|Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved Charleston C. K. Wang, Esq., Publisher
| EATING IN AMERICA WITHOUT CHOPSTICKS
But ever since my childhood days in multicultural Malaysia, I acquired the habit of using a
fork at meals. Once at table, a dinner guest, a friend of my wife who is also from Taiwan,
saw me commence to eat without chopsticks and asked me, in a sharp, disapproving tone
in Chinese, this question: “Why are you [a Chinese] not using chopsticks?” The first
time this happened to me, it was in my home where I was the host, and the outspoken
objector, my invited guest. I was frankly taken completely by surprise and my jaw
dropped and I had a hard time keeping the food from falling out. There was an awkward
silence for what seemed like infinity. I looked at him and saw that he had been properly
provided with chopsticks. He glared back at me. It was I, the host and master of the
house (together with my wife) who was affronting him, a dinner guest! A range of
emotions passed through my brain. Finally, I decided to keep my decorum and out of
sheer courtesy for my guest, for he was not only a friend of my wife, but also her former
tutor, I quietly asked my wife to bring me a pair of chopsticks. A broad smile beamed
from my guest and dinner was finished before things got too cold.
I have had this same protest directed at me at other Chinese social events. Over the years,
as I grew older and more set in my ways, I simply smile at my detractor, silently dismiss
the comment as a lack of dining etiquette and continue eating Chinese food with a fork, as
I preferred. These days, when I felt sufficiently feisty, I even rebuke that person for not
speaking in English, as the chopsticks demand is inevitably made in Chinese .
I feel the same way about the failure to use English in public, and especially in political
discourse. This is why I feel that it is a poor idea to publicly sing the “Star-Spangled
Banner,” especially in the context of political protest, in any other language than the
original composed English by Francis Scott Key in 1814. And so it is for "Nuestro Himno."
An Opinion by Charleston C. K. Wang, Publisher.