Rich Meeting His Future Mother-in-law
After much thought, I came up with a brilliant plan for Rich to meet my mother and win her over. In fact, I arranged it so my mother would want to cook a meal especially for him.
One day, my mother called me, to invite me to a birthday dinner for my father. My brother Vincent was bringing his girlfriend, Lisa Lum. I could bring a friend, too.
I knew she would do this, because cooking was how my mother expressed her love, her pride, her power, her proof that she knew more than any one else. "Just be sure to tell her later that her cooking was the best you ever tasted," I told Rich. "Believe me."
The eve of the dinner, I sat in the kitchen watching her cook, waiting for the right moment to tell her about our marriage plans, that we had decided to get married next July, about seven months away. She was cubing garlic and slicing cabbage into small pieces and chatting at the same time about Auntie Suyuan: "She can only cook looking at directions. My instructions are in my fingers. I know what secret ingredients to put in just by using my nose!" And she was slicing so quickly, seemingly not paying attention to her sharp chopping knife, that I was afraid the tips of her fingers would become one of the ingredients of the purple vegetable and pork dish.
I was hoping she would say something first concerning Rich. I had seen her expression when she opened the door, her forced smile as she surveyed him from head to toe, checking her judgment of him against that already given to her by Auntie Suyuan. I tried to anticipate what criticisms she would have.
Rich was not only not Chinese, he was also my junior, a few years younger than I was. And unfortunately, he looked much younger with his curly red hair, smooth pale skin, and the splash of orange freckles across his nose. He was a bit on the short side, compactly built. In his dark business suits, he looked nice but easily forgettable, like somebody's nephew at a funeral. This was why I didn't notice him the first year we worked together at the firm. But, my mother noticed everything.
"So what do you think of Rich?" I finally asked, holding my breath.
She tossed the garlic in the hot oil which bubbled in a loud, angry sound. "So many spots on his face," she said.
I could feel the goose bumps rise on my back. "They're freckles. Freckles are good luck, you know," I felt compelled to defend on his behalf, a bit too heatedly as I raised my voice above the noise of the kitchen.
"Oh?" she said innocently.
"Yes, the more spots the better. Everybody knows that."
She considered this a moment and then smiled and spoke in a Chinese dialect: "Maybe this is true. When you were young, you got the chicken pox. So many spots, you had to stay home for ten days. So lucky, you thought."
I couldn't save Rich in the kitchen. And I couldn't save him later at the dinner table either.
He had brought a bottle of French wine, something he did not know my parents could not appreciate. My parents did not even own appropriate glasses for wine. And then he also made the mistake of drinking not one but two frosted glasses full, while everybody else had a half-inch "just for taste."
But the worst happened when Rich criticized my mother's cooking, and he didn't even have a clue about what he had done. As is the Chinese cook's custom, my mother always made negative remarks about her own cooking. That night she chose to direct it toward her famous steamed pork and preserved vegetable dish, which she always served with special pride.
"Ai! This dish not salty enough, no flavor," she complained, after tasting a small bite. "It is too bad to eat."
This was our family's cue to eat some and proclaim it the best she had ever made. But before we could be so diplomatic, Rich said, "You know, all it needs is a little soy sauce." And he proceeded to pour a riverful of the salty black stuff on the china plate, right before my mother's shocked eyes.
And even though I was hopeful throughout the dinner that my mother would somehow see Rich's kindness, his sense of humor and charm, I knew he had failed miserably in her eyes.
Rich obviously had had a different opinion on how the evening had gone. When we got home that night, after we put Shoshana to bed, he said modestly, "Well, I think we hit it off A-OK."
a. 1. highly skilled, unusually good, very clever 出色的, 才华横溢的，聪颖的
2. full of light, shining or bright in color 光辉的，明亮的
vt. 1. plan the details of (a future event); organize 准备，筹备；组织，安排
2. put sth. in order; make organized, or attractive 排列，整理，布置
n. [U] day or evening before a certain event 前夕
vt. cut (food) into six-sided pieces 切（食物）成方块
n. 1. a hard object with six square sides of equal size 立方体
n. [U] 蒜，大蒜
vt. cut sth. into thin wide flat pieces 把……切成薄片
n. [C] a flat, often thin, piece of food that has been cut from a large piece 片
n. [C, U] 甘蓝
n. 1. [C] any of the foods that are combined to make a particular dish （构成某种食品的各种）成分，配料
2. [C] any of the qualities of which sth. is made （形成某事物的）因素
vt. cut (sth.) into pieces with a knife or other sharp instruments 砍，切，剁碎
n. [C] a small piece of meat with bone still in it 排骨
n. [C, U] 紫色
prep.about (sb./sth.) 关于
n. [C] 脚趾
vt. 1. see (what is going to happen or what needs to be done) and then act 事前处理，预先准备
2. expect (sth.) 预料，预期，期待
n. [C, U] the words not in favor of sb. or sth. based on mistakes 批评，批判，指责
n. 1. [C, U]（一绺）卷发
2. [C] 卷曲物
a. made, grown or arranged in curls 卷曲的
n. [C] a bright patch of color 有色斑点
n. [C] 雀斑，斑点
a. 1. (of person or an animal) small, strong, and well-built 结实的
2. closely and neatly packed together 紧凑的，小巧的
n. [C] a son of your sister or brother or a son of the sister or brother of your husband or wife 侄儿，外甥
vi. contain thin balls of air or gas rising to the top or make a sound like this 冒泡，发出冒泡的声音
n. [C] a ball of air 气泡，水泡，泡沫
n. 1. [C] a small raised area or marks on the skin 粉刺，丘疹
2. [C] a small mark 小点，斑点，污点
3. [C] a particular place or point 地点，处所
vt. 1. mark with spots 玷污
2. see, notice or recognize (sb./sth.) that is difficult to notice or that one is looking for 认出，发现
n. 1. [C] a thick or hard raised area, maybe on the skin, esp. one caused by illness or hurt 肿块，突起
2. [C] a sudden forceful blow or a hit 碰撞，猛撞
vi. hit sth. with force, esp. accidentally 碰撞
vt. make sb. do sth.; force 强迫，迫使
n. [U] interest; side 利益；方面
a. 1. harmless 无恶意的
2. not guilty of wrongdoing 清白的，无罪的，无辜的
n. [C, U] a special form of language which is peculiar to a certain region or social group 方言，土语
n. [U] 痘, 痘疮
vt. 1. cover sth. with frost 以霜覆盖
2. make (sth. esp. glass) look as if it is covered with frost 使（玻璃）不透明（形成霜状表面）
vi. become covered with frost 结霜，结冰
n. 1. [U] 霜
2. [C] a period of time of cold weather when frost forms 霜冻，严寒天气
vt. 1. point out the mistakes of (sb./sth.) 批评，批判
2. form and express a judgment on (a work of art, literature, etc.) （对艺术品、文学作品的） 评论
n. [C] a fact or idea as a guide or aid in a task or problem 线索，提示
n. 1. [C] a signal for sb. to do sth. 暗示，信号
2. [C] an example of how to behave, what to do, etc.（关于如何行动或做什么的）暗示
vt. 1. make sth. known publicly 宣告，宣布，公布，声明
2. show or make it clear 表明，显示
a. 1. skillful in dealing with people 有交际手段的，策略的，圆滑的
2. of or about the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations 外交的
n. [U] 大豆
n. [C, U] (type of liquid) mixed ingredients used with food to add flavor 调味汁, 佐料
n. [U] 瓷器
a. 1. (of a person) having hope （指人）怀有希望的
2. (of a sign, situation, etc.) giving hope; likely to succeed （指迹象、状况等）有希望的，有可能成功的
ad. 1. in some way; by some means 以某种方法或方式；设法
2. for a reason that is unknown 由于某种未知的理由
n. 1. [U] quality of being kind 亲切，和蔼，关心
2. [C] a kind act 仁慈的举动
a. 1. causing unhappiness; unpleasant 使人痛苦的；令人讨厌的
2. very unhappy or uncomfortable 痛苦的，悲惨的，可怜的
a. 1. having or showing a not too high opinion of one's abilities, qualities, etc. 谦虚的，虚心的
2. not large in amount, size, etc. 适中的，适度的
ad. 1. 谦虚地，虚心地
PHRASES AND EXPRESSIONS
come up with
find or produce (an answer, a solution, etc.) 找到，想出（答案、解决方法等）
gain (sb.'s) support or favor 争得（别人的）支持或恩惠
from head to toe
over the whole length of one's body 从头到脚，浑身上下
have as an opinion about 有……看法（想法）
hold one's breath
stop breathing for a short time 屏息
proceed to do
go on doing 继续做，继续进行
in spite of the fact or belief that; no matter whether 纵然……也；即使
put sb. to bed
make sb. go to bed 安置某人睡觉
hit it off
have a friendly relationship with each other 相处得很好