Sunday, April 10, 2005

Pen Pal!

Remember pen pals? Those were the best. Back in the 2nd grade I had a pen pal from CHINA! Her name was Wing Ta. If you were to ask me back then why I picked her, I would have said because I wanted to "learn more about the Chinese culture," but I'll tell you right now that it was totally because of her name. I mean, how often is it you get to meet someone with the first name, Wing???

So anyway, we were instructed to write them and tell them about our families and what our favorite foods and sports were. I, however, being the class-clown-type person that I am, did not do any of that. Instead, I asked her specifically WHY her parents named her Wing. Was there a deeper meaning to it? Did they have an abnormal affection to chicken wings? I also asked her if it caused a lot of people to make fun of her because, "I would totally make fun of you if you went to my school." Ya... I wasn't very nice to Wing come to think of it. So anyway, I ended the letter with, "I hope to hear from you soon, I just checked my fortune cookie and it said I would!"

...Well, weeks went by with no reply. One day after school (a month after sending my pen pal letter) my teacher called me to the front of the room while holding a letter. "A letter from Wing!" I exclaimed. But she didn't seem as excited as I was. She proceeded to sit me down at one of the desks and lay the letter on top for me to read. It wasn't from Wing. It was from her father, a general in the Chinese army (who had kindly attached a picture of himself posing with his sword scarily aimed at the camera (me)). The letter said that, "If you are to EVER attempt speaking with my daughter again, you will face the wrath of the Cobra (apparently a name he had given to his sword).

Wow, this was a lot to take in being only what, 7 years old? I had no idea that simply enjoying someone's name would cause me to become a number one enemy of the Chinese Army/Government. Before I knew it I was getting hundreds of letters in the mail all written in Chinese that I obviously couldn't read, but managed to understand after seeing the pictures of people with their swords (one even showed a picture of them cutting a fortune cookie that had my name on it in half). Needless to say, I was scared for my life. But the most scary part was when my parents received a call from then-President Clinton's Oval Office secretary saying that "Your son has seemed to become a national threat, and China is insisting on us turning him over to them." WHAAAAAAAAAAT???

The worst part is that my parents DID turn me over to them. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to D.C. under the watchful eye of a federal marshall who was sent with me to make sure I "didn't make any rash decisions." But when I got to D.C. everything was finally straightened out. I explained that I was simply "amused at the name Wing" and really wanted to cause no harm to her or the Chinese nation. Clinton spent 9 hours on the phone with the Chinese President Jiang Zemin trying to clear my name. I kept telling him to emphasize the fact that I LOVED what they had done with fried rice and that soy sauce was one of my top three favorite condiments. But for some reason, Clinton laughed at those comments and didn't even use them.

Eventually I was sent back home with a clean record on the condition that I never sent a pen pal letter again. I was also banned from every Chinese restaurant in all 50 United States...

If you don't want to be my friend anymore because I used to be on the National Terrorism Watchlist, I'll understand, but just know that I've changed a lot. At least now you know the true story...