Monkey Business


I finished my Chinese New Year Checklist just in the nick of time!  I spent all of Saturday purging and cleaning and boy did it feel good.  I sorted, cleaned, and tossed, all the while enjoying a tin of Fortnum and Mason’s pistachio and clotted cream biscuits and sipping on peppermint tea.

I realize that the tin is about a foot long, and yes there wasn’t a crumb left in that tin when I was done with my spring cleaning.  But they were so good and I thought the monkey on the tin was very Chinese New Year 2016 appropriate!  Not to mention that tidying up is a wonderful experience best enjoyed relaxed and happy.  I’m sure Marie Kondo would have approved.  Those cookies spark joy in me indeed.

1. I purged my inbox.

2. Purged and reorganized my closet.

3. Did several loads of laundry including the sheets and floor mats.

4. Reorganized all kitchen drawers and cupboards.

5. Cleaned and scrubbed out the fridge.

6. Had the cleaning lady come over for a sweep, dust, and vacuum.

7. Gathered together with family for dim sum.

8. And just when I thought I had forgotten to buy fresh flowers, Paul showed up after work surprising me with beautiful white orchids on Monday!  My favourite!


This Chinese New Year was also Paul’s first celebration and he learned a thing or two about what it means to be Chinese.

1. We kill to pay.

Paul witnessed his first Chinese drama of fighting over the bill that occurs when family honour is on the line.  In fact, he was in the middle of throes of it while I was in the bathroom (sneaky Clara!).  I had sent him early in the meal to give my credit card and to make sure he told them not to let Clara, my Dad’s girlfriend, pay.  Ama had told me in advance that she wanted to pay so like a good granddaughter I had to be quick and sly about it.  Throw them off by sending Paul!  Ha!

Rule #1: You have to think ahead, get creative, be smart!  

As soon as he got up (pretending to go to the bathroom), eyes started shifting and murmurs began to start about whether he had gone to pay or whether he had gone to the bathroom.  I threw them off the scent by assuring them he had gone to the bathroom and because it was so early in the meal, the suspicions died down immediately.  Little did they know that I was smart enough to send the only inconspicuous Caucasian boy!  If I had gone up the whole table would surely have risen to their feet ready to lunge for the cashier.

Rule #2: Be careful about pretending to go to the bathroom to pay.  That’s the oldest trick in the book and everyone knows it.

After Clara and Ama argued over who was eventually going to pay for the meal, I whispered into Ama’s ear, “Don’t worry, Paul didn’t really go to the bathroom.  He went to give them my credit card.”  We got this Ama!

Towards the end of the meal, Ama got up to go to the bathroom.  I got up with her thinking about signing the bill along the way but decided to wait since we hadn’t ordered dessert yet.  When we got back to the table, I asked everyone if they wanted to order dessert.  That’s when Paul told me, “Clara already paid.” Ama and I quickly turned our heads to him in SHOCK.

“WHAT???” I said in disbelief.


“She ran up to the counter, I followed her and grabbed the credit card machine but she snatched it back.  I don’t understand, I told the waitress when I gave your credit card not to let her pay.  I don’t understand!”

“Did you tackle her??”


“You should have tackled her!! Jumped on her and pinned her to the ground!”

“It doesn’t matter if he gave the credit card first, ” Clara said. “I always win!”

Rule #3: You kill to pay, you fight until you win!

When we got home Ama told me she was worried that Paul felt bad. “Let’s tell him we were just pretending to be mad so that he doesn’t feel bad,” she said.

She went up to Paul and said, “Don’t worry, we were just pretending to be mad. ”

Paul looked up at her confused.

“We were just pretending!  Do you feel better now?  See, I made up a story so that you won’t feel bad.  You don’t feel bad anymore, right?”

Rule #4 Amazing 90-year old grandmothers like Ama will always be amazing.  Don’t let them down next time!  

2. You don’t eat the wax paper.

Paul had cramps the next morning and found out after going the bathroom that the culprit was the wax paper from the char siu bao (insert crying laughing emoticon) that was so stuck to the bottom that he swallowed it and sent it down his intestines.  He said he tasted it in his mouth halfway but didn’t want to be rude and spit it out (insert crying laughing emoticon again!).

Don’t worry, it only happens once!  Except it normally happens when you’re a kid (insert crying laughing emoticon once more!)!

How did you celebrate your Chinese New Year? Happy Year of the Monkey!

– SS




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: