The Problem With Being Perfect

The Problem With Being Perfect

by Wayne Chan

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Overview

The Problem With Being Perfect is a book of secrets. Most of these secrets fall into one of the following two categories:

1. Things I've done that make me look like an idiot which I'd rather not share with family and friends but don't mind sharing with people who don't know me and have no idea where I live.

2. Things my friends and family have done that would make them look like idiots which I can't mention in front of them because they do know where I live.

May I also emphasize that in no way, shape or form, do any of the embarrassing stories I tell have anything to do with my wife. Even though some of the stories may seem like they could only come from my wife, and even if from time to time I actually refer to the person as "my wife", I completely disavow any knowledge or any belief that the person in question, is in fact, my wife. If, in reading this book, you come across the words, "my wife", please replace them with the words, "amazing human being."

I see myself as a humor writer who happens to be Asian-American. The secrets I share are for everyone. I hope you enjoy our fun.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449093549
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Problem with Being Perfect

From The United Federation Of Asian Perfect-ness
By Wayne Chan

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2010 Wayne Chan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4490-9354-9


Chapter One

Chinese Family Reunion Dinners 101

For those of you who may attend a Chinese banquet or are Chinese and are planning a big get together with family, I have compiled a set of guidelines that should help you in your preparation.

My qualifications? My parents have 17 brothers and sisters among them. Growing up, I attended so many family reunions that I sometimes wondered when the separation occurred that justified having another family reunion.

With that said, here are some helpful hints on how to proceed, in chronological order:

1. You must select a restaurant (Chinese, of course), in the most concentrated part of town, on a busy Friday night (in your local Chinatown), preferably with no free parking in the vicinity that will force you to drive past a number of pay parking lots in order to park free in a dimly lit alleyway close to a neighborhood pawn shop.

2. Once you have arrived, you must make sure the restaurant you have chosen has ambient noise loud enough to drown out any kind of meaningful conversation. After all, this is a family reunion. It's not the time or place for any kind of small talk.

3. Once the restaurant has been chosen, adults are seated at one table and children sit at another. All tables are round and large enough to seat approximately 15 people. All children must sit at one table, regard less of how many are in attendance. If there are so many children that some must share a seat or play "tag-team dining", so be it.

4. The first big test of the evening is in ordering the appropriate dishes. The dishes ordered for the adults must be so expensive that you may need to get a second mortgage on your home to pay for it. However, it is important for you to give the impression that you always eat this way, as if you normally order shark fin soup at $150/bowl. This image projects success.

It is also a good idea to order something off the menu in which the animal of choice is cooked whole and presented in it's entirety for the enjoyment of the guests. As a rule of thumb, the larger the carcass, the better.

Dishes for the adult table are seafood based. On the other hand, dishes for the kid's table are carbohydrate based. The dishes for the children must include vast quantities of starch, particularly rice and noodles. Non-carbohydrate based dishes, such as sweet and sour pork, should include the smallest bits of the toughest meat possible, covered with a thick layering of starch, and then deep-fried beyond recognition. As a side note, the meat within the starch must be so small as to make it difficult to detect or taste until you have flossed later in the evening and dislodged it from between your teeth.

Although it is hard to find, a children's specialty would be a dish of nuggets made entirely of starch, then covered with flour batter, deep fried and covered with a gooey, sugary red sauce which should eliminate any nutritional value whatsoever. Finally, for budgeting purposes, the dollar ratio between dishes served for the adults vs. children should be approximately 35 to one.

5. When the first dishes arrive, it is best to ask the waitress to slow everything down so as to make each course a test in patience. Chinese tradition dictates that true prosperity allows the family the luxury to slowly enjoy their meal. If, in the course of your meal, you notice that the newspaper delivery boy is going about his rounds, you have accomplished your task.

6. During the meal, the role of all those who attend is to show mock amazement and to beseech the host that they have ordered too much. This is a customary ritual designed to convey the guest's observation that the host has enough money to feed a small army. The host must respond in kind by ordering five more dishes.

Another Chinese custom is to communicate your pleasure in the dishes by eating as loudly as possible. This conveys the pleasure you are experiencing to your gracious host. Once the sound level of smacking lips and gums begins to sound like a chorus of tap dancers, you have made your feelings known.

7. Towards the end of the meal, the roles of the elders in the party are somewhat different. It is their responsibility to grade each dish based on how much they disliked it. The grading scale is between a B- and a D, and it is customary to add some judicial comment along with their evaluation. Comments such as "The fish in that dish is too fishy tasting" or "This used to be one of their specialties" are always acceptable observations.

8. After the last dish is finished, toothpicks are handed out so that everyone in the party can join in a round of teeth cleaning. Of course, etiquette demands that while one hand is poking and prodding, the other hand covers the mouth to obstruct any direct viewing by others seated at the table.

9. At the end of the meal, the waitress will promptly present a bill for the evening's festivities. It is at this point that at least two or three of those in attendance must argue over who will pay for the dinner. The negotiations that ensue must be loud, insistent, and unwavering. It is customary and even suggested that someone grab the bill and walk towards the waitress with the intent to pay. It is also appropriate for the other person to follow him and grab their shoulder in order to continue bickering. However, tripping the person as they are walking up with the bill is considered to be stepping over the lines of proper etiquette.

One simple tip to help determine how fervently you should fight over the bill: For the most part, the less money you make, the more insistent you should be to pick up the tab. This is called, "Being in denial".

10. On the drive back home with each family going their separate ways, it is appropriate for the adults in the car to repeatedly question, "Why do we always have to go through the same thing every time we get together?" The children, slouched in the back seat and stuffed to their ears in Garbs, should promptly respond by burping in unison.

Two Waynes are Better than One

I'd like to apologize to my parents.

I have done my best to be a good son. I went to college, and even went on to get a masters degree, despite the fact that I went through it reluctantly. At the time, I think I made a very good case for not going to college.

Let's see - my reasons were:

1. I'm not going to learn anything useful in college that I don't already know now. Why do I need to learn calculus?

2. I'm going to be the world's number one tennis player. What do I need college for?

3. I'm already making plenty of money being the "Dough Specialist" at Round Table Pizza.

After listening to my thoughtful reasoning and very sound logic, I believe my mom's response was, "I don't want to hear it. You're going."

Now that some time has passed, I can see my parents were right (although I still have never been in a situation where calculus came in handy). In every respect, I owe my parents for everything I have in my life.

But right now, I owe them an apology. Let me explain.

I don't like my name. "Wayne Chan" - two one word syllables. It's too short. It sounds like a doorbell chime.

Obviously, there's not that much that my parents could do with my last name. But "Wayne"? Is that the best they could come up with? Why not something more macho like "Bronson"? With a name like that, I'd go around introducing myself to strangers just so I could say my own name.

Yes, the name's Chan - Bronson Chan. Please, just call me Bronson.

You don't like "Bronson"? That's fine, there are a lot of other names that I would be perfectly happy with. How about "Daniel"? I'd be fine being Daniel Chan, despite the fact that you can't shake a stick without hitting another Chinese guy named "Daniel". Why not? It's a nice name.

But "Wayne"? Where did that name come from? Actually, I know the answer to that question. I once looked up the etymology for my first name. According to my research, the name "Wayne" was an old English occupational surname that meant, "Wagon maker."

I doubt that my parents were actually thinking about 18t" century modes of transportation when they were trying to name their son, but maybe I'm just not giving them their due credit.

All of this leads to the real reason I've written this column. Several weeks ago I came upon a young man who pens a number of comic strips, many of them drawn from the perspective of an Asian American. I think his work is truly terrific.

We got to talk and we thought it would be a perfect match if we worked together, combining my columns and his strips. We work in different mediums - I write columns, and he draws comic strips, but we do share a commonality in our perspectives - as Asian Americans who find humor in our daily lives.

So, without further ado, let me introduce (and I am not making this up) ... Wayne Chan.

Wayne is based in the Bay Area, and yes, the strip you see next to this column is by him. We'd like to name our collaboration - column & comic strip, "The Waynes of the World." We hope you enjoy it.

By the way, Wayne, if you're reading this - I guess I owe your parents an apology too.

A Tale of Forbidden Fruit

As a service to our readers, I have taken it upon myself, in a never-ending quest to unravel the secrets of Asian culture, to seek out and uncover, at some personal risk to myself, the mysteries of Asia's forbidden fruits.

That's right - I'm here to tell you about all the weird fruit they have on sale at my local Asian supermarket.

Now, it's fortunate that I've been able to travel to Asia frequently and I've seen the variety of fruit available over there. There's nothing in the Asian markets here that I haven't seen for sale over there. Still, I can imagine the initial shock of anyone walking through the produce section of an Asian supermarket for the first time.

Let's take the pomelo, for example. A pomelo is the largest fruit in the citrus family. The term "large" is an understatement.

How big is it?

A typical pomelo is roughly the same size as a full-grown golden retriever. I once saw a pomelo fall off a fruit stand and roll down a grocery aisle forcing women and children to flee in horror from the marauding citrus boulder rolling towards them. A family of four could live off of one pomelo for a week and a half. In some countries when you file your taxes you can claim your pomelo as a dependent.

It's that BIG.

Rambutan is a fruit from Southeast Asia that has a very pleasant taste and is shaped similarly to lychee, except that the outside shell is round and covered with soft, crimson red tentacles. I don't know how else to describe the look of rambutan except to say that it seems oddly perverted. When holding rambutan in your hand at a local Asian supermarket, I have a tendency to look over my shoulder to see if anyone's looking in my direction as if I'm doing something seedy.

The few times I've purchased rambutan at the market I've discreetly asked the bagger to stuff them into a plain, brown paper bag.

Then there's the durian. A durian is about the size and shape of a football covered with sharp, spiny, green thorns on the outside, looking a lot like a grenade on steroids. Cutting a durian in half, you see two sacs, each filled with a grayish yellow gelatinous mass that looks a lot like the forensics scene from the movie Aliens.

Let's not forget about the famous durian smell. Encyclopedia Britannica describes the durian smell as a "pungent foul odor." How would I describe it? Take one pair of dirty gym socks, stuff them with some moldy cheese, drive them to your nearest dairy farm during the warmest time of the day, and voilá! Pungent foul odor.

Despite the fact that the actual taste of a durian is sweet and creamy, what puzzles me is that some point at the beginning of time, one of our ancestors came upon this ominous looking fruit for the first time with all it's spiny thorns, alien-like innards, and locker room smell, and was still curious enough (or desperate enough) to wonder, "Sure - it's scary looking and smells like my feet, but I wonder what it tastes like?"

Maybe he was so famished and exhausted from lugging around the pomelo he found that he was ready to eat anything.

Birthdays a Cake of Diminishing Returns

Ahh ... sweet memories.

It seems not so long ago that I celebrated my 30t" birthday. I remember it fondly.

A surprise party. All my best friends and family in attendance. A beautiful cake. My lovely wife, presenting me with my favorite cake from my favorite bakery with several candles on top to mark the occasion. The opening of hand picked presents from the people closest to me and the singing of of "Happy Birthday" in a joyous celebration of this personal milestone.

Good times.

Fast forward 14 years. A few of the details have changed. Oh, I still have a beautiful wife, and there was a cake. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

My birthday dinner plans were cobbled together in a couple of minutes the day before my birthday. On the day of the joyous event, my wife calls and tells me she doesn't have time to buy any candles and asks me to pick some up on my way to my parent's house.

Yes, you read that right. I must run out to buy candles for my own birthday cake.

Dinner goes well, and as always, our family always enjoys opportunities to get together. For dessert, the birthday cake is brought out, and this year the cake is not the one from my favorite bakery, but is instead a store bought cake from our local supermarket. I know this because the price sticker is still on the cellophane of the cake box and in addition, I remember seeing the same cake earlier in the day as I was shopping for candles.

As the candles flicker on top of my ready-made cake, I prepare to blow them out. But before I do, my mother stops me and says that we must not forget that my sister in law's birthday is just a few days later and that we are celebrating for her as well.

There is a slight pause as I wait to see if she would like to "bundle" any other milestones or holidays under the auspices of what is quickly becoming known as the "all encompassing celebratory cake" as I note that "Groundhog Day" is only a few weeks away.

While it may not be hard for any of you to pick up on the latent bitterness as I recall my last birthday celebration, the truth is that I found the change to be more funny than anything else. I don't really have anything to complain about as I have a terrific wife and family.

Still, it's not hard to extrapolate what lies ahead of me as I look ahead to my future birthday celebrations.

On my 50th birthday, all my friends and family will come to celebrate this major milestone in my life, topped off by a beautiful, home made cake festooned with candles and other festive decorations. Of course, by that time I figure that I'll be the one baking the cake so why not give it my all?

On my 60th birthday, we will most likely drop the whole "celebratory cake" thing and the formal celebration will entail me trying some of the free samples at Costco as I shop for my sister in law's birthday cake.

They do sell candles there, right?

The Bathrooms are Alive with the Sound of Music

I have decided to be a brain surgeon.

I have no relevant experience or formal training as a brain surgeon, but I do have some time on my hands and thought it might be challenging and fun. I'll probably kick off my new role as a brain surgeon this weekend with something manageable - nothing too demanding.

Wait a minute. Did I say I wanted to be a "Brain Surgeon"? I'm sorry ... that's just silly. What I meant to say was "Karaoke Singer". There's not really that much in common between the two. First off, Karaoke singers don't usually hold people's lives in the palm of their hands. Hearing? Possibly. But lives? Probably not.

For those who don't know, Karaoke (pronounced "Carry-Okey" in the West) is the popular phenomenon that began in Japan where patrons take turns singing lyrics to pre-recorded music.

I have participated in Karaoke both here and in Asia. While the experience in the U.S. is fairly straightforward, out in Asia it is much more elaborate. For those of you who might have an opportunity to Karaoke in Asia, I thought I might provide the following observations as a primer.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Problem with Being Perfect by Wayne Chan Copyright © 2010 by Wayne Chan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction....................viii
Chinese Family Reunion Dinners 101....................1
Two Waynes are Better than One....................5
A Tale of Forbidden Fruit....................8
Birthdays a Case of Diminishing Returns....................11
The Bathrooms are Alive with the Sound of Music....................13
A Promise to Keep - A Letter To My Daughter....................16
Whatever Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger....................18
Then There's the One About the Herd of Meatballs....................21
For One Family, a Different Kind of Shell Game....................24
One Man's Medicine is the Same Man's Embarassment....................27
A Sweltering Problem Begs for a Cool Solution....................30
Like Comparing Apples to Puttymoo....................33
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Asians....................36
Getting a Jump on the Competition, Unless You're Playing Checkers with Your Son....................40
Bless You, Yao Ming, Bless You....................43
An Unexpected Gift....................46
A Belt-Free Vacation....................49
Time Marches On, Unless You Uninvite Yourself....................52
Working Out a Pointless Exercise....................54
The Benefits Of Being The Human Pretzel....................57
The United Federation of Asian Perfect-ness....................59
Anniversary of Diminishing Returns....................61
Apologies For a Twenty Five Year Old Wedgie....................65
A Meat and No Potatoes Kind of Guy....................67
A Massage to Die For....................69
The Britney and Beijing Accord....................72
Would You Like That With a Side of Grits or an Egg Roll?....................74
Inner Peace - Yes, Outer SilenceNo Way....................76
Coming Soon - Casa de Vietnam....................78
Mother Nature Calls - for Gloves And Goggles....................81
How Not To Become My Own Zipcode....................85
Bruce Lee or James Bond -That is the Question....................88
A General's Generational Tale....................90
Watch Your Language; It May Save You (Asia Trip - Part One)....................93
Unaccustomed to Customs Checkpoints (Asia Trip - Part Two)....................95
Learning the ABC's of Chinese - Minus the ABC's....................97
The Kitchen God and His Missing Dumplings....................99
Crouching Child, Bedeviled Parent....................101
Dressed to the Nines - or Maybe Just Four and a Half....................104
A Duck for the Ages....................106
Eight Words of Wisdom....................108
Eliminating the Gray Area....................111
A Time for Reflection, Resolutions, and Calcium Supplements....................114
English is Perfect - Know What I mean?....................116
Not a Cloud in the Sky - on Purpose....................118
A Bouncing Ball and a Bruised Ego....................120
Not the Best or Worst of Times - But Somewhere in the Middle....................122
A Picture Perfect Picture a Pain to Perfect....................124
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Edits....................127
A Tour Guide of the Mundane....................130
Born Without a Funny Bone....................132
Dazed and Confused in a Shopping Mall....................135
A Complex Simplicity....................137
The American Dream - Transplanted....................139
The Michael Jordan of Sons....................145
The Dog Days of 2006....................148
Hogging Up All The Attention for Chinese New Year....................150
The Year of the Adorable Rodent....................152
From Noodles to Burgers & Back....................154
The Anti-Asian Stereotype Man....................157
Turning Nothing Into a Political Career....................159
To Golf Or Not To Golf - That Is The Problem....................161
Justice In The Name Of Purple....................164
General Tso - Your Check is in the Mail....................166
Maybe We Could Create a Dessert Called TIR-AH-MAH-SU....................168
A Home of Good Fortune and Little Patience....................170
To Beard or not to Beard....................172
Fish, Fish, Where For Art Thou Fish?....................174
No Crab, But a Barrel Full of Excuses....................176
Dental Work Via Hand Signals....................179
Yogurt Schmogurt - I'll Take Chocolate....................181
Blaming Parents for a Happy Childhood....................183
The Wild Kingdom - In My Yard....................185
A Dedication to San Diego's Fire Fighters....................188
Giving a Whole New Meaning to Monkey Business....................190
Kope Coffee Truly Scat-terbrained Idea....................193

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