


There are other points of difference that have little to do with speech, though it is by 'conversation' that they become apparent.

Such as when she unconsciously channels for the San Francisco landlord class, most of whom are also Cantonese.

Like the conversation we had about flushing - Apparently I flush too much. Water doesn't grow on trees. There's a drought. I should flush less, and stop the flush halfway through. Use a brick, or even a concrete block. And push the lever only every OTHER time I use the bathroom, or only after both of us have been - but only if there is no cause for offense (which would be mostly my doing, she assured me). We should synchronize our bladders.
I must use the bathroom at work more. And pour buckets of bathwater into the toilet. Buy more bottled water and use it to wash the dishes. Bars have toilets, don't they? Blue glass cleaner is JUST as good as real water.
And so on and so forth.

It wasn't till she got into the details of the scheme that she realized quite how insane she sounded.

I, on the other hand, was fully aware of it from the get-go. You see, I am white, and that gives me a clear-headedness entirely unmuddled by Cantonese hyperbole and poetic exaggeration.

Still, there is just no countering her conviction that middle-aged white men cause drought. Apparently there are far too many of us, and we will keep attending to our personal cleanliness despite that being a completely wasted effort!
If there were no white men here, there would be no drought. It's a fact.


GRANT!PATEL! said...

Stay away from water. Fush frick in it.

Wash in whiskey instead.

---Grant Patel

GRANT!PATEL! said...

Or is it frogs?

Never mind. Water is vastly overrated. We prefer milk. And yoghurt. All over! So smooth, so smooooooth!

---Grant Nastipants

Search This Blog


The doctor's appointment went very well. All the tests came back good. So the issues seem to have been resolved, and I'm sort of com...