Not for You! « Shoot Me Now

Shoot Me NowNot for You!

Not for You!
Published on Friday, December 19, 2008 by

Joss Paper

Yesterday I had a few minutes to kill before I picked up my daughter. Across the street from the school? An Asian market – yes! I love shopping in this store. I always purchase Panko bread crumbs, candied ginger, and occasionally noodles for Pho soup.

With Christmas (and my mother) on my mind, I visited the furthest aisle, containing wonderful Asian dishes and kitchenware. It was there that I found the most beautiful Chinese paper. My choice was a mix of reds, golds, prints and even some sticks, which I assumed were for a flag of some sort. (OK, I didn’t think about that one very deeply…)

My arms full, I happily walked to the checkout, where an older woman and her husband were working. As I placed my items on the counter, her eyes grew wide. Immediately she swiped the pack of papers from my loot and held it up to her husband, speaking loudly with a bit of agitation in her voice – in Chinese.

He looked at the packet, looked at me, looked back at the packet (notice the line forming behind me) – then he said, “You no buy!” What? Why not? “Not for you…!” said the woman – and then she spoke with even greater agitation to her husband – in Chinese.

Finally, he turned to me and said, “For Dead People.” I stood for a moment, frozen in place. Did I hear that correctly? Then he said it again. “This for Dead People!” Ohhhhhh! I get it! I said, “These are used to burn in memory of family members who have died!?” Both began nodding their head with great vigor. I said, “Well, what about the other pa—“ “No, NO PAPER!”

I tried to graciously get through the moment, thanking them for telling me before I bought them for my mother. She is still alive, after all! I paid for my purchases, but as I wrote my check, I realized they were both still talking back and forth and were LAUGHING! I said, “Wait a minute! You two are laughing at me!” They both laughed even harder and simply said, “Yes!”

Now, I am Catholic – a religion simply brimming with tradition. In all honesty, I am grateful they did not let me buy the paper. The last thing I want to do is a.) put some bad “mojo” on my mother and b.) disrespect this beautiful Chinese tradition. BUT – as I scampered out of the Asian market, I couldn’t help but lick my stupid ignorant American wounds!

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