This year, I'm throwing an open house / house warming during Chinese New Year, sort of trying to save $$$ by killing two birds with one stone. So, for once, I get to be the busy bee running around the house getting everything in place so that my family and friends will be properly served.
Usually, I'm busy at the buffet spread and avoiding relatives trying to ask me silly, annoying questions. You know like "When you getting married", "How much you earn now?", "Why you still no girlfriend one?" .. you get the drift.
That's a sure-fire way of depleting your CNY angpow income, but there's something money can't buy.
I gotta admit that the one time I went to an open house (really, more like an open Dewan Masyarakat) hosted by some political party, I was shocked to see all the pushing, shoving and jostling. It really was a little like one of those Arsenal - Man U matches. Only thing missing was a referee giving out red cards. To top it, there are drunks, relatives and all those boring folks hoping to make friends with you ... and politicians pretending to be friendly with you, and understanding your grievances.
Therefore, I think I need to prep my guests and also the rest of the folks about the do's and don'ts of attending the CNY Open House ...
When attending CNY Open House, please do:
- Dress appropriately. Wear loose fitting, breathable clothes with good sweat absorbing quality so that the amazing sweat you work up pushing, shoving and jostling won't drip all over the food. However, if you (a) have a great body (b) look really good and (c) are female, the opposite holds true. Wear something tight. Something with less cloth. Imagine there's a shortage of clothing material in the world, and you can save the situation by wearing less. You'll be amazed how the jostle ahead of you give way. You'll feel like Moses parting the Red Sea. Yes, (a) and (b) and (c), NOT (a) or (b) or (c). Must meet all qualifications, otherwise mass vomiting might happen.
- Bring your own utensils. Why waste time looking for fork and spoon? Your competition might hide it from you to gain an unfair advantage. And do you really think all those flimsy plastic fork will really be able to cucuk that friend chicken? Bring your own fork and spoon - better still if you bring your own plate. Make that a big plate, the biggest plate you can find from home. Yes, even that Ming dynasty plate your grandpa handed down to you also can, but only if it's big enough to fit all the food you need in 1 go. That way, you don't have to worry if they tell you you can only take 1 plate.
- Respect others. Be courteous. Look, it's only an open house. No need to be mean. Before you stick a fork into that asshole's butt in front of you who has been hogging the line, the least you can do is to ask him/her politely ... "Excuse me, can I stab your ass with my fork? I can't stand you hogging the food". Do the same just before you decide to 'spill' orange squash, 'accidentally' drop some curry gravy, or 'bumping' into the bastard who took all the chili crab. It's an Eastern value thing ... we shouldn't forget that just because we're all locked in intense competition for food. Hey, and be sincere. Smile.
- Bring the family. If you have young children, introduce them early on to the spectacle of CNY open houses. It's a tradition worth keeping, and it's a way to expose them to the multicultural society we live in. And it's also a fun family outing - you spend quality time with the kids. But just who am I kidding? You bring your children and the elderly so that you have the moral high ground. "Yes, I know I took 15 plates of friend chicken, 22 plates of butter prawn and 11 bottles of Coke, but look, I have brought all my 42 family members here ... ". Even Scrooge McDuck can't argue with that.
- Take only what you can eat. You really shouldn't take what you can't finish. It's a waste of good food. The rule of thumb here is to take enough food for yourself for 3 days only. Make sure that calculation is based on 3 meals a day only. Supper doesn't count. I mean CNY is the time of the year when practically all restaurants are closed, and the ones that are open wants you to deposit RM5,000 before they even let you in, so you're just doing the right thing by only taking 3 days worth of food. Weight concious friends might want to ensure they only take 2,000 calories per day.
- Thank the hosts before you leave. You've plundered their food. You've messed up their furniture. You've even spilled F&N Orange on their six thousand ringgit Persian carpet. And they haven't killed you yet, in fact, they're smiling and thanking you at the gates for coming. That's Malaysian hospitality at work - they really want to kill you, but they're being nice hosts. So, please be a nice guest too. Bringing some door gifts - they don't have to be expensive - such as kuaci, Ngan Yin peanuts, some mandarin oranges and pringles will go a long way to redress the damage you've wrecked. What could be more soothing to your hosts that having enough mandarin oranges to last till next June? Or enough peanuts to coax pimples to form in places your hosts didn't realise pimples could grow out of? Or enough Cadbury chocolate to give the whole family diabetes?
- Go around asking for ang pow. You're unmarried. You're poor. You look forward to CNY for some extra funding so that your Honda City VTEC won't be repossessed by the bank. The circumstances might make you wanna just go forth to every person you know (and don't know) and go *cough*cough* .. "I'm still single" ... WRONG MOVE buddy. Now you've opened up Pandora's box. For around RM2 - RM5 (typical angpow income), you'll have to divulge information about your marital status, the reason why you've not been getting any action, your lousy, low-paying job and your plans to get yourself hitched. That's if you're lucky. Unlucky ones have been known to have to endure talks about their over achieving cousin Paul, high flying niece Jessica, tips from 60 years olds on how to get the perfect partner and even introductions to their lovely, pimply daughter, Jane. Worst still, Uncle Howard might be gay ...
- Brag about the good life you have. Buddy, CNY is a time for tall tales. If you think your job is great, shut up. Even when it's true that your life is great, and you're earning RM 200k annually. Else, every uncle and aunty in sight will give you a 15 minute talk about their own little Ella and Eddy's high flying ways. This even when Ella is still flipping Big Mac patties while looking for job 29 months after graduation and Eddy is selling coloring books at a traveling book fair. Everyone is really waiting for a chance to tell their bullshit stories ... so don't be the instigator. For the love of life, just eat, drink and be merry. Don't give those old folks a chance to spin their tales.
- Go for 6th round. Despite your hosts' gentle persuasions, it's NOT ok to go for 6th round. Not even if you're still hungry. Not even if you're feeling like having another one of those fish fillets. No. The other guests will all cast dirty, mean looks at you. The guys feel like scratching your car, the girls no longer find you cute, their parents will start to gossip about your 800 bucks salary once you go for your 6th round. If you really followed my advice earlier to bring your own plate, you could have taken enough in 1 go. Going for 6th round also violates the earlier advise to only take what you can eat.
- Eat too much peanut. The peanut is the normal snack at CNY open houses. It's relatively light, and it's a good companion when having a conversation with drones/bores/uncle Jim. However, the peanuts have gas-giving properties often overlooked by the general public. This is really one reason why evil open house hosts like me have their open house early, while the peanuts are still being digested in your body. The gases would take time to form. Now, we all know it's impossible to skip the peanuts, so please check with your hosts if its ok to fart, when the inevitable happens. Refer to CNY open houses do's (Respect Others. Be Courteous). Kuaci is an acceptable substitute.
- Getting drunk. At around 5% alcohol, you probably don't realise how quickly you can get intoxicated drinking beer. Watch your portions and don't take more than you can handle. When you start to vomit, that's a sign you've had enough. If you are not sure about your drink-ability, then avoid beer altogether. Vodka will be a more reliable way of getting drunk. And I heard there are no hangovers when you get drunk on vodka. Now you really don't wanna get drunk at an open house because you really don't know what you might do once you cross the line. Mild problems arise when you start cussing, wondering aloud what cousin Mary is wearing under that tank top and throwing out. Bigger problems will occur when you actually respond truthfully to questions about your sex life, where you've hidden your college report card, and what you really want to do with uncle Howard.