IRVINE, CA— At every Lunar New Year dinner, Mrs. Wong asks everyone at the table, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Like millions of celebrations across the world where adult children are involved, Mrs. Wong’s kids have to endure this question, which has no correct answer.
“It’s a tradition,” said daughter Lily Wong. “Like making dumplings with the family and washing and cleaning the day before to avoid cleaning on the New Year and sweeping away all the good luck.”
The tradition has not changed since Lily married her wife Yan. Though Mrs. Wong is not only aware of the marriage but extremely supportive – she even sang a song at their wedding – she has continued to ask the same question every year.
“Consistency is key,” said Mrs. Wong. “My two other daughters are single and need boyfriends. And now that Yan is my daughter in law, she’s family and she gets the same question too.”
“I don’t know why but it really works on me,” said Vivian Wong, the youngest daughter. “It makes no sense for her to ask Lily and Yan, but it just puts more pressure on all of us.She’s like an overbearing mom robot. And you can’t win against a fight with a robot.”
“Something about the way she says it too. It just shatters all my confidence” added Cheryl Wong, Mrs. Wong’s oldest daughter and a Chief Financial Officer at a Fortune 500 company. “Why don’t I have a boyfriend?” she wondered, suddenly looking sad.
As her husband Mr. Wong sat down for dinner, she turned to him and asked, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “I’m focusing on my career!” the retired 64 year old man replied out of panic. Mr. Wong told a reporter that the way she looks right into your eyes when she asks makes it feel like you should do something.
Mrs. Wong knows her methods are unusual, but they also make total sense. “If you are training a dog, you say ‘sit’ every time you want him to sit. But you also say ‘sit’ when other dogs are around and you want those dogs to sit too. Right?” she told us. “By the way, do you have a boyfriend?”
And it has worked. Lily was single and closeted just two years ago, but has since met and married her wife. The family still remembers when three years ago, Lily stood up at the dinner table and shouted, “Don’t you mean, why don’t I have a girlfriend?!”
“I’m really proud of Lily,” Mrs. Wong told us, “But don’t tell her that because she knows she owes me grand kids.”
“I guess I’m fine with it. It’s become a tradition at this point.” said daughter in law Yan. “But I wish she’d let go of the tradition of bathing all of us before the New Year. That makes me uncomfortable.”