Dim Sum with Cartoon Characters

Food for Thought @ Jing Fong

Grace asked me if I wanted to join her on Sunday for dim sum. In my head, I was imagining a big Chinese family (although in her case it would be Taiwanese) sitting around a big round table, which for me is an opportunity I would not want to miss. In the end, it was a table for six where Grace and I were the only Asians. There was something about these people that seemed like characters on Cartoon Network.

One of them is a primary school teacher who was generally deadpan but had a few other preset expressions. When we finished eating, she left without saying, “It was nice to meet you,” or anything of that sort, which I found refreshing. I’m not worried about offending her with my characterization of her because she told us she’s never owned a smartphone. She had a dumbphone that she rarely uses.

There was also a tall, giggly accountant who stole the limelight from the teacher by revealing to us that he doesn’t even own a dumbphone. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that because my brain was busy trying to figure out what that means.

I got my first cell phone (Motorola StarTAC) in the mid-90s. Before that, I did live without a cell phone, but that was when nobody had it. The societal expectations were different then. Today, I’m not sure how I would coordinate anything with others without my iPhone. So I asked him if he had any friends. He said no. I assume it was a joke, but then there might be some truth to it too; after all, it must be frustrating for his friends. They would need to figure out when they would be able to contact him.

On the way home, I got yelled at by a bicyclist for looking down at my phone while walking. Unlike most people, I do not have any sense of shame about being glued to screens. I’ve always wondered why screens, including TVs, bring about so much guilt.

If I were a cartoon character, I’d like a double-sided computer screen literally glued to my face. The public-facing side would have the smile emoji by default, and it would automatically change to the appropriate emoji for any given social situation. That way, my facial muscles wouldn’t be so sore at the end of the day.