We had planned our Malaysia trip for the end of June. There was a week’s window after classes end and before I leave China. In the main time, we tried not to think about our inevitable parting and focused on enjoying our time left.
Deciding to do long distance also took our relationship to a whole new level. We spoke of a joint future and talked about 5 year plans. He proposed that we live in Toronto. I pictured us on a yacht in Maui. Even the topic of kids passed by in conversation. Johan: 3 kids and 2 dogs. Me: 1 kid and a pet monkey. The only thing left to do was change my relationship status on facebook. Ooooh, that’s a big step… I should probably have a serious discussion with Johan first.
I realized that before I announce anything on social media, I should probably tell my parents first. My father regular stalks me on facebook; partly because he’s bored, and partly because he only has 6 friends. I figured he might appreciate finding out in person than through his newsfeed.
They were dropping by Shanghai for a brief visit and I knew this was my chance. It would be a first for me, since I never tell them anything about my love life. I was also nervous because I had no clue how supportive they would be. Johan didn’t exactly fit the ideal son-in-law category by Chinese standards of 高富帅 (ie. Tall Rich and Handsome). He was Brad Pitt to me, but he definitely wouldn’t be considered tall. He also wasn’t an accountant or lawyer, and in fact I’m not even sure they’ve heard of the social work degree.
It wasn’t gonna be an easy conversation.
So I decided to take them to an All-you-can-drink Teppanyaki.
As the food arrived, my parents brought up my love life between bites of eel. More specifically, they wanted to know about a guy.
His name was Jang and he was a family friend. Jang was my age and was doing a Phd in Atlanta. His mother, like all Chinese mothers, fretted about his singlehood at the age of (gasp) almost 30, approached my father about a potential set up. They gave him my Wechat awhile ago and he started messaging me. They didn’t explicitly tell me their intent, but I somehow doubted the guy just wanted a pen pal. I had zero interest in starting something with a stranger over the web, but being a family friend I also couldn’t ignore him completely. My attempt to be civil consisted of one-word answers, “Yeah”, “Thanks”, and when I’m really lazy, an obscure emoji.
He was not a dense fellow, and eventually got the message.
“I heard from Aunty Huang that he contacted you.” My dad probed as he sipped on warm sake.
“Yes” I resorted to my usual tactics, hoping to end the conversation soon.
“He said you seemed busy.”
“You know he’s quite an exceptional boy.”
This went on for awhile. A few shots of sake later, they only became more persistent.
“His mother really likes you! Why won’t you give him a chance?”
“Likes me? She’s never even met me!”
“She knows about your background and that you come from a good family.”
“How did I…When did I…Travel back to the 1920s???”
“He’s good looking, smart and hardworking. What’s the problem?”
“How about the fact that I’ve never even met the guy? Somehow I think a Wechat relationship is unlikely to bear you grandchildren.”I snorted to myself.
“We could invite him over during the summer…” But from the look in his eyes, he already did.
“Oh lord, please don’t…”
“You know you can’t be so picky at your age…”
“Why are so you against it?”
“Because if I date him, I would be a two-timing cheater.” I blurted out. “Because I already have a boyfriend, Ok?”
And that’s how my parents first found out about Johan.