I'll be leaving my wonderful, warm, rural home in Western Massachusetts (Northampton) next Thursday, 10/17, and not returning until the end of February. I'll be going to Madison, WI, St. Louis. MO, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, and San Jose, CA. Then returning via Chicago and Madison. Through all this, I'll probably have limited contact with BLH, so this is one of my parting thoughts for now.
All this occurred because my family is Chinese, and I know I'm going to catch hell from some people here for saying this (I'm still smarting from the Chinese translation thread.). But, it's true. When a Chinese says something to you, it's exactly like catching sight of an iceberg: believe me, you only see 10% of it.
So, here's what happened. But first, about my engagements and marriages.
Both times I got engaged, the second time to my Chinese wife, it really was just a matter of:
Me: "Hey. Wanna get married?"
Me: "OK, then. Hallelujah, or something."
The times I got married were a bit different from one another, because my first mother-in-law was a restaurant event-planner, and so this was a whole outdoor event, with music and drunk people and a shitload of really bad dancing. I caught hell for it years later, until the divorce, because I didn't visit every table and smile and say "hello" to people I had never met in my life, and would never see again. These were all Westerners, and by that I mean white people.
For my second marriage, to my current, Chinese, wife, we arranged for JP, and had the whole thing take place out in front of a dry fountain at the Northampton, MA old courthouse. We had maybe 6 people as guests, because they all lived within 20 minutes of the scene. I recited some Shakespeare, my soon-to-be wife cried, and then realized she'd forgotten her ring, so that would have scotched the ceremony. Fortunately, I had a spare in my coat pocket. And by this, I'm not kidding. I had a spare wedding ring in my coat pocket. I must have been quite an optimist when I put it there.
Then, she stopped crying, I finished botching Shakespeare, and most of these people scattered to do other things, so they wouldn't have to hang around with middle-aged newly-weds. And then most came back for the dinner and drinks. Then, I paid, and they all went home. Quickly.
So, what does this have to do with my travels this fall, you may ask? Or not. I realize that this has been a long preamble, with no promise of completion.
Well, here it is. I have a Chinese niece-in-law. She's in her 30s, has the personality and (to me) emotional maturity of Miley Cyrus (she tends to behave like that as well, i.e., she's a total ditz.). But, she's worked in Hong Kong banking, at Disney, and has amassed a substantial amount of money. So, she recently decided to marry this guy 25 years her senior (no problem from me there), after having decided in June of this year that the whole thing was over.
But, she can't just get engaged, I guess. She has to summon every relative, living or dead, to attend this "event." Now, what exactly are the rest of us supposed to do at an engagement party, when we're not one of the engaged? Experience their joy from afar? Absorb the whole experience? Record it in our memories, or on film, or both, so many years later, we can recount to our grandchildren that wondrous day we attended an engagement party for some people?
Anyway, to cut to the point, my wife asked me some months ago is I would agree to attend this engagement party in St. Louis. So, since my goal remains to appease my Chinese family, I said,
Me: "Uh, sure, I guess."
Her: "I'm so happy!"
Then, two months later, I discovered, and I mean "discovered," because this was not disclosed at once, but revealed piecemeal, that this "engagement party" actually included the wedding itself, which is to be in San Jose, CA. But, to get there, I will first have to get to Madison, WI. Then we will drive the unspeakably long trip to St. Louis, then after the "engagement party", we will drive back to Chicago, in order to catch a flight to San Francisco, to be picked up for a trip to San Jose for a wedding I don't give a flying f*ck about.
As I said, any negotiation with a Chinese is like the tip of an iceberg. And they will always, always say,
"I thought you understood that."
These are the Chinese.
So, I will be gone from my wonderful house for a few months, and I hope to check in with my wonderful neighbors at BLH as often as I can.