Friday, February 6, 2009

Lantern Festival

Today my boss and her husband took James and me out to a spicy hot pot dinner. Boss and Boss' Husband are stoked on me being a Christian because they're Christians too. They asked me to say grace at dinner.

It's cool we pray to the same God, but Boss is always hassling me to go to church. I've told her I sometimes go to church in Taipei, which is true: I went to church twice in December. But today she hounded me into promising I'd go to church with her sometime.

"Boss, I won't understand anything."

"Maybe you will!"

Dress up in tarty Santa suits, pretend I work at KFC, go to Chinese Church - the things I do for this woman. Good thing I find her so endearing.

Boss also made sure to point out the congealed duck blood in the soup.

"That's blood. We are Christians, so don't eat that."

"Christians don't eat blood? I didn't know that."

"Really? No Christians in Taiwan eat blood."

"Oh. Well, in America nobody eats blood."

I've had blood before at Dim Sum, it's not my favorite, but I figured I better lay off if all the other believers at the table were. To satisfy my conscience, I went home and Googled "Can Christians eat blood?" The English-speaking Christian blogosphere appears to have no beef with blood eating.

After dinner we walked to the Taoyuan Lantern Festival. There were lanterns that looked like dragons, radishes, tigers, Buddhas, SpongeBob SquarePants, Nemo, and lots and lots of oxen.

People were lighting incense at several altars on the grounds. Boss and Boss' Husband looked uncomfortable as we lingered past the Buddhas. Their 7-year-old daughter, Jane, tugged on my arm and pulled me along.

"You are a Jesus! You cannot see!" she told me.

James and I said bye to Boss and her family. But we stayed at the festival to watch a rock concert. I could sing along with more than half the songs. The ubiquity of Rock 'n Roll still amazes me: Here we were at a traditional festival, not another foreigner in sight, and the set list included "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "It's so easy to fall in Love," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," and "Light My Fire."

There were also some contemporary numbers, including a Black Eyed Peas song. Nothing pulls at my patriotic heartstrings like a Taiwanese bass player rapping, "Here in the U.S.A. we got the Bloods and the Crips and the KKK."

When the concert ended, a giant bull on a pedestal lit up and started smoking. It's eyes blinked, the pedestal rotated. There were laser lights and blaring Chinese music. I could feel the drums vibrating in my chest.

Chinese New Year is such a bangin' holiday.

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