This novel reveals the truths about Asian culture, which will shock you!
|Yellow on the Outside, Shame on the Inside: Asian Culture Revealed - Chapter 2
As I pull into the garage, Jordan hastily reaches into the backseat for her mountain of books. It's obvious that she plans to walk into the house to present herself as a studious, diligent daughter, while I walk in empty-handed like a forlorn beggar on a rainy day. We get inside, and I immediately notice a myriad of new MCAT preparation books on the living room table, obviously driving the point home even further that my future career is completely controlled by my despotic parents and not by me—thanks, Mommy and Daddy!
“Johnson. Why you have no books?” Mommy inquires, with a dour and inquisitive look. “You no study?”
“Jordan studied hard for the both of us. I'll just live with her when she becomes a rich, successful doctor.”
“Don't make jokes. I want you study hard. You need make us proud,” Mommy scolds with affirmation.
“Yes, Mommy...I'll study hard so I can be a good doctor,” I reply apathetically.
I quickly scurry to my room, before she fires a fusillade of other potshots. I can sum up why Mommy and Daddy are the way that they are with one, single word: culture. Mommy and Daddy are from the old country; and their parents grew up in the old country; and their parents grew up in the same, old country. All of them pretty much grew up with the same antiquated ideology of culture, a culture based on austerity. Therefore, my parents are very stern and stubborn in their ways, more so than normal parents, if there is such a thing as normal parents.
Mommy and Daddy both grew up in a destitute village and had to work very hard to come to America, or so they would say. Mommy and Daddy always lectures me on how they've sacrificed so much to come here to America, for opportunity and success. I wonder if they've ever considered coming to America for freedom, since it's the land of the free and the home of the brave. Then again, with all the dumbing down these days, America's become the land of the sheep and the home of the slaves. But I just find it rather interesting that they didn't come to America for the freedom of religion; or for the freedom of speech; or for the freedom of assembly; or for the freedom of anything. In fact, I've never met an Asian parent that's ever mentioned coming to America for freedom, liberty, or patriotism. I've only heard Asian parents mention opportunity and success—opportunity to makes lots of money, their credence for success. It's quite obvious that they came to America just to make money, since in the end, it's always about the money.
Basically, the truth is that Asians would never move to America, if there were no opportunities to make lots of money. The sole purpose of their lives is to “follow the money.” This posit—a word in which no normal person would know unless they've been forced to suffer countless hours of after-school SAT classes—is the first of what I call my Asian Pride Theorems, starting with money, then status, and finally, power.
With just my three simple Asian Pride Theorems, I can reveal the truth about Asian culture—whether it's Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.—and all the reasons why Asians do the things that they do. First, Asians are obsessed with money and will do anything to get it. Second, money is conducive to the status that Asians seek, hence “doctor or lawyer.” Third and uppermost, Asians want power: the power to control, the power to influence, the power to persuade, the power for attention, the power over relationships—these “personal powers” do not seem like a big deal (since they're not exactly big powers like governmental or corporate power) but trust me when I say that they're everything to Asians. I know that it's hard to believe what I'm saying, that smart, straight-A, hardworking Asians can be so devious and diabolical. But just give me a chance with this backstage pass to my life and you can see everything for yourself.
Anyway, what's even worse is that my parents changed their religion from Buddhism to Christianity, just so that they could fit in with our church-obsessed neighbors—talk about selling out! Their explanation is that they're minorities and need to do whatever it takes to get ahead, including switching religions; regardless, I know they sold out.
Speaking of minorities, the majority of people here in California are actually comprised of minorities, not Caucasian. And as everyone knows, Native Americans were here first when they massively outnumbered early European settlers, so technically, Caucasians were minorities—even by virtue of blood. The vast majority of Caucasians in America have mixed blood: Jewish blood, Spanish blood, Native American blood, and even African blood. Also, don't you find it ironic that the word Asian is mixed into the word, Caucasian? Summarily, by virtue of blood, Caucasians are minorities just like the rest of us. But since there has to be a class of elites and a class of peons, I guess we'll have to be the minorities—even though Caucasians were here second just like the rest of us. And since we're the minorities, we've been emblematically segregated as Asian Americans, African Americans, and even Jewish Americans, but the strange thing is that I've never heard of Caucasian Americans. More importantly, why can't we all just be called Americans, since all of us are, after all, Americans?
My parents wouldn't care, though, since they only care about on money, status, and power—big surprise! I remember last summer when my parents purchased a new BMW 550i, because the outdated BMW 3 series that we had was exactly that—outdated. They explained that we, as a family, needed to “keep up” with the rest of the residents in our neighborhood, in order to stay competitive. If that isn't a good enough reason to buy a 550i, I don't know what is—I love sarcasm.
So let's say that we really are competing with our neighbors and the rest of the residents in Irvine. Who set up the competition then? Who are all the contestants? Do they even know what they're competing for? Oh, that's right: status, the second of my Asian Pride Theorems. They're competing to see who is on top of the “suburban food chain.” Let's say, hypothetically, that my family's on top. Now what? Do we get a trophy? Do we get a lifetime supply of ass-kissing from other Irvine residents? We don't get crap. Actually, what we get—unbeknownst to my parents—is people talking behind our backs and people spreading gossip. I'm sure they're all saying, “Look at Johnson's family buying that BMW 550i, trying to show us up.”
I often wonder what would happen to all these pretentiously arrogant people here in Irvine, if—or actually when—the big earthquake comes; it can happen at anytime since all of California is on a goddamn fault line. Then their opulent homes, expensive cars, and every precious, material possession would be lost at a moment's whim; would they still be “on top” then? These pretentiously arrogant people are just like everyone else. They have to put on a pair of pants, one leg at a time, just like everyone else; they have to take the same nasty shit in the toilet, just like everyone else. The only difference is that they have an extra electronic digit in their bank account—whoop-de-do! I don't see why it's so special to be “on top.”
Also, I find it rather ironic that we had to buy our vainglorious BMW 550i from a dealer, so in essence, the dealer would be “on top”; but then the dealer had to get his line of BMW's from the person who owns all of BMW; then the person who owns all of BMW is required to pay taxes, fees, and other expenses to another person “on top.” So even if you go to the very top—say for example, the king—it's still not the top. How many kings have fallen throughout the history of human civilization? Last I checked, kings—and queens—of our current day and age, only have purely ceremonial roles and no governmental power. Britain's Prime Minister has more power than the Queen, same with Norway, even Thailand. I guess that means no one really is “on top.” It's all illusory perception that's completely—and ultimately—bullshit.
An unexpected knock comes at my door. I guess the parental unit is ready for another verbal onslaught. The door opens even before I can say “Come in”—so much for privacy.
“Johnson. You go to Palo Alto this weekend. Your Auntie miss you very much. You never visit,” Daddy commands firmly, with a noticeably condescending tone. I guess it's Daddy's turn to play “bad cop.” Then again, neither of my parents ever plays “good cop.”
“Why can't Jordan go? She goes to school up there and Auntie likes her better anyway.” Auntie really likes Jordan more—a hell of a lot more.
“Jordan see Auntie all the time. You need be good and go.”
“But I have plans this weekend!” I really don't have any plans, but sitting at home doing nothing is much better than having Asian relatives criticize you.
“You have new plan. Go see Auntie,” Daddy shoots back, giving me a serious, stone-cold look—that can't be good. I usually give up whenever he gives me that look.
“Yes, Daddy,” I confirm unwillingly. And then I consider inviting my best friend Gabriel, since best friends are suppose to suffer with you.
“Can I ask Gabriel to come since it'll be a long drive?” Gabriel and I grew up together here in Irvine. He has to deal with the same shit that I have to deal with, except he doesn't give a damn, or at least, he plays it off like he doesn't.
“Gabriel Aoki is bad,“ Daddy scolds, very harshly, “and very bad influence on you. You two always go play and never do homework. He never care about straight A. He just like you.” Here he goes again with the straight A's.
“Why are you always talking about straight A's? It's obvious that you only want Jordan and me to get straight A's so that you can brag to all your friends about how much better your kids are than their's.”
“Not true! I care about you and Jordan future.” Yeah, right; I'm sure we've all heard this before.
“You only care about comparing us with all your friends' sons and daughters and bragging about who gets the best grades. I'm not stupid,” I say smugly, feeling pretty damn good for calling him out.
“You always talk back! Jordan never talks back. She very good...not like you.”
“Fine. I'll get straight A's...only if you learn how to drive. I swear, it's because of you that everyone thinks Asian people can't drive.”
I could tell that Daddy is a little hesitant on how to reply. He finally musters, “I drive very safe. Not crazy like Americans.”
“Sure, Daddy,” I reply sarcastically. “If you say so. It's funny how Asian people can solve complex math problems like differential calculus and get perfect SAT scores with our eyes closed, yet, we can't drive worth a damn.” I might as well have a little fun arguing, since there's no chance of me winning this one.
Daddy shakes his head, sighing with reproach. “I no want argue. You be good when you see Auntie...not like you bad now.”
A gust of wind blows right into my eyes as Daddy slams the door violently behind him; I know that door won't make it past my graduation with all this arguing. But arguments like this one are typical in my loving, caring family; they happen all the time and they never seem to end. I really wish I could live somewhere far away, perhaps Timbuktu, which is in Mali. I know this because I'm Asian; we're suppose to know everything. But if I know everything, then why don't I know much about my parents and their strict, bizarre behavior? Like how my parents don't sleep in the same bed even though they've been married for what seems like “Four score and seven years ago.” And it's not just me; it's the same with Gabriel's parents. My parents argue and fight to the point to where a divorce is imminent, however, can't divorce because of custom, and more importantly, “saving face” in the Asian community, as well as “saving face” back in their native country. Saving face refers to always maintaining a good image in spite of bad circumstances. So instead of divorce, the next best thing is to sleep in separate beds and in separate rooms, so that they can get eight hours of sleep alone—aka personal paradise—and re-energize themselves for the remaining sixteen hours together—aka hell.
I told Gabriel about my “separate bed, separate room” theorem a while back and he agreed indubitably. In fact, he reciprocated with a story about the strict, bizarre Asian behavior of child swapping. If a child of one Asian family performs poorly in school, then that family will swap its child with another child, typically from a relative. This can be thought of as a military school program, to strengthen and discipline both children into exceedingly exceptional students. With all this swapping, Asian parents should become swingers themselves—stupid joke, I know.
Because of these types of strict, bizarre behaviors, it's no wonder that there's a lack of affection in Asian families. Most people don't know this, but it's very uncommon for Asian parents to hug their kids; and it's extremely rare for Asian parents to kiss their kids.
I remember hanging out with Joe Romig, an old friend of mine, back in the eighth grade. I would always go to his house after school, because his mom would make the most delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. Food is every boy's weakness—just ask any girl. I don't recall doing much at Joe's house, but the one thing that always caught my eye was his mom kissing him on both cheeks, then his forehead, then embracing him with a very tender hug. I got scared the first time Joe's mom hugged me; it felt awkward because I wasn't use to it. I was use to getting hit by my parents whenever I did something wrong. Hell, I even got hit for just thinking something wrong.
I almost start to cry whenever I reminisce. Most of my past memories involve my parents spanking me with an old feather duster. A feather duster is a thin, rigid stick made from yellow bamboo, with endless brown and black chicken feathers sprouting from the middle to the top. Of course, it's suppose to be used for dusting dirt, but instead it's used for dusting the asses of Asian kids—bad and good. You're not truly Asian until you've gotten your ass whipped with a feather duster; it's a very sick and disturbing rite of passage for Asian kids. I don't get spanked anymore, much to my regret, but I still see that damn feather duster up above the mantle of the fireplace in the living room. My parents like to keep it there as a constant reminder of how I need to fear and obey, kind of like Tamerlane with his pyramid of human skulls, built as a reminder for his enemies to fear and obey. My parents really are like Tamerlane. But at least I had it better than Gabriel. His parents spanked him with a damn ping-pong paddle! We all know that Asians are good at ping-pong so I guess his parents wanted to get in a little practice—maybe practice their spin technique on Gabriel's ass!
Just looking at that old feather duster reminds me of severe spankings: feathers flying off then falling very slowly, simultaneously with the tears from my eyes, every time I received a lick. Spanking was pretty much the only affection that I've ever received from my parents. Every time I got spanked, I would remember Joe's mom hugging me. I've never told my parents about Joe's mom hugging me. They wouldn't care anyway. Asian parents like to use the excuse that hugging and kissing would make their kids soft, like “those Americans”—aka “White Americans.” Asians typically view “those Americans” as lazy, spoiled, and stupid—funny how they only say this behind their backs. It's also funny how they say "those Americans," yet, they themselves are Americans, even though they don't consider themselves to be. This goes to show that they didn't come to America for freedom, liberty, or patriotism but instead, just for the opportunity to make lots of money.
Anyway, my parents don't want Jordan and me to grow up weak, with all that hugging and kissing. But I don't think that it's weak for parents to show a little emotion and affection. In fact, I think it would actually help make things better. I think Asian families would be a lot more caring and nurturing and not so uncommunicative and distant. So instead of focusing so much on money, they should perhaps focus on compassion and love. After all, Asians can love money as much as they want, but money never loves back. Anyway, I don't think a hug is too much to ask; I really don't. I could honestly care less about a big house, a nice car or all the money in the world. All I really want from my parents is a hug.
Please go to: Asian Culture Revealed - Chapter 3 http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1511764