A couple of nights ago, Y asked me if I’d like to have dinner with him
and his family. It wasn’t going to be anything fancy. Just dinner at a
restaurant nearby. Something they do every month. I hesitated at first,
knowing Y usually doesn’t ask me to these things ever. And I don’t
attempt to pry my way into them, as it’s his business to ask me along
or not. In the end, I decided to do it, interested in meeting all these
people he keeps talking about. I’d already met Y’s immediate family,
his brother and his parents. But this is the first time I got to meet
his extended family: aunts, uncles and cousins.
We got to the restaurant late (He makes it a policy of his to get
there with as little waiting time as possible. Likes to eat right
away). We walked in, and immediately, everyone says greets each other.
We take our seats, me beside his mom and him beside his uncle. Suddenly
Y’s uncle: *Chinese*Chinese*Chinese*Anna?
Y’s mom: *Chinese*Chinese*Chinese* Anna, la!
Me: Oh, yes. I’m Anna.
Y’s uncle: Oooh! *Chinese*Chinese* Hey-lo!
Me: Oh. Hi! ha ha… ha?
I guess they’ve heard of me? I just wish I understood what they were
saying. It piqued my curiosity; what were they saying about me? They
could talk about me right in front of my face and I’ve never know it.
For most of the dinner, I just sat eating my quail legs and crabs and
scallops (mmm, Chinese food) and nodding at most of the questions
directed my way. (Because nodding is the universal polite answer to
questions posed to you in a language you do not understand?)
I knew they were talking about me at least one point in the night when
his aunts started looking at me and whispering to their children. Then
the kids looked at me with big frightened eyes and hid behind their
parents. (Great. I now officially frighten babies.)
They all also laughed heartily at me when Y’s mom tried to teach me to
say “eat rice” in Chinese. (Something about sick fans?) Aaah, well. I
guess I’ve have to learn sooner than later. Y already knows how to say
“thank you” and “salted fish” in Vietnamese.
Anyway, we had to leave early as well. (Y likes to go as soon as the
food’s over.) We walked back to my car and for some reason, I
couldn’t help being so giddy. In the months we’ve been dating, I’d
never met any of Y’s extended family, save for the occassional cousin
or aunt. They’ve always remained a mystery to me, even though I know
they’re such a large and important part of his life. Maybe he wasn’t
consciously trying to keep me away. But it means something to me that
now I’ve met them and I’ve been allowed to see this part of his life.