Saturday, May 3, 2008

When East Meets West: Ep 1

While I was taking a breather today, I recalled next week is Mother's Day and reminded myself I must send a card off to my MIL. This is the first year I can co-sign the card, you see.

Thinking about her always makes me think about the time when we both went to the World Museum in Liverpool. When we reached the section about Marine Life, we looked around for a sea cucumber in the aquariums. I'd been telling her about how we Chinese eat it and she'd wanted to see it.
We wandered into a section where they kept erm... what do you call it.. those stuffed samples of animals? and looked for it. Couldn't find it, so she asked one of the museum staff, "Do you have any sea cucumbers?" "Yes, we do! Just come here with me!" he beamed at us, pleased someone was interested.
So we trotted after him and he pulled out a glass case with the carefully kept remains of a sea cucumber. "Ooh..." we went. He started his lecture, "This is a sea cucumber... Latin name Ihaveforgottenus whatziswas. It lives in so-and-so place and its main diet is so-and-so icky things. The most amazing thing about a sea cucumber is that when it is attacked, it can expel its intestines and confuse the attacker, enabling it to swim away." He ended his mini lecture with a wave of his hands (bye-bye sea cucumber, you forgot your intestines!) and smiled at us, clearly expecting us to praise his efforts or ask more questions.

I know he never saw what was coming. Beaming back at him, my MIL gestured at me and said warmly, "She eats them, you know! She's Chinese, they eat sea cucumbers!"

You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that followed.

My MIL was beaming, I was smiling apologetically at the young man and he was looking simply horrified that I was so.... so.... uncivilised as to be eating something like a sea cucumber, the poor harmless thing.
Finally, he recovered his senses and quickly placed the glass case back. He managed a stiff, "Oh. Right." and walked away as quickly as he could as we burst into laughter.

Happy Mother's Day to my MIL!

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