Last week, I developed a horrible crick in my upper back. By the late afternoon, I was feeling so desperate that I ran over to a bare bones massage place near my house. It was my first massage there, and will probably be my last, but over half an hour of getting my muscles pounded and my back cracked, I learned several things about myself from the masseuse: I’m not a real American because I am not white, but my husband is, though I should have married another ABC. My muscles are really flabby and I should have had children five years ago because I am now 30 and they will probably come out with some health problem, if I can even conceive. I also sweat a lot. It just went on and on and on and on and on. I even got a grilling about how much money I make and spend on rent. It was like a concentrated version of every boundary-violating chat I have ever had in Taiwan. My friend called it “offensive conversation bingo,” though the masseuse did miss his chance to criticize my spoken Mandarin. Maybe he thought doing so would be redundant.
The odd thing was, I really did not feel offended at all. I was just amused. I just thought it was funny that the conversation kept getting worse and worse and worse.
To be honest, one of the reasons I did not mind was because the masseuse seemed like a good-natured weirdo. I didn’t feel as if he was trying to demolish my confidence (my spinal cord, on the other hand…). If someone told me I wasn’t a “real American” or brought up any of the other topics, and I believed they were trying to be malicious, I would have been really upset. I would have been even more put out three or four years ago, when I was still dealing with culture shock. There were times back then when strangers hurt me so much that I was rendered almost speechless from surprise and anger.
Over the past few years, however, I’ve gradually come to peace with a few things and so they are no longer sore spots for me (though they will always be somewhat tender points). I know I will always have an American accent, even as my vocabulary continues to improve and become more sophisticated. I know it will always bother me that some people think of me as not being American, while others accuse me of being a banana (poor, maligned fruit). I wish I were stronger, but I’ve given up on thinking that I can completely change my body type. And while it is annoying that some stranger thinks he knows the best time for my husband and I to become parents, I am confident that once my uterus fills with silt from misuse and falls out of my body because my crappy muscle tone caused a prolapse, I will be able to use it as a weapon to scare off nosy people. I mean, seriously.
Maybe I’ve just gotten used to the different boundaries in Taiwanese culture.
Or maybe I just couldn’t wait to blog about it. Oh yeah, that’s it.