koreans say the darndest thing

Recently, Husband asked for a reading recommendation. I gave him Who’s Irish by Gish Jen. Lots of cultural differences that both he and I can relate to. First of all, Gish Jen is an amazing, incredi-balls writer. Her writing blows me away. The title short story captures some Asian/American cultural clashes, but it’s mostly about (to me, anyway) how we manage to bungle the relationships with family who make us the most crazy and whom we love the most.

To generalize, the story characterizes Asians as hardcore and brutally blunt, and Americans as extraordinarily considerate but wieners. I kind of agree with that assessment, and at different points in life, have considered one quality better than the other. The harshness of the way some older Asians (my mother, hello) communicate interests me the most. It’s something that both cracks me up into convulsive seizures and makes me feel like someone just handled me with a hot poker.

The Korean Tooth Fairy had this similar quality. When the boy twin was in the hospital, she said she knew a woman my age with twins, but the boy died. Part of me went, Really? Really? I mostly found it funny (probably b/c he was in the clear at that point.) (She was still awesome, btw, very caring with the babies, but she is Korean, therefore blunt. We had moments during the health stress points, where she would fret and I would point and scold “Think positive! Think positive!” This would make her flee. I felt like I was Harry Potter and I just said Expecto Patronum or something.)

The matter-of-factness — I don’t know, I don’t think it comes from being mean. No demographic really owns the corner market on that quality. But it’s there, and I wonder where it comes from, but what weirds me out is that as I get older, I realize I have that Korean bluntness, as well as the American sensitivity thing, too. I am so confused.

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