I’m fairly certain there’s a rule out there about not judging love. And I know for sure there’s one about not criticizing house guests, especially when they’re still under one’s roof. I’m going to spurn both of these things and not simply cast love in a critical light while it’s sleeping in a room nearby. I’m going to put it in my cross hairs and shoot it in the face.
Backstory: our present guest Juan is a cousin of some sort of Ann’s (being Irish Catholic, it’s just easier to suggest that any relation of hers is a cousin, well though he’s probably a third cousin thrice removed or some such thing)(calling him “Juan” is, besides just me being funny, derived from the fact that he’s pretty much a “wan”dering soul, y’ask me). His historic presence in our lives has largely been driven by his wandering ways and propensity to travel light—in the wallet, that is (resulting in him coming to the bay area often enough and asking to crash at our house each time)(which, understandable for someone in their twenties, seems a tad unseemly when you’re 61, right? Meow.). He stopped doing this about seven years back, however, and around the time all hell was breaking loose within Ann’s family. Ann suspected a connection in this timing, and suspected on which side Juan was pledging allegiance (not hers). We only learned through others that Juan had opted to move to China three years ago, apparently for some work opportunity.
Flash forward to two days ago, when Ann received a text from Juan saying, well, the old usual (wanderers like Juan aren’t always so mindful of things like New Years Eve, I guess, so aren’t afraid to practice their craft on such potentially involved dates for others). Ann was decidedly mixed on welcoming him back but, ever the good family sport, opted to do so. At the last minute, we learned that Juan was “bringing a friend from China.” No clue what this was about, though add eye rolling to our reflections on his cavalier ways.
In walks Juan last night, decked out in his usual shaggy dog garb, while behind him is the mildly arresting and not a little confusing sight of a svelte, sharply (Ann might say cheesily) tailored young lady, Yoo Yoo, obviously Chinese, dressed in a rather provocative black cocktail dress and black leather jacket. Were this a couple I saw on the street somewhere, I’m sorry, I’d have to think the worst. As it is, they’re in my kitchen, the dialogue is all about how long it’s been since we’ve seen Juan, so no initial sense can be made of them.
We never learn very much about this relationship across the next three hours, for that matter (though we’re told it’s no problem to share a room, so there’s that). We do learn a few things about Yoo Yoo, that she’s from Shanghai and works as a dj at a nightclub, which would certainly seem an age appropriate job. Did I mention that she’s young? While she didn’t indicate her age, she did share that she has a younger sister who’s 10. Even under the most extreme conditions of this sister being an oops baby, this would place Yoo Yoo as well under half Juan’s age. I would guess she’s around 21 or 22, shrinking that further to perhaps one third.
Dinner was perfectly pleasant. I learned a lot about China. Yoo Yoo, who possesses decent if limited English (western television), contributed occasionally, mostly confirming assertions about China by Juan. Juan didn’t go much out of his way to draw attention to (or interest in) Yoo Yoo. Frankly, he may as well have brought a book about China with him and set it on the table, leaving it for us to look at as we liked. The talk about China was interesting; the social dynamic was helplessly odd.
Then again, perhaps it shouldn’t have been; perhaps it was all perfectly predictable, no? The whole, fading American with dwindling prospects taking up with a hot, young Asian in a gesture of romantic imperialism thing. Isn’t that a tale oft told anymore?
You certainly see that in spades here on the left coast (where the Asian population is large and the travel distance relatively small to many more to our west). I can quickly tick off two other instances of this of which I’m aware (one hitting rather close to home). There’s even a church nearby that I swear is popular with multiracial couples of this sort, which should probably come as no surprise.
I’m sorry: I’m cynical. It just seems a bit audacious to show up with a vixen by your side and act like it’s just another Sunday get together, and please pass the peas. Were I in them shoes I myself might go a little further in my efforts to reveal what an interesting, substantive person this is, may even be susceptible to overcompensating to these ends until you are forced to the point of “Uncle!” in seeing the obvious justification of this affair, until the stark contrast of its October/April (late October/early April) nature is altogether lost on you. Until then, how could a reasonable person not be at least a little concerned with his hosts’ wondering at the basic question of, what in God’s name can these two possibly have in common? Other than, that is, complementary biological functions that can and obviously are being meshed here and there? If no such effort on Juan’s part is forthcoming, are we just leapfrogging past the pretense of this being something and directly into the land of the inside joke? Am I to assume the role of the knowing buddy and catch Juan off to the side and do the “wink wink, nod nod” schtick with him?
Answer: no clue! Dinner ended and they headed in the direction of the guest house. Perhaps something will be revealed at breakfast, my breath I hold not.
Oh, life is indeed a carnival, ain’t it? I know it was for dear Juan last night. Unabashed in his freedom to ask if that bed’s taken, he is likewise not the type–surprise!–that needs to be encouraged to make himself at home. By way of saying goodnight, he politely asked, “Is the hot tub working?” Of course it is, Juan! With fresh towels in the cabana, good sir!
Rest assured, dear reader, this display of my complete lack of graciousness will be contained to this rogue missive and not conveyed outwardly one lick. I will be nothing short of the happy, courteous host to Matthew C. Perry and his friend, Mulan. I promise!
Postscript: Ann wondered at the effect on others’ willingness to come visit us given my willingness to write as such. All’s I can say is, can’t wait to see you!