A Complete & Total Farce
I went on a two-week jaunt to Hong Kong this year. I went "by myself," but not really. My father has cousins-like-brothers on that side of the world, and he has always spoken so highly of them. I knew I would have a safe place to stay, that I would meet first cousins, and be treated well.
Being treated well is an understatement. I was treated like royalty.
In Asian cultures, the sense of hospitality is incredibly filial and loyal. A traditionally patriarchal society, one wonders of the dichotomy between family values, family loyalty, and the strangely accepted modern betrayal model. I am not sociologist, but I suspect this may have something to do with the legacy of keeping concubines, slowly distilled to having multiple wives, now more slowly distilled to mistresses and affairs. As society changes, the model shifts from open acceptance in a "morally" accepted culture to what in this day in age could be called a scandal.
I have many thoughts about this, obviously. Growing up in an American context, affairs have always been more scandalous than not. What is jarring is going to Asia and seeing with my own eyes the silent acceptance beneath the deep, deep layers of hurt. How many times have wives, several decades into a marriage, said to me, "This is natural. It happens to everyone. This is normal."
No. A vehement no.
Many "aunties" – older females usually one generation above you within your family's social circle, blood or not – now speak in open references of affairs with me. As if I am a safe space. As if I do not know their husbands. As if I do not know their children. As if I do not know that at this wedding, yes, I am sitting between two women who have shared a bed with the same married man. And this is potentially awkward, but I'll follow all your social cues and pretend it didn't happen. Because, well, everyone is over it by now.
Open secrets are not secrets at all, so let's just call it for what it is – a complete and total farce.