I was chatting to my Chinese friend Rocky (alias the Hunan boy) the other day at the gym when he suddenly asked:
-You Na, when are you getting married?
(I guess it's only in China that this question is so normal that you don't even feel that someone is intruding on your private life)
-Not anytime soon, I answered.
-Why not? You have a boyfriend, right?
-Yes, I do. But he's not really into the whole marriage thing.
Rocky looked revolted.
-Not into? What do you mean not into?
-Well maybe he doesn't want to get married? Well at least not now. And neither do I, I quickly added.
-But... you guys have been together for a long time, right?
-So you should get married?!
-Hm... marriage isn't such a must-do where I come from as it is in China, I tried. Rocky looked completely oblivious to what I was saying.
-I think you need to raise your demands! He suddenly said. You should demand that you guys get married.
-But... like... I don't want to demand it. I don't even want to get married? Well not now anyways.
-Of course you do. Aren't you romantic?
-Well, sure... I like romance... at times! But I seriously don't see marriage as the most important thing in life.
-Is your boyfriend romantic?
-Eh... (I guessed I couldn't just say "He's from Finland" here and get the "ahhh OK I see...." -response that I normally get from people. Having a boyfriend from the country of vodka and sauna sort of speaks for itself, but I had a feeling that Rocky knew very little about Finland and Finnish people.) No... he's not that romantic. But neither am I. It's OK.
Rocky looked even more disgusted than before.
-So he doesn't.... look after you?!!!
-I don't need any looking after! I am an independent woman (holy crap -that's a cliche I never thought I'd speak out loud. Thank lord I said it in Chinese and not English).
Rocky still looked as if someone had punched him hard in the stomach.
-You see, I said, eager to try to redeem both myself and my boyfriend before we turned into cactuses in Rocky's mind. I know that Chinese girls like to have a boyfriend that looks after them.. that calls them all the time.... that carries their handbag...
-...and their shopping bags! he added. (I had to concentrate hard to force back the laughter).
-But where I come from it is different.
-So men from your country aren't romantic?
(What's with the whole generalizing all the time?! ALL men from Scandinavia aren't romantic just because my boyfriend isn't?! Sure, Scandinavia isn't the most populated place on earth but there are still quite a few people living there!!?!)
-Eh Yes. They are. It is just my boyfriend that isn't. (And some others I am sure -but I didn't say this)
-So why don't you choose someone else?
Oh loooooord... I give up. Talking about marriage and romance with some Chinese people is like having a conversation with a wall. If they guy/girl isn't according to their standards (a guy should make money, have a good education, be tall, carry women's handbags/shopping, and be romantic. A woman shouldn't drink alcohol or go to nightclubs, be thin and not taller than the man -a good job/edu helps too I suppose) it is as if they think: "so why bother, get someone else?"
-You should raise your demands. Rocky said again before I left the gym. Ask for more. Say you want to get married. Say you want romance.
-Mmm sure. I murmured, mastered a smile and left.
I'm thinking about getting myself a fake engagement ring in order to avoid this conversation to take place again. You think my boyfriend would freak out?