Asians have similar dating rituals as everyone else. But if the parents are ever involved, you know it’s going to make for an experience that’s bizarre, awkward or worse.
I learned about the birds and the bees through a combination of inner-city kids at school, my older cousin and the internet. My parents did not mention anything, just scolded me when I watched teen shows or put a basketball under my shirt to make believe I was pregnant.
Things get messier when grandparents become involved. My grandpa made me promise that I wouldn’t have a boyfriend until I was 20, or get married until I was 25. Luckily, at the time I already knew about the fine art of placating old people. I figured that by the time I was 15, I’d be all that and with a ton of male suitors.
Fast forward to age 25, when I’m no closer to finding anything resembling love. Family and friends don’t harass me a ton, but I know they all ask my mother when I’m not in the room. And when we go to gatherings, there is often conveniently a single Chinese male I’m supposed to meet. This happened on Thanksgiving, when a family with a son in med school invited my parents and some other friends for dinner. Sign I’m too old to be single: I actually looked forward to this. My mom and I even shared a crassly heartwarming moment:
“I’m excited to meet him.”
“Although, looking at his parents…you can’t expect too much.”
“You never know–raised on good American nutrition…”
To my luck, I got a twofer that day, him and his friend. And though obvious there would be no love connection, it was great to talk to kids my age instead of the younger kids I’m usually stuck entertaining. One of my favorite parts was reflecting on quintessentially Asian experiences with these strangers. Like whether our parents knew what “porn” meant, or how they answered the “How are babies born?” question from our youths:
“My parents told me babies come from the government.” (hooray communist China)
“My parents said they prayed for me.” (sure, blame God.)
“Mine said she hoped and thought about it really hard.” (laziest answer courtesy of my mom)
I had a good time and my new friends went back to whatever other states they’re going to school in. But the best part is, no matter how platonic my friendships with guys are, my mom will always be convinced that they’ve fallen in love with me. And that’s one lie I do appreciate.