Day 186: NYC

Spontaneous trips to NYC is a thing for my parents. They actually wanted to go last weekend, but after I pointed out it didn’t seem like that they had any tangible plans other than Chinatown, they didn’t go. I mean, it’s not that that hasn’t stopped them before. Throughout childhood, my sister and I would make these spontaneous trips with them, spending weekends when they weren’t as busy with work shopping and eating in Chinatown and balancing their wants with ours by watching Broadway shows.

I suppose my comment resonated with them a bit and prompted some research, because the night before leaving, my dad asked again if I wanted to go and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Museums, or anything American culture-related, and my parents don’t mix. His desire to go actually surprised me, but I myself have never been either, so why not? (Not surprisingly, my sister didn’t go due to plans to go to the beach with her friends.)

Funnily enough, none of us had any concrete plans other than the museum. In fact, my mom booked the hotel for our one-night stay literally right before we left for what ended up being a lucky three-and-a-half-hour drive (it has taken us more than seven hours with extreme traffic). While in the car, my parents were calling and messaging all these Chinese friends they knew in the city about meeting for dinner.

Having arrived earlier than expected with a few hours left till dinner with people I’ve never met, we shopping along Canal Street and West Broadway (the Met would be the next day). Another surprise: my dad was the one who ended up actually buying clothes. He goes shopping maybe twice a year. I also couldn’t help but obsess over how so many people dressed so stylishly, even on such a touristy street as Broadway.

Unfortunately, CoCo was a bit too far for us to walk to, so of course the first boba shop I saw with good reviews (Chatime), I bought myself a hot milk tea drink.

We then walked to the restaurant Congee Village, passing through Little Italy.

NYC's Little Italy
Still hard to believe I’ll see the real Italy within days.
Congee Village NYC
First three dishes: decadent (expensive) seafood.

My parents’ friends know the owner of the restaurant. She was a character. As soon as she saw me, she said, “Wow, you’re beautiful. How old are you? 21? My son’s 23! No, seriously. Let me set you two up. I can call him right now to come down. Let me show you a picture of him.” Calls a server: “Get me my phone.” Within minutes, she was showing the whole table of guests a photo of his son. My response throughout the ordeal? Smile and laugh. Just smile and laugh, I told myself, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Maybe she won’t notice I’m not actually answering any of her questions.

So this woman actually called up her son while standing in front of our table, telling a hilarious lie that she had “something to give him.” Later in the night, he actually showed up. Twice. Both times he refused his mom’s demands to sit at our table and chat. I mean, what sane person would sit at a table full of strangers while your mom watched you and tried pushing you to mingle with a girl she’s trying to set you up with? The second time he came, he was polished up in a dress shirt and pants ready to go out with his friends. Clearly, the “adults” at the table only had good things to say about his seemingly impressive appearance. He’s a good kid, he’s a good kid. He just looks like he’s good kid. L-O-L.

Oh, and that’s not all from this woman. Claiming to know how to read hands, she took mine and then shook her head, silent. Upon insistent curious questioning on what she “saw,” (Come on! What is it? Is it bad??) she basically said I’m going to be poor and have one boy and two girls.

“But wait, I’m seriously going to give her everything and support her,” my dad countered, laughing at how ridiculous my life of impending poverty sounded.

“Yes, but she won’t use it or enjoy it. She’ll want to be financially independent,” the woman said.

Well, that sounded pretty accurate to me. I believe her. I’m a journalist. She knows what’s up. This woman is also so anti-feminist it’s scary. Even as an owner of a restaurant for more than 18 years, she insists upon a not-uncommon view that women only have two choices in life: forget a career to get married and have kids, or pursue a successful career and have no partner or family.

Ah well, I guess we’ll see if her predictions are true. Again, I don’t know why, but I choose to believe her.

Group photo
#Chinese. This infamous woman I speak of is the one on the far right.