(dad story) interior design is for girls

I arrived at the restaurant tonight (for the third night in two weeks — the first couple times were to help paint the walls and doors) and my dad sees me, and again, because of his uncanny TOTAL lack of Sherlock Holmes skills, asks, “What are you doing here?”

“It’s nine PM. Think about it for a minute — why would I be here right now?” (Though I personally have adapted Latin hours for my own meal times, I would have to say most of our customers have not.)

“I have no idea. What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to help put up the wallpaper lining.

“Put up wallpaper lining?! Who has the time or energy to help YOU put up wallpaper lining! Don’t you have anything better to do!”

. . . and this is why my dad’s not the boss around here.

(Not my dad. But a similar likeness! From bitly.com/SZeBHk)


if you’re crazy and you know it

This was all over Facebook on Father’s Day.

I want to tell you about my dad today. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, here — this isn’t a whine-fest. The point is to implore you to understand that while my mom is usually here to compensate for his crazy, sometimes some of you may have the misfortune of coming into conflict with him . . . and this is the result of a number of factors; I’d say it’s his being a fob (so not being entirely culturally aware), his personality, and the fact that he is very set in his ways.

(Let’s face it — a lot of people at a certain age are just not going to change.)

He’s not a bad guy. In fact, your heart would smile if you ever saw him interacting with children and animals. I inherited my passion for all critters from him, and he will make the kindest and most patient grandpa one day. Truly.

The problem lies in his interactions with grown people who can communicate with words. I’ve seen him complain about servers at other restaurants, yet not tolerate when there are certain customers here that complain.

In any business open to the general public, you’re going to run into people who are different from you with different expectations and different backgrounds. Not everyone is going to be ideal or act perfectly (and that includes us).  If and when we mess up, you have every right to bring it up to us and we will take responsibility for it and do our best to rectify it for you. My mom, my sister, and I all get that, but for whatever reason, my dad missed class the day that lesson was taught.

Oddly, he just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that in every interaction there are other points of views than his own. This has been the root of most of the conflicts between him and me, my sister, or my mother, and even though we’ve tried every tactic under the sun to explain to him he has to be able to see things the way another person would, it just simply isn’t in his nature.

Sometimes it works in his favor: He raised me believing that alcohol consumption was wrong/bad, and as a result I never had my first glass of wine until I was 21 (even though I was already living in Italy at the time, where it was legal). It took me a long time to eventually grasp that it’s not the alcohol that’s bad, but that it’s the abuse of it that is.

Thing is, he’s so set in his ways that he hardly takes the time to ever explain why he thinks the way he does. He just makes very frank and sometimes controversial statements (that must be where I get it from . . .) that perhaps would make sense if we bothered to debate it, but let’s face it. No one has the energy to debate it because he’s never wrong. (If you can’t read the sarcasm there, please go back and do so now.)

Bottom line, I’m issuing a very public apology to anyone out there who’s ever been directly offended by my father. He just doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Take this story, for instance:

One day at the restaurant, my mom angrily gets off the phone and tells me, “Your father is locked inside the gates at a delivery customer’s apartment because they got into an argument.”

Another time —

The phone rings. My mom answers and starts frantically asking questions. She hangs up and tells me, “Your father just finished delivering something and now he’s waiting for the cops.”

The first time I checked our reviews on Yelp:

Someone mentioned that the delivery guy had yelled at them for using Grubhub instead of the Mei Shung website. We all know who that delivery guy was.

. . . so please forgive us.

If you’ve had an issue with Daddy dearest, I’d like to suggest two ways to proceed:

1. Adopt this philosophy:

Thank you, Jessica Ortner, for this post on Facebook today.

or (and this is a bit easier) . . .

2. Make it funny.

If you need an example, here’s a terrific one that I got from my friend and energy healer Ryan Fukuda (which he posted to Facebook yesterday):

If you are feeling down and need a little amusement, just take a ride on the CTA. A woman is yelling at everyone on the bus about how we need to “live life to the fullest and to eat #&$@ing everything” . . . and now she can’t even get out of her seat. A guy in a wheelchair is trying to help her get out of the seat . . . no one else is helping . . . and then she had a finale by talking about vagina . . . and . . . She’s gone. I love Chicago.

Unpalatable situations just need a dose of humor.

As my friends always say to new people who’ve never been to Mei Shung:

“You might get yelled at, but the food is incredible.”

To be fair, most of the time you come in, you’ll be fine. But we can’t guarantee he won’t be all nuts to you — unless you happen to be three years old or be a fluffy mammal on a leash.

From Marriott Rewards on Facebook. AWWW.

The takeaway? We are often as shocked and as put off by his shenanigans as you are. But we’d love to make it up to you in great food . . . and worst case, you can just ask for Cindy.

eyewitness reports from the children of fobby parents

the book cover

I’m a huge advocate of sharing the love for the entertaining or informative via social media — so, get ready for some cross-promotion (and no, I’m not paid for this): One of the funniest blogs addressing the awkward and often hilarious cultural divide between Asian parents and their American children is mymomisafob.com, and its partner mydadisafob.com (it’s loving, not judgmental). I just found out that My Mom is a Fob has been published as a book (!! So envious), with a foreword by Margaret Cho(!!!) so of course I had to claim a copy for the restaurant.

Some cute entries so far include:

Me: So Nini has a new boyfriend.

Mom: Ooooh? What is he?

Me: Um, Vietnamese . . .

Mom: Oh! That good, very good.

Me: And Mexican.

Mom: So he a tamale eggroll.


Mom: Keep play basketball. You will grow taller!

Me: I’m 29 years old. I think I’ve stopped growing by now.

Mom: No, you can growing! Everyone growing all the time!
Me: . . .

Mom: Also, keep jumping!

. . . and my personal favorite, from mydadisafob.com:

I sent my dad a video of me skydiving. He emailed me back the following . . .

oh my god,

rona, it is really danger game, pls stop it !

think about ur mom, when she 85 years old, who will cook for her, and who will wash her diapers ?

i am too old at that time . pls stop any danger game now .

peace / safe / health .


After I finish chuckling at (and relating to) the book, it’ll find a permanent home at the restaurant at the checkout counter, alongside $#*! My Dad Says, for you to flip through in case you’re waiting for takeout . . . or even not. [Update: I finished the book the same day I got it. So both books are now there for you to enjoy.]

Do you have any endearing parental fob stories to share? Post ’em to Facebook or comment on this post (do I smell a new contest opportunity . . . ?).

And rest assured, our own parents-are-fobs stories from Stephanie’s and my end will definitely be broadcast as they come. [Update: Of course, the moment my mom sees the book cover on this post, she warns: “Careful, if they see this, they could sue you.” . . . Who needs a book, after all, when you’ve got the living thing right in front of you? :P]

[Update no. 2: After I placed the books at the counter, ten minutes later I found them back in front of me at the table. “Yours?” my dad asked, and when I put them back, he called me crazy.]

blissfully unaware

my sister, always to the point

Remember Justin Halpern’s famous tweets & resulting memoirs, $#*! My Dad Says? I read the book a while back, and the whole reason why I picked it up during that trip to Barnes & Noble was because I could relate. My dad is full of the random, and I knew when I started this blog that he would be a tremendous source of laughs. I started our “dad stories” series back in December with tales about his boots and his inability to accept Christmas presents (or gifts of any sort, really), but I think my sister’s one Facebook status from yesterday trumped any long-winded story I have ever written you, so look out for brief “tweet”-like posts in the future, borrowed from either of us for your entertainment. Without further ado, here is what she said:

“My dad wore a ‘Happy Halloween’ sweater on Easter.”

The morning after she posted this, she had 20 likes.

happy holidays

’Tis the season of giving, and I’m crazy about it. Every year I do my holiday gift shopping year-round so as to give my inner circle well-thought-out and personalized gifts, and as such, I’ve earned a reputation among my friends and family as a warm and awesome gift giver. I love the anticipation of the holidays and of my loved ones’ reactions at the gems I’ve packaged up for them this year.

However. In all my life I have never seen my father receive a single gift with grace or gratitude. He’s also never given a gift that wasn’t cash. I firmly believe that the art of giving is a multifaceted endeavor involving participation from both sides; a giver must put thought and love into the present, and the receiver must recognize the effort behind such a thing and appreciate it enough to accept it.

This man will play Sudoku all afternoon long every day for months, and if you buy him a Holiday Sudoku book, he’ll leave it at home and when you point out he never took it with him to work, he mutters, “Return it.”

One year I got him a pair of classic black Converse chucks, because he’d marveled with nostalgia when he’d seen mine, murmuring with stars in his eyes about how he used to wear those shoes when he was in high school. I thought it’d be a cute idea, and even splurged on some insoles to ease his feet of the chucks’ flat shape. “Return them,” he replied. “I’m way too old to wear shoes like that.”

When I was little and hopeful, I gave him a nice leather Guess wallet for Father’s Day. And ended up using it as my own a few years later.

It’s not just presents from me, either. My sister Stephanie (alias Moose) has secretly plotted to me that she wants to donate half his clothes on the sly, because he’s been wearing the same hole-riddled clothes for decades and he has a closet filled with new clothing other people have bought him years ago, never worn. For someone so frugal, he sure knows how to let spent money go to waste!

Last year, Moose got him a pair of hardcore, quality men’s snowboots to protect him in the blizzards during deliveries. He tried them on once, grunted that they were too hard, and had her refund the $150+ boots in favor of, picture this:

Wearing grocery bags around his stockinged feet.

. . . Inserted into pink fabric-lined black women’s boots from Target.

Supposedly, this year Moose has done the impossible and managed to draw a wild card from our father’s deck of unpredictability. She took him shopping and somehow managed to get him to pick out stuff he wanted (unheard of, as the man has never shopped for pleasure in his life) and asked him if she should gift wrap them.

“Sure, wrap them,” he told her.

It must be a holiday miracle.