One of the interesting things about teaching anthropology is that you end up wearing your anthropologist’s hat ALL of the time. As such, as simple purchase for your boyfriend’s birthday becomes much more than a quick trip to the mall. Much more…
A while back, TWD mentioned that he would like a scarf.
“Are you kidding me?” I replied. “I was at the flea market this weekend. There were tons of scarves! I could have gotten you one then.”
“I don’t want one of those scarves. I want a nice scarf. Like… you know, like in your blog.”
Right. The Is He Scarf Worthy? blog post I wrote during the early days of my manthropological experiment. How could I have forgotten?
TWD wasn’t even a blip on the radar when I wrote that post but now that he’s been in my life for the past year and a half, it seemed a reasonable request. And one that I was happy to fulfill.
Only it’s been a while. And it takes a while. I love getting involved in overly ambitious textile projects but they usually end in tears and my mother begging me to just “use a glue gun” or—even worse—“wear last year’s dress.”
Not wanting a repeat of the Great Junior Prom Meltdown of 2002, I took a look at my calendar, factored in all of my rehearsals, classes and deadlines and came to the rational, if disappointing conclusion, that it would be physically impossible to weave a scarf in time for TWD’s birthday.
I still had plenty of other good ideas, though. And with three weeks to go, I was feeling pretty good about the state of things. I had the Sake set I’d bought during our trip to NYC over the holidays, my sexy birthday underwear all planned out (complete with my thigh highs, san garter belt though…) and an entire afternoon during which to finish shopping.
That’s where it started to go downhill. I won’t go into details—frankly, they’re embarrassing and I’d rather TWD not know just how close I came to completely striking out—but let’s just say the part when I bought a coffee maker only to discover that TWD already has a coffee maker wasn’t the worst part.
My back up plan was sushi lessons-for-two. Then I realized how much sushi lessons cost, let alone sushi lessons-for-two. I spent hours trawling the internet looking for something more affordable and was finally forced to go with sushi in a box.
Or rather how to make sushi in a box.
I purchased a boxed set complete with an instruction manual, DVD, chopsticks and various other implements, which, in my ignorance, I have to come to refer as “those little things you put your chopsticks on,” “those slightly bigger things you use to hold your soy sauce in” and “that placemat looking thing that you roll your sushi with.”
Wanting to give TWD the complete Asian experience, I decided to throw in a Tai Chi DVD. Never mind that sushi is Japanese and Tai Chi is Chinese, or that TWD doesn’t really want to start doing Tai Chi until he’s retired and has a koi pond… I thought it would make a nice touch.
And then the anthropologist in me said, “WTF?”
Do Asian people buy their boyfriends pizza in a box? Or hamburgers in a box? Or apple pie?
Do they “throw in” square dancing DVDs just for kicks?
Words like “authenticity” and “transmission” began to flash before my eyes. As I decorated the dining room table with origami cranes, I found myself wondering how Japanese folks feel about sushi in a box. And how would TWD feel? Unlike my last boyfriend (who called someone “Oriental” in front of my anthropology professors), he actually knows a lot about Asia. He loves Korean pop music—and loved it before Gangham Style hit the airwaves. He’s basically a walking encyclopedia when it comes to kung fu and he never believes me when I tell him that no, I really can’t hear the difference between Chinese and Japanese.
Would he think sushi-in-a-box was… lame?
Well, fortunately TWD is pretty good natured most of the time and like most men, he’s also easily excited.
He loved the sushi-in-a-box.
And the Tai Chi DVD.
As his girlfriend, I was extremely relieved. But as an anthropologist I still can’t help but think there’s something weird about boxed-up culture.