In-Lawed at The 88s

fish out of water

I have not read a blog entry as funny as “In-Lawed” in a long time. The author describes the various ways that his Chinese in-laws–under normal circumstances “generally reasonable and open people”–are gradually driving him insane during their visit to the US. Just two examples of these “small things”:

> – Dad, I got you the chicken McNuggets. I got you the little cup of ketchup for them. I got you a hot fudge sundae. I then watched in amazement as you dipped each of your ten McNuggets into your hot fudge sundae. I explained that the ketchup was for dipping, the sundae was desert. You slathered each McNugget in hot fudge and ice cream anyway. Dad, you rock.

> – Mom can’t be in the sun. Apparently she is a vampire and the sun melts vampires. Mom can’t be in the car. She gets car sick after 10 minutes. Mom doesn’t like to walk. It is too tiring. Mom doesn’t like to fly. It is too expensive. Mom wants to know where we are going today.

There are 14 more of these, and the above were not the funniest ones. Just read it.

I think part of the reason I am so amused by this story is that I know that in a year or two I will be in the exact same situation. I am pretty sure my in-laws will be a lot more “international” in their behavior, but I could be dead wrong. Hilarity could very well ensue for me as well.

P.S. The 88s is a great blog, and I should read it more often, but I’ve been so busy with work lately that I’ve been reading only about three blogs. So I must admit that I found this article through the Hao Hao Report.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. That was hilarious. I’m now going to spend the next 10 minutes repeating “oh my god my in-laws are so cool.”

  2. Tooo funny. I do feel sorry for the guy though….

  3. Haha… thanks for the link. When I got to this part, I almost died..
    “Or maybe they squatted on the side of the road for a smoke in the crap-taking position?”

  4. Happy SIX YEAR anniversary in China, John!

  5. Da Xiangchang Says: August 11, 2006 at 12:42 am

    “In a year or two I will be in the exact same situation”?!! Damn, everyone I know is getting married! It’s funny, but I like my friends getting married, though it doesn’t persuade ME to get married anytime soon. 😉

  6. Apparently he can dish it out but can’t take it. My comment making fun of him for getting ketchup with chicken nuggets was rejected.

  7. @proteal: Apparently you jump to conclusions. Your comment was caught in my spam filter. And I un-killed it as soon as I noticed it.

  8. Hey John… score one for The Hao Hao Report! 😉 I’m glad it’s getting used. I loved that 88s post too! (big reason why I hao’d it I guess hehe). Currently it’s rated #4 in the top stories… nice job 88!

    As I’m soon to have Chinese inlaws of my own… it’s got me aprehensive to say the least 😉

  9. I expect it’ll move up to number one pretty fast.

    Unless of course, Pepe Q-tip gives him a run for his money!

  10. Umm, so John — you’re married?

  11. Hahaaaaaa….I can’t even get past the knife part, the noodles are coming out my nose.

  12. the thing ive never understood is why chinese get so mad when we have a little lighthearted joke. when i lived in china, i took CONSTANT BALLS ON INSULTS about how bad out food was, how fat we are, how lazy we are, our crap politics, etc, etc, etc. and they werent meant to be jokes. straight up insults.

    i read some of the comments on the guy’s post and i still get confused. what the junk? why cant we make lighthearted observations when the chinese are crapping us out at every turn?? i just dont get it. ALL IN GOOD FUN YO! obviously this guy cares about his wife and her family and the chinese because he took the time to learn about it or he wouldnt have driven them around for a MONTH. a MONTH, holy smokes, good on you buddy.

    but i totally related to EVERYTHING he said. very funny stuff.

  13. Lantian,

    Am I married? Hmmm, that’s a question that seems so simple, but the answer actually isn’t. I think I’ll write something about that soon…

  14. Shutty: What comments are you talking about? All I see is comments like “wow, I’m the same way with my in-laws!”

    My favorite racist statements are about Xinjiang people. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Xinjiang in any possible context without being told that Xinjiang people steal.

  15. Da Xiangchang Says: August 13, 2006 at 12:21 am


    The reason Chinese people get pissed off easily is cuz they’re insecure. When you know deep down you’re not even close to being the “best,” you become very easily offended. Americans generally don’t get insulted easily cuz they know they’re the “best”–i.e., the richest, most powerful people on earth. The Chinese aren’t there yet and would remain insecure for at least another 50 years.


    I would LOVE to see the crime statistics of Xinjiang people in Han cities. And I would bet you anything, they DO commit a lot more crimes per capita than others. There are always some truth to stereotypes.

  16. Perhaps you’re right (although the amount of crime in Shanghai is so low, I’m also guessing they steal very very little, even if it’s more than an average Han Chinese)…but whether this tidbit of information if true or not isn’t the point, it’s the fact that it’s mentioned every single time Xinjiang comes up in any context that is amusing.

    Personally the people I talk to aren’t bashing American food or their fat people or whatever. But I hear about it so often from others, I guess I’m just lucky.

  17. Aren’t the Equatorial Guineans the richest people on earth by GDP, followed by Lichtenstein?

  18. Da Xiangchang Says: August 15, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    “Equatorial Guineans the richest people on earth”?!! No, no, no, maybe for sub-Saharan Africa, not on earth. Lichenstein’s population is like 30,000. Not 30 million, 30 thousand. That’s not a country but an extended family. It’s always easy to say “we’re richest” when you’re a itsy-bitsy monarchy. You might as well claim Beverly Hills is a country–it’s far bigger (and richer), in any case, than Lichenstein.

  19. Sorry that should have been Bermuda ($69 900 compared to $42 200 PPP for US) according to this link.

    The other countries are Luxembourg, Equatorial Guinea, and Norway, in descending order.

    Hope this doesn’t make you feel any less secure to be no. 5, that’s still a pretty good result. You’re right though, they are small countries, however they are recognized as countries nonetheless.

  20. Da Xiangchang Says: August 20, 2006 at 1:40 am


    I wrote “the richest, most powerful people on earth.” There are many ways to interpret “richest”–by per capita, by the entire GDP, by how much impact this nationality has on the world economy, etc. You chose the per-capita route and propped up “countries” whose combined population is less than a Shanghai neighborhood. Unsurprisingly, you ignored the “most powerful people” half of my opinion. So . . . if you want to to designate Burmudans as “the richest, most powerful people on earth,” you go right ahead. But nothing you’ve written or linked has contradicted one single thing of my statement.

  21. Jeff,

    I would LOVE to see the crime statistics of Xinjiang people in Han cities. And I would bet you anything, they DO commit a lot more crimes per capita than others. There are always some truth to stereotypes.

    I really try to avoid stereotyping, but I did observe that the downtown area of Qingdao attracts a fair number of pre-teen and young teenaged mostly male Uighur children; a pair tried to open my bag, and on another occasion, I warned a Chinese woman whose wallet was about to be lifted from her unzipped purse. That Uighur children might be more likely to resort to petty crime makes sense since undocumented migrant children cannot attend cheap state-sponsored schools. Keeping kids off the streets is one reason why the US provides free education to illegal immigrant children.

  22. Da Xiangchang

    I ignored the ‘most powerful people’ part as I don’t happen to disagree with it. I never said Bermudans are the most powerful people on earth but they’re certainly a lot richer than Americans on average. If you want to use the total GDP as a measure of how rich someone is, well then Chinese are the third richest people in the world. However, who would you consider richer? 100 people with $100 each or two people with $4000 each? By your analysis, the hundred people are much richer. Obviously this is a hard pill for you to swallow.

  23. Da Xiangchang Says: August 21, 2006 at 7:29 am
  24. Be careful with per capita income figures as they do not reflect income distribution. Let’s say Country A has a per capital income of $45,000 and Country B $40,000, but in Country A, the top 10% controls 80% of the wealth while in Country B, the top 10% controls 40% of the wealth. On paper, Country A is richer, but the people in Country B enjoy a higher standard of living.

    My guess about Bermuda is the that seemingly high per capita income reflects the presence of tax-fleeing corporations and individuals and that Bermuda’s population is divided into a collection of wealthy foreigners, government leaders and landowners, and the poor masses with a very small indigenous middle-class dependent on tourism. Equatorial Guinea leaped to the top because of the discovery of oil reserves; it is a corrupt nation whose businesses are owned mostly by government officials and their relatives with an income distribution much like Country A in the above example.

  25. You got me there, that bumps the US up to no. 4, and there’s no shame in that.

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