Since people are reporting the old links don't work, I've posted the older stories here. Be sure to thank M-wolverine for saving all these.
Part 1, Awkwardly Met My Future In Laws:
Warning: It's long. If your attention span is short, move along.
So I met my girlfriend's family last night. This was fairly awkward for a number reasons:
1. They neglected to alert her to the fact they thought it would be great to
2A. They didn't know she had a boyfriend
2B. Especially a white one.
3. They also didn't know we live together.
So a little background here. My girlfriend is Korean and over here for some upper level education. Her parents assume, or well assumed, she was getting a degree from a top American school and then returning to South Korea to teach at some top school, as that is typically what you do. To become a faculty member at any of the good Korean schools you basically need to spend some time at a top Western school.
However in Korea women make about 30% less then men and are typically expected to exit the workforce and raise children. It's a fairly big problem over there, a lot of 30 something women are refusing to have kids because they don't want to become stay at home moms and the Korean government is somewhat worried about where the next generation is going to come from.
Anyway the differences in culture led my girlfriend to decide that immigration is the way to go. Over here she'll only make 15% less than me, progress enh? Family dynamics are tricky over there, you don't buck your parents authority, so she's kept them in the dark on a few things, namely me. It worked well for awhile, she flew home once a year to visit and otherwise we figured with the world's largest ocean and most of continental United States between us and them we thought the odds of a surprise visit were low. After she graduates we'll be getting engaged, so we figured we'd just wait to then to introduce me to the parents and going through the inevitable fallout of "You're marrying who and living where…?" could occur.
So last night I'm at home, drinking and doing laundry because thats how I roll when I hear a knock on the door. I open the door and standing there are 3 generations of Koreans. As I look at them I'm having this little warning bell going off in my head *I've seen these people before somewhere…*. They're also rather confused, as they flew 18 hours and had a 12 hour time zone shift . They just punched their daughter's mailing address into a GPS and showed up to surprise their daughter. They got some guy who is holding a beer and looking confused. Welcome to America!
At first they thought they had the wrong address and asked me where [MY ADDRESS] was. So we go through a little routine where I'm explaining to them they're at the right address and they're convinced they're at the wrong address, because they're looking for their daughter, not a white dude boozing it up. As they're going through this I finally connect the faces of the parents and her younger sister to the family photos my girlfriend has on the shelves in the living room.
My brain kind of locked up for a moment. I'm suddenly aware of the fact our place is not very neat right now, we have a number of empties on the counter in the kitchen and most importantly: these people have no idea I'm sleeping with their daughter and her dad is some kind of officer in the Korean Army. *He's had years of training on how to kill people, this is so awesome.*
So I very reluctantly ask them "Are you [her name]'s family?" This gets me some confused looks, but yes indeed they are. All I can really do is just say "Well she lives here too." I invite them in and get the gf on the cellphone. They're looking all over the place, really confused. Her sister spots some photos of the gf and me and points them out to her family. The gf is off at library and of course thinks I'm messing with her. I hand the cellphone off to her father, who says "Hi" and "What the hell is this white boy doing in your apartment?'. I take the opportunity to lock the dogs in basement and also do my best to covertly move some things out of sight as well. For example, even if you figure you're safe from parental/older relative visits, never leave out the photos of you and your gf doing a beer bong together.
The gf rushes home and does her best to explain to mom, dad and three of her grandparents how she'd neglected to mention her boyfriend of over two years and her living arrangement and the surprise bonus of not only is she dating someone but she's dating one of those creepy, white ginger kids. Given the expressions of everyone involved it didn't go very well. We took them all on a quick tour of Ann Arbor / Campus and then they back to their hotel to turn in early because of jet lag.
I am needless to say not popular with her family right now. I don't know much of it is personal and how much of it is "We just had a 18 hour flight just to discover you're living with a guy." Her dad rather unsubtly asked me about my family's economic background and my level of education and he at least seemed to like the answers. I'm not dead yet, so I have that going for me.
Also the night wasn't a total write-off for this little gem:
Girl Friend's 16 Y/O Sister [In Korean]: Is it true what they say about
white guys having bigger 'equipment'?
GF: I've spent the past two years teaching him Korean, I bet he understood
*Sister Turns Bright Red, Looks Over at me*
GF: And yes.
The other one is horribly stereotypical, but amusing comment:
Me: This is the University hospital, where I work.
Mother: *face brightens* Oh are you a doctor?
Mother: *fall falls* Oh.
So they'll be staying for two weeks. Umh, hooray?
Part 2: Adventures in Korean Facebook (Cyworld) Stalking:
So I'm still alive. I've had limited interaction with the family, last night and this morning. I'm talking a half day from work on Friday and that will be the big day, followed by parent on parent action this weekend. I'll update you guys with that on Monday or whenever I can type up something good.
In mean the time, my gf and I have been Facebook stalking her little sister.. It's not actual Facebook, its the Korean version of it, but she doesn't have privacy settings up and we've been reading her status feed as a way of seeing how the parents are taking it.
Quick Bio on Lil Sister: Sixteen years old. She was the 'unplanned' child. Her parents had three kids, all within ten years of each other and then though they were done. Well 11 years later, Lil Sis shows up. Her parents are old enough they could potentially be her grandparents and rather boring by this point, even more so by teenage standards. Lil Sis is kept on a short leash following some trouble last year for public intoxication in Hong Kong (she was 15 at the time). So mom and dad watch her like a hawk and brought her along. She is armed with a LG smartphone that has a keyboard and an internet connection, so her gossip is fed directly back to Korea. I think she's supposedly to be in school, yet she's over here right now. Not sure how that works.
So without further ado, Lil Sis's status feed:
"He's WHITE and they live together!"
[numerous replies along the lines of "wf are you talking about?"]
"We're in America to visit my sister! She has a white boyfriend and they live together. She never told my parents!"
[Various commentary on this. One little shithead calls my gf for a slut for sleeping with a white guy. Is instantly gang banged by numerous Korean girls going "We sleep with white guys because they don't treat us like shit like Korean guys do." After giving him a good old fashion internet beat down the girls move on to important topics. ]
"Yes he tall, but he's pale. Really pale. It's okay though, he's not fat"
[She posts a bunch of photos of me, my dogs, my car, our apartment, all covertly taken with her camera phone. This prompts discussion on how tall I am, if I'm cute or not. I might have been biased when counting votes, but I'd say 65%+ of the votes ranked me as attractive. One girl asks if I have a younger brother.]
…longer break, this next batch of posts comes from after we dropped them off at their hotel...
"I just heard my mom swear for the first time ever! I don't get why they're mad. He's cute, went to college and my sister says he is good in bed. His car is really big too, he must be rich!"
"Grandpa [maternal side] is really mad. He wanted her to marry a grandson of his friend. My sister is in so much trouble!"
[This arranged marriage provokes negative comments. It appears some of the people consider this guy to be a loser. I liked the comment "I don't know him, but he if needs a grandparent to get a date he must be worse than Lee Jin-gyu]
"They have a heated pool here! I didn't bring a bathing suit but I'm going swimming when my parents fall asleep! So many cute guys! =)"
[If Lil Sis does come to America for college, its going to be one hell of a rebellion.]
Part 3: AA and Hockey
Sorry for not posting any updates, I’ve been a bit busy. The worst/weirdest thing over the past few days must have been the “exotic food” talk my girlfriend got on Thursday, at least for her. She’d gone out to walk the dogs, mostly an excuse to get outside and escape everyone. I was off at work and her grandparents were checking out our apartment. Her maternal grandfather had asked her point blank “Why is there only one bed in here? You’re not married.” Anyway her mom decided to come along on the walk. As they’re walking her mom launches into this really tortured metaphor, which I’ll paraphrase:
“You know honey, it’s normal to be attracted to exotic things. Sometimes when I want something exotic I’ll get some Japanese food or some Mexican food because it is different and exotic, but at the end of the day I find eating a nice Korean meal is more pleasant and easier on the stomach.”
The moral to the story is, date within your own race, it’s easier on the stomach.
Over the past few days we’ve hit up Saigon Garden, Blue Karaoke (since everything there is in Korean) and the Taste of Taiwan Night Market over in the East Hall on Friday. If you didn’t go on Friday, you missed a great event. Five dollars for dinner, three snack tables, a dessert table and skill games. I stole the show in the chopsticks challenge. You had to move metal marbles with your chopsticks and I pretty much destroyed all comers, including the gf’s father. He got 4 marbles, I got 11. Finished the night off at Momo Tea playing Go Stop, a traditional Korean card game. Her grandmother dominated all comers in that.
Things went well, on Thursday it was dinner and karaoke with some Korean friends, including a married couple that teaches here. They kept the conversation focused on all the various Korean cultural things that go down around here. Ranging from the grocery stores to the film and lecture series that Center for Korean Studies runs. Sadly the Korean Students Association event for this month is bowling (I assume traditional Korean bowling in Ypsi, complete with rednecks one lane over drinking Bud Light and watching NASCAR, just like in Seoul), but the Taste of Taiwan thing made a pretty good substitute. To be fair, she’s not active in KSA (we neglected to tell her parents that), so I have no idea what their events are like.
The biggest drama point on Thursday / Friday was the grandfathers. They were amusing themselves by testing my knowledge of the Korean language. One of them would ask me a question, using weird syntax and big words and then as I was figuring out what he said, the other one would ask me something. Then they’d stare at me like I was an idiot while I trigged to figure what just got said. I normally had the second speaker to repeat what he said. After this did this a few times my gf got up in their faces and called them out for doing it. She went on a little rant about how their poor manners reflected poorly on her. She even managed to sneak in a little comment about how my family never tested her knowledge of English and it embarrasses her that her family has worse manners than mine. I thought things were about to go nuclear at that point, but her grandparents backed down. They didn’t apologize, but they toned it down and most importantly they backed down and didn’t argue with her. In private her father later apologized to me and said he’d speak to them about it as well.
After doing some Asian culture on Thursday and Friday, we moved over to embrace some American culture, namely hockey. Saturday during the day was introducing them to my parents, everyone walking on eggshells a bit type of thing. Then we sat her family down and called up the DVRed Wings vs Wild game and started to cover the basic concepts of hockey. We both play and her parents had seen our six million sticks (give or take a few million) littering the apartment. They were impressed by the speed of the game and shocked by the hits. Right after a rather vicious one her mother looks over at my gf and goes “You play that sport?!!?” We tried to explain there is a major difference between our caliber of play and the caliber of the Red Wings, but everyone seemed shocked my gf played and hadn’t been snapped in half. My mother also didn’t help:
My mom: “I know, really. Everyime I see my son play I’m worried he’s going
to get hurt. You know he’s hurt his knee four times in seven years.”
Me: *glares at my mom, clears throat*
My mom: “He had to wear a brace one time and….”
Me: I’m going to the kitchen for a drink, anyone need a refill? *glares at
mom, my dad elbows her while everyone is looking at me*
Things started to get interesting during the Bemidji State game. Started off pretty tame, everyone in the living room, with some extra chairs dragged in, a bunch of snacks ranging from Gimbap to Doritos. Gimbap is basically Korean sushi, although the contents of it are normally cooked (Gim = dried seaweed, Bap = steamed white rice, just add some pickled radish, seasoned beef, crab, etc and you’re in business). Her family was impressed when I actually made some all by myself.
The bad was the tequila came out. I’m a tequila whore, I have an entire cupboard of tequilas (I love blue agave tequila the most, but they’re all good). I actually used to have one cupboard for tequila and one cupboard for non-tequila liquor. More recently the overflow from the tequila cupboard has been invading the other liquor cupboard. I should build a little Alamo and put the vodka and whiskey in it. So we mixed up some margaritas and figured it might do well enough for everyone to have a mixed drink, just one mind you, enough to be a bit of a social lubricant.
Well my girlfriend is kind of stressed out right now. I worked a full day on Thursday and a half day on Friday, so she was alone in the shark tank with the parents for those time periods and getting badgered. She’s running short on sleep and just generally a little ball of nerves right now. On her way into the kitchen to grab some more food, a soda, whatever I guess she was also taking pulls off the fifth of tequila to calm down. By pulls I mean she killed about a half a fifth of tequila in one and a half periods of hockey, plus two margaritas.
Midway through the second period she comes back out from the kitchen, now seating it tight, she was kind of squished in her mom and sister on one of the couches before she got up. I had a crappy little Ikea chair all to myself for most of the game. She walks over and plops down in my lap, puts her arms around my neck and buries her face in my chest, since she tends to get rather cuddly when drunk.
Now there is just silence in the room for a moment. Everyone is looking at us, my parents quickly look away and over at the TV, although you can see my dad’s expression going “Oh shit.” Lil Sis is raising up her camera phone, but her mother swats it down. I’m looking at her like “Are you trying to get me killed?”. She’s my girlfriend, so I can’t exactly shove her out of my lap and be like “Go sit with your mom”, but her entire family is just staring at us. Aside from hugging each other when we met after work, this is the most PDA they’ve seen between us.
Now my girlfriend kind of lifts her head up, gives me a peck on the cheek and goes “You’re kind of stiff, do you want a back massage later?” She then grabs my left arm and pulls it around her shoulders, closes her eyes and starts to drift off. She’s pretty out of it by this point. I figure “Well it’s not like they can unsee this, full speed ahead.” So I spend the rest of the Bemidji game with her using me as a pillow. She’s like a little angel when she sleeps, a little angel that started drooling on my shirt with 8 minutes to go in the third. She slept through a lot of it, something she’d normally never do during a Michigan sporting event, but like I said she hasn’t been getting much sleep recently. On Wednesday night we were up to 4 am. I think she actually faked falling asleep because she felt guilty since I wouldn’t go sleep as long she was up and I had work the next day. Once I dropped off I think she got up and went out for a run with the dogs at like 5 am. Then came home, crashed and was up to see me out the door at 7 am and then to hang out with her family.
So after the Bemidji game, her family said their goodnights and got out of their rather quickly. I think they just had no idea how to act to their daughter behaving that way, drunk in their presence and rather direct in contact with me. It’s changed and PDA is more common in urban Korea now, but with the parent’s and grandparent’s generations, you didn’t even hold the hand of your wife in public.
*The Dong Punch of Dong Punches*
Since the weather on Sunday was so terrible. We were restricted to indoor activities, we had a nice long conversation about my dad’s car. Her family was impressed by it and seemed to take it as a positive sign of my family’s economic standing. So my dad and her dad talked cars and got to know each other. We also prepped for the Miami of Ohio game in style. My dad brought over a big party tray of wings, which were a hit with everyone. I made up nachos, got a fire going and figured we’d do this in style. My girlfriend spent the entire game hanging out with me (or on me). At one point she was sitting my lap and feeding me a wing, while giving her parents a look basically daring them to say something. When I needed a beer she’d get up and grab it for me (since she was on my lap she had to move anyway). I’m thinking “You know, you guys are really welcome to visit whenever you want. Hell, you guys should come out for all the football games next year.”
Then came the Great Dong Punch of 2010, the one where Angry Michigan Hating God awoke from his torpor and violated me in ways I did not know I could still be violated. First overtime, 17:23. We should have been on the phone buying tickets at that point, but instead Angry Michigan Hating God bent over the largest alumni base in the world and had his way with us. “Oh I missed a spot after The Horror? You mean after making you stand through 3-9 and 5-7 in the student section I can still inflict further trauma upon you? Here, let me take care of that.”
There was some good from this, my gf was worked up by now, we both were amped up. There was that early fluke in the 3rd, where the Miami shot bounced off the post and we’d been pumped ever since then. She was in my lap, we threw our arms around each other, I stood up, we’re both cheering, we kiss and as I’m looking past her at the TV…
I SEE THE FUCKING REF WAVING IT OFF!!!!!!!!!! *RAAAAAAGEEEEE*
She’s out of my arms now, unloading her multilingual swearing capacity at the TV, I’m working through my mastery of English obscenities. Her family is staring at us as if we’ve both gone insane, my mother is also yelling at the TV. Okay the play is under review, we calm down, they show the replays. Puck in the net, great, here we come……what the hell, whistle? What kind of shit is this?
Her dad is getting into this. He’s gotten the basics of hockey, puck in the net equals a goal. Look you dumbass refs, even the guy who just learned the rules last night get this. Put the point up and send us to Detroit. But as we all know, Michigan Hating God wins in the end.
There is a silver lining though. I caught just the tail end of the conversation about us, it was between her father and his father. They’d gone outside to smoke and were discussing how passionate her daughter is about all this, how she never acted like this in Korea. They might not be thrilled by it, but it sounded like they also understood in some ways she was too Americanized to just happily throw it all away, move back to Seoul and go the traditional route. Given the fact she stood up to her grandparents and some of the things like that, her dad seems to feel this is an actual relationship, not just her doing a white guy for the hell of it.
I also found out her paternal grandfather thinks I’m not a real man, because I let her boss me around and a real man wouldn’t take that kind of shit. You never hear good stuff about yourself when you eavesdrop. Her dad though did stand up for me a bit and say he didn’t think I had a weak spine, just that I “spoiled” her. All I can say to that is, she freaking sat in my laptop and fed me wings for the entire hockey game, she even deboned them for me first..
Who exactly is spoiling who here?
The other good news is my parents have offered to stay in town for awhile, so while I’m at work they’ll hang out with the gf and her family and give her a bit of break from any more of those “easier on the stomach” lectures. Her mother definitely does not approve of me so far.
We’re still setting up stuff for this week, so I don’t know when I’ll have time to post next, but it’s likely going to be hitting up some of the Asian things in this area and showing that their daughter isn’t rejecting her parents’ culture, so much as becoming multicultural and she’ll have plenty of exposure to Korean culture even if she lives over here. I think she is planning to crash some Korean Studies classes this week, so if you’re in one and a family of Koreans walks in, feel free to flirt up the little sister. When she posts photos of you on Cyworld I’ll let you know how the voting goes.
In some ways we’ve made some progress, her standing up to her parents, me showing I’m at least somewhat up on Korean culture and things like that. The downside is her parents are used to her doing what they say. When she goes back to Seoul they impose a curfew on her (she is in her late 20s), tell her which friends she can hang out with and things like that. That’s always been how things worked in Seoul, she lived with her parents and did what they said. Over here, she’s starting to dig into her heels. It’s kind of like she had dual personalities, a standard college student one when in Ann Arbor and more of a child one where she obeyed her parents when in Seoul. Her parents are just meeting this other her for the first time in. After Bemidji when I mentioned that PDA might have been a bit of a shock to her parents, she went off on how she’ll do whatever she wants with her boyfriend in our apartment, which likely prompted the sitting in my lap on Sunday. So it’s a good sign for me, but we’ll see how it plays out when she tells her parents get lost when they try to her what to do.
This is getting long, like pushing 4 pages in Word, so I'm going to end it here. I have some background drama about what prompted the parents visit and some erroneous assumptions they made and I'll get that in Part 4.
Part 4: The Drama Part
So sadly my gf’s dad is gone. Depending on how much you read the international news, you may or may not know that a South Korean warship sank recently. It and another ship were up patrolling near North Korea and the ship either hit a mine or had an internal explosion and sank. North Korea is also threatening to nuke South Korea, but that’s just business as usual when Kimmy Jong Il forgets to take his meds. Between the two events though the South Korean military is on a high enough alert the father has to fly back and report to his unit.
So I gave him a ride out to Metro, just him, the gf and me in my car. As we’re going along he’s talking about how South Korean cars are catching up with American cars and he has one of the fast new sport coups with the 2.8 Liter Engine. I don’t say anything about that, but as we’re merging from US-23 onto I-94, I put my foot down and give my V8 full throttle and come blazing down the merge ramp like a bat out of hell. I glanced over and had the satisfaction of watching the father grab the door handle in a death grip, white knuckles and all. Long story short, no more comments on how much power a 2.8 Liter I4 produces.
The lack of the father has been a major setback to Ginger-Korean relations. The father appeared to like me, I’m invited over to Korea this summer to spend time with the family since he had to cut his visit short. So either he likes me, or he figures it’s easier to dump my body when he has home field advantage. With the father gone, the mother has revealed her inner bitch and her dislike of me. Well always knew she didn’t like me, but with the father gone she no longer appears to have a moderating influence.
On Thursday we’re walking around campus and she goes:
Her: “Does the sun hurt your eyes?”
Me: “No, I’m fine. Why?”
Her: “Well you have such big eyes, it must be very bright.”
Me [thinking, not saying]: *Was that supposed to be an insult or are you
just that clueless?*
Her: “Look at all these Chinese girls around here. There are so many of
them. I bet no one minds when the Americans date the extra ones.”
She always points any Asian couples she sees and how happy they look.
We hit the boiling point on Thursday. I have Thursday and Friday off work to hang with everyone, so we’re walking from a coffee shop on State over to the Diag. Right in that area between NatSci and Angell. Her mother accosts a pair of Asian guys walking along as well:
Her: “Excuse me, are you Korean?”
One Guy: “I am, my friend is from Taiwan, do you need help with something?”
[Likely thinking she needed help translating something.]
Her: “Oh no, I just wanted to show her she could find a cute Korean boy here
if she took the time to look.”
My gf slams her coffee down on the sidewalk and glares at her mother: “Yes mother, I must be insane to live in America and date a white boy, instead of living in Seoul with you.”
The guys are getting the hell out of the conversation at this point. Without missing a beat the mother turns and slaps my gf across the face. Full on snap her face to one side, giant red mark. I put myself between the mother and my gf. The mother has her hand up like she was going to hit her daughter again, I just step in, crossing my arms over my chest.
Silence as we just stare at each other for a moment, her face is livid, but I’m 5’ 11” and she’s 5’ 3”. So she can’t exactly shove me out of the way and go after her daughter again. I finally speak (in Korean, using the phrasing that suggests I’m talking a child/inferior, as opposed to the politer ones I should be using):
“We might never get along. I’m fine with that. What you don’t want though is
for me to be mad at you, and if I ever see you hit [name] or hear that you
hit [name], we are going to have a major problem and I am going to get mad.
Do we have an understanding?”
After a few moments she lowers her hand and steps back. My gf just turns bright red and gets out of there. All this went down in front of my parents and some people that happened to be up early. I catch up with her by the Fishbowl and she’s crying because my parents saw this all and will think she has a dysfunctional family, because now her mom will always hate me (as long as she also fears me I can work with it) and all that. Fun little emotional rollercoaster, she goes from crying, to giving me a slap for being so stupid, to kissing me for standing up for her. Estrogen is a hell of a drug..
I text my parents that I’m bailing out, so they go off suit shopping. Her family also breaks off and I drag my girlfriend off to the Arb to enjoy the weather. Nice day away from everyone and we hook back up with the folks (both sides) in the later afternoon.
We worked Lil Sister over for intelligence later on. Interestingly enough the maternal grandmother laid the smack down on her daughter (the mother) for acting like that in public. Part of what Lil Sister repeated went like this:
“I am embarrassed any child of mine would be such a poor parent she would
need to hit her adult daughter in public.”
Mother: “How dare he do that, challenge me when I was disciplining my
child…*rant rant rant*”
Maternal Grandmother: “Well if someone hit me, you would defend me, wouldn’t
you? [Looks at her husband]”
Maternal Grandfather: …
Maternal Grandmother: “Oh I see, you would let the person beat me. At least
my granddaughter knows her man will protect her.”
It appears grandma at least approves of the intervention. I also caught up with the father on the phone, his take on it was: “I’ve told my wife before she hits the children much too frequently.” I guess since I didn’t actually touch his wife, we have no beef. No apologies from the mother, or from me and she’s tending to avoid me at dinner and things like that, walks on the other side of the group.
So at this point I’m not sure if I’m going to try to patch things up with the mother, if that’s even possible, or just roll with the “You hate me, you fear me, but you know I will end you up if you hit my gf again” kind of deal.
On a lighter note, Lil Sister vs Dogs:
So Lil Sis was raiding my ‘fridge for food and pulled out the smoked salmon, the crack of the canine world, at least for my dogs. She instantly has a pair of man’s best friends in the kitchen and they want her to share. She takes a piece of salmon and holds it above their heads going “Awww you want the fish, puppies want the fish?” Corin starts to rise up to get it and she lifts it up out of reach, or so she thinks.
Corin is 112 pounds last we checked and can put his paws on my shoulders. Lil Sis is like 5’ and 100 lbs tops. Corin drops back down, looks at her for a moment and then jumps up again. He puts one paw on each shoulder and pushes her down onto her rear. She sits down with a little thump and her eyes get real big, Corin grabs the fish from her hand and trots off. In America, dog eat you.
Theodora, proving she is the smartest of the bunch yet again, waited until everyone was engrossed in Lil Sis vs Corin, grabbed the package of salmon off the counter and headed for the basement. Oddly enough, Lil Sis has yet to update her Cyworld and mention she got taken out by a pair of malamutes.
So you guys have a great weekend. I have tomorrow off, in theory to enjoy the weather and my guests, but I’m sure y’all will have a better day thanme. Right now the GF is “working her thesis” in the office, which judging from the sound of it is actually venting to her older sister on the phone. Once she gets done with that I think we’ll be drinking.
Part 5: Detroit and Oakland County
So yeah I kind of fell off the radar hunh? Sorry about that. Well after everything went down we kind of decided to get out of town on a last minute idea. Packed the camping gear, the dogs and a lot of booze into the car and headed for New Mexico where I have some family. Left the car at their place and hiked around up in the Guadalupe Mountains for awhile and enjoyed being totally off the radar and the grid. Just the two of us and the dogs, nice and relaxing. SO I was totally gone and out of touch from all things electronic for awhile. My apologies.
Highlights of the trip:
Pulled over for doing 25 over the speed limit (really New Mexico, why do you even bother with speed limits?). Girlfriend is driving, she begins sobbing, adopts a really heavy accent and actually drops the line Dishonor my famiry. New Mexican sheriff deputy is not emotionally equipped to deal with a sobbing Asian girl. He apologizes (!!!) for pulling her over, makes me take the wheel and has me promise not let her drive again. He apologizes to her a second time, tries to cheer her up and returns to his cruiser. She spends the next hour bitching about having to fix her makeup and yelling at me for hitting bumps while she's curling her eye lashes or some shit.
Texas cops had no problem dropping a ticket for 15 over on my ass though. Although maybe if I'd turned on the waterworks I could have gotten an apology.
We're up in the mountains, there's still snow up there, pine trees and everything. My gf gets the great idea of Lets sleep under the stars, like in the movies, it will be romantic. No tent or anything, just a ground sheet and the sleeping bag. Zipped together of course, so she can steal my body heat. So at some ungodly hour of the night I feel this pressure on my chest. I figure it was a dog just trying to use me as a pillow, so I start to get a hand free to push the dog away when I realize I have a skunk sitting on my chest, staring right at me. I lie there frozen, it seemed like an hour, but it was really like 10 minutes. Finally the skunk hops off me and wanders off. Took me like four hours to calm my heart rate down and go back to sleep. Fuck espresso man, wake up with a skunk on your chest and you won't need that kind of shit.
Also good was the pair of fat Texans telling my gf to go back to Mexico. Swing and a miss fellows. This naturally went down in a WalMart.
So Now Detroit:
First off, if you haven't been to Seoul, it's a really nice city. Population of ~10 million, incredibly clean and a subway system that puts all others to shame. Also a very safe city, you can safely wander around out there without any worries.
Compare that to Detroit, where Kroger left because they couldn't find enough qualified workers to stock shelves.
So after the entire slapping incident relations where pretty chilled. The mother is angry at her daughter for defying her, me for getting up in her face and also at herself for losing control of the situation like that. A lot of traditional Asian families though like to pretend everything is 100% fine on the surface and they're all one big happy family. So the mother basically does a 100% and becomes terminally friendly and acting like she has the best family ever, while hundreds of emotional hang ups lurk under the surface. Like we were talking around the campus and see two big fat Michigan squirrels. So she starts yelling and gesturing excitedly while pointing at the squirrels. Whips out the camera and takes photos, then has her daughters stand by the squirrels, takes photos of them and everything. What she was trying to project was: See? No issues in the family, its one big happy family that is taking photos with cute animals and we?re all laughing and having fun, everything is great.
So the trip down to Detroit was kind of easy (but annoying) because her mom was on all the cute subjects. Like ?Ooooooh look the airport where we came in!!! Ooooooh look a blue bridge over the highway, that?s one of your school's colors isn't it dear? Ooooooooh look a tire beside the highway!!!!!! *six million photos*?
The perkiness though was kind of strained as we got into the city. I mean what do you get excited about in Detroit? Ooooh look a burned out house! Ooooh look another burned out house! Look dear a gang shooting in progress! *duck and cover*?
We hit up the RenCen and had some friends give us a little tour of the GM World Headquarters, enjoyed a good ?American? lunch at the Hard Rock Café and drove around Belle Isle. We rode the People Mover in a full loop around the city and I drove them through some of the shadier parts of Mexican Town. I opted not to go into the really bad parts of town, but some of the empty lots right down by the Joe and that area got the point across. Got them to double check the door locks a few times.
When we were walking about Belle Isle, every time a black person approached the family would shift to so I was between them and the stranger. They also totally blown away by the fact black people could be cops. One of the grandfathers summed up Detroit's problems as Oh so the brothers of those who commit crimes are the police? No wonder nothing gets fixed. You should get some good American cops. When he says America, what he neans is white.
*For those of you unfamiliar with North Asian cultures, typically everyone in the country belongs to one to ethnic group. So to them one ethnic group = one country and a lot of them don't get the idea of a country with multiple ethnic groups living in one country. So to them American's ethnic unit is white people and they don't get why all these black people are running around. I one had a Japanese person point to some black people and go: I thought they lived on preserves?.'. (He meant reservations.)
It's also one of the reasons many traditional families fear their children settling in America. In a lot of cases, immigrants will forever rank one step below the locals. As in Korea is run for the benefit of Koreans, others might settle and work there, but the needs of the minorities aren't something the government spends a lot of time worrying about. At least compared to America and Canada.
After Detroit we cruising up to Grosse Point to show her family what a difference a few blocks on Jefferson can make. We ended up coming back through Oakland County and stopping in Rochester to visit some family.
Now the best part about visiting my cousin in Rochester Hills is, get this, he's married to a Korean American girl! Ginger mojo, it gets you the Korean every time. His wife was born in Korea, but adopted by white Americans at age 2 and raised in Holland, Michigan. So while yes she does appear Korean, all her mannerisms and speech patterns are those of a native Michigander. I always give him shit for marrying a "Knock Off" while I have the genuine article. His reply: 'The model I got doesn't consider dog edible, yours does. I win. (His wife went to State, so I?m pretty sure I win in the end.)
So we pull into his driveway, he comes out to greet us and a few minutes later his wife comes out. The expressions on the faces of her family were amazing. It was a total ?What the hell? They're stealing our women!? So we introduced her around and gave them her background. She speaks no Korean, but Lil Sis kept forgetting and trying to talk to her in Korean. They showed off their new baby and everyone fussed over him. My gf's mom made a big fuss of his Asian facial features. (The kid is 3 months old and the only thing I think he resembles is a pink raisin that shits itself.) My gf's mom really seemed to get into the kid, since I guess she really wants grandkids. So I guess the day she accepts me is the day she starts urging me to procreate with her daughter.
We finished off the trip by introducing to I-275, Michigan's six lane parking lot and sitting in traffic for awhile. I was expecting the mom to make little remarks about how I could go date an adoptee and keep my hands off their native resources, but she was still in the ultra friendly and everything is happy mode. So it was just small talk and excited pointing at a Hummer H2s and things like that.
Lil Sis also said once she gets a car, she wants us to send her spinners, really big ones. We were stopped next to a 1990s Buick blasting rap and she opened the window and leaned out to get a better video of the spinners in action. The two homies in the car were punching each other on the shoulder, laughing, pointing and all that. She waved back, gave them the peace sign and then took their photo. The one guy collapsed against the steering wheel laughing at that point.
Part 6: They're Gone
First off I need to shout out to Shredder for the MS Paint. Amazing man, amazing. For the record, my hair is rapidly turning the color Shredder shows in the paint. Given it appears to be full on Spring or Summer in that paint, its accurate (aside from the fact my skin isn't bright red and peeling, freaking Irish ancestry). Also to Brian for mentioning me on Unverified Voracity, wow. MS Paint, Unverified Voracity and Haikus. Wow, you people must really be bored.
Also a shout out Chait at TNR for linking to the first one, although I feel compelled to point out I used to write for the Review. What's with you Dailypeople always mooching our stuff? [/sarcasm].
Bzzt, Bzzt. My cellphone vibrated on the coffee table, alarm going off, reminding me i need to at work in an hour. I reach out, fumbling for the cellphone, trying not to disturb my girlfriend. How did she steal the covers again?
She's sleeping on top of me, we fell asleep on the couch last night, some time around 3 am or so. She's wrapped in our maize and blue afghan (which I knit, thank you very much), she's gotten it wrapped around her body multiple times like a sleeping bag, leaving me with nothing to cover my feet. She's snoring softly, she claims I lie about her snoring of course, face pressed against my chest.
I grab the cellphone, kill the alarm and flip open my email. I dash off a little email about having a cold or allergy problems, not sleeping well and say I'm going to take some decongestants, grab some sleep and then come in to work late. It's not a total lie, my allergies are acting up right now.
Overcast, the sound of the wind whistling by our sliding glass door. Corin is sitting by the door, a fifth of tequila between his paws. He looks at the bottle, about two inches of amber liquid remain at the bottom of it, then presses his nose against the top. Then shifts, trying to shove his tongue down the neck of the bottle, failing. After a moment he gives up, eyeing the bottle, nudging it with his nose. Then that tongue outs again. Corin's a canine alcoholic. The remains of our drinks are gone, he and Dora likely finished them off once we passed out.
Talk about a hell of a hangover. There's half a bottle of water on the coffee table, but its out of arms reach. I try to grab it a few times before finally grabbing the leg of the table, dragging it closer, an inch at a time, trying not to wake up my girlfriend as she snores on top of me. Both dogs are watching me now, heads tilting as they try to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I get the water and manage to only spill about half it on myself as I drink.
So Wednesday afternoon we convoyed to the airport. The father was the only with an international drivers permit and he's gone. So my gf drove out the van loaded down with the family, my parents next and me last. We all pulled in at McNamara, helped her family move their bags into the terminal. She hugged them farewell, shook hands and gave hugs as well.
Dropped the van off at Hertz, wished my parents farewell and walked over to my car. The gf fiddles around with the radio, putting on BoA's American album, selecting the track Control and cranking the volume up. With the chorus of:
You don't know me, I'm not who you think I am
You don't own me, your wish is not my command
Oh oh oh oh
You think you're in control
You think you're in control
Control, control, control
You think you're in control
It's not exactly a subtle song for what she's going for here. Since we're out anyways we take the long way home, swing through Clawson to grab some sushi at Noble Fish. We get there before the restaurant section opens, so we load up on various foods, then get some sushi and bail.
So I have some stories, ranging from taking the family to Detroit, to Easter, to meeting some Japanese neighbors (Are you a white guy hanging with a traditional Korean family? Get some Japanese people in on this, you'll suddenly be the second most hated race in the room.) I'll type them up soon, really. Right now I'm just cranking this out over my late lunch break, so I'm on the clock here.
So in the end, how did I do and does the family hate my guts or not? I made some major progress on Easter when it came out I'm not religious, which her family approved up. I guess there was some fear I'd convert their daughter to a Western religion, which was odd to find out given how many Christians there are in Korea. The grandmother seems to like me, she actually gave a legit hug at the airport and echoed the father's invitation to come to Korea. The paternal grandfather seems to at least tolerate me, I guess he considers me a bit more of a man after the slap incident, even if I don't boss my girlfriend around.
The mother and the grandparents on that side are still tricky. Part of my acceptance I think rests on how my gf's relationship with her mother plays out. She bucked parental authority over here, and did it in front a lot of her people and her mother is not happy about that. So relations are tense between my gf and her mother. Their farewell was really strained and the hug was one of those ice cold quick 1 second long things. Her family had to change planes in Chicago and during that time her mother called the go's cellphone. My gf responded by sending the call to voicemail turning off the phone. Things are tense there. Since the dad flew back early, they had a spare ticket for this flight and the mother was pushing hard for my gf to use it and come back to Korea so they could continue to talk about this. My gf dug her heels and is still here.
On a lighter note, on Sunday we visited my uncle up in Livingston County. He's a good Michigan redneck, complete with a gun case and stuffed animal heads in his living room. The one grandfather was admiring some of the weapons and we pulled a few out to shoot. Lil Sis wanted in on this, so we gave her the folding stock G36K. Posted on her Cyworld is a photo of her firing the gun. She had to fire prone because the one time she tried to fire from the shoulder while standing the recoil kicked her ass, so she'd put on a pair of jeans and a camo shirt for the lying in the dirt part. These were both about 5 sizes too big. The caption under the photo: "I'M AMERICAN NOW!!!!!!!!" There are a bunch of comments on the photo and a conversation about Americans and guns, and one of Lil Sis's was basically "All you boys better treat me right, or I'll have my sister send over her big white boyfriend and his guns to get you." Crex, Gingerwater Inc, international ginger enforcer. She's actually pretty good with it, after a few lessons on how the sites work she had good grouping and she outshot both her grandfathers, who served in the Korean military. He dad loved the picture and had it posted in his office on base I'm told. She's taken her paper targets and some empty casings back to Korea. About fifteen minutes after we dropped them at the airport it hit me "Shit, those things are in her carry-on bag. What if TSA flips out over them?" Luckily she made it through security and customs with no problems.
The above is the orginial arch that was voted into the board's Hall of Fame. At one point they were removed because my gf (now wife) was still teaching her and some of her students connected the dots. With that all history now, they have returned. Due to populat demand I'll occasionally do updates in the off season or if I have something truly worthwhile talking about. You can use the 'korean inlaws' tag to find them. At the time of doing this, the future updates are:
CRex and Mongolia
How It All Got Started
The Wedding Series, Part I