Saturday, April 26, 2008

No Smoking On my Turf

What a coincidence that Yi wrote about standing up for herself, because her Ma just did last Thursday night.

Hub had his usual bunch of schoolmates (usually 2 to 3 of them) over for their once-a-month or so wine-and-chat session. I don't usually join them because I think they prefer to b.s. on their stories, you know, boys' talk. But C brought his wife, and Lily was here too, and so I joined them, all 6 of us. And I thoroughly enjoyed myself listening to them talk about what mischiefs and misfortune they endured thus far. Then an hour later, a surprise: one of their MIA classmate joined us. I absolutely have nothing against this guy, and in fact, I told Hub years ago that I admire MIA's guts in sticking out like a sore thumb if he had a differing opinion.

MIA sat next to me and asked me for an ashtray. I think my excuse about what I did next is the standard excuse Malaysians use when they fall for a con job: I was hypnotised. I hypnotically gave him the can that had held the camembert. Now, those who know me will know that I practise zero tolerance when it comes to cigarette smoke. I move away if the people at the next table in a restaurant light up, I loudly complain (and dramatically choke) if there are no tables to move to, and I would rather not eat in a restaurant where smoking is allowed. When Hub and I first met, he was an occasional smoker and I told him to quit cold or I'm scooting off. He quit.

Anyway, MIA was puffing harder than Puffing Billy but nobody dared to tell him to stop. At one point, C and his wife and I started complaining among us about how we hate cigarette smoke (I want to commend them on broaching the issue openly, and in a way supporting me). The others heard but they ignored us (sort of like covering up for embarassing MIA), and they continued with their super important discussion on whether beef taste best with red wine in between bites or chewed with the meat. MIA, who had earlier talked about how people should be sensitive to different cultures and beliefs, had the cheek to join our conversation by asking if we knew that it is now against the law in Australia to smoke even in open places.(It didn't occur to me until 30 minutes later how ironic that was, given the predicament I was in.) By MIA's 6th cigarette, C hinted a headache, his wife's eyes and my eyes were red from the smoke and the wine, and I was wondering what the ### I was doing, inhaling second-hand smoke. By his 10th, I told him to stop. He shrugged and walked to the edge of my patio and lighted up again. Then within 1 minute, he was back into the amusing and disgusting conversation about how well the China Chinese can spit (L gave a story of how he saw not one, but two guys spit, not downward but horizontally into the side opening of a bin. He said those were powerful spits, and someone said "Must've flown like a sword" and that sent us all howling. Then they went on about how the Chinese love to jump queues. Poor Lily).

Okay, to cut my story short, it was a really enjoyable evening, everybody left at 1:30 am and Hub and I spent the next 15 minutes arguing about whether, under those circumstances, it was proper or not to tell a guest off. My point was that Hub should've joined me in stopping his friend from smoking in our house, and would he stop MIA from smoking next time he's here? I was totally upset that he did not speak up, knowing my adversion to smoke. To me, why should I save a guest's face if he blatantly disregards my rules in my house, even if it is in an open area? What is this about face if the other person does not respect your feelings? Lily, who was staying over, summarized it this way: Hub is a peace-loving person who knows his friend's character and doesn't want to embarass him whereas I am out-spoken and assertive like a westerner. What the? It sounded like he's the good guy again. (Truth though was, when Hub went upstairs, Lily said, pumping a fisted arm into the air triumphantly, "I want to speak up like you!") I want my husband to stand up for me, and he could've done it nicely without being rude to MIA. What is so difficult or wrong about that? How many of you read Bo Yang's The Ugly Chinaman? Lily tells me that it is a Chinese thing to not embarass a person in front of others, for the sake of not causing strife and so people prefer not to speak up. Tell me what you would have done.

p.s. And if MIA should be reading this, I want to state that I am not against him, but against what he did. There's a difference and it is reflected in the fact that I would welcome him with open arms if he just doesn't light up in my house. Period.

8 comments:

bryan said...

Well, MIA is probably some sort of 'hero' figure among your hub's friends. You know how we always admire outspoken people who are not afraid to speak their mind, and so their status and stature increase as a result making it hard to 'tell them off'. And of course like you mentioned, it's a Chinese thing.

Luckily due to my mixed parentage I haven't been brought up very Chinese and have no qualms about telling people off, especially about smoking. Smoking is a pox on the people. There was his Isaac Asimov book set in the near future that labeled it as 'The Great Plague of the 21st Century'. I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

=sorry out of the topic=

Hi terri..
sorry i only realize ur announcement today, despite reading ur blog everyday..

I double checked the link, and its the correct website/URL.. try pasting them on the URL and enter.. and see whether it come out..

Thanks for ur sincerity in helping me.. here's my link again..

http://annegelynne.servqual-satisfaction.sgizmo.com

If yahoo or Google search says the site may not exist.. try clicking it anyway.. it will come out..

THANKS again!

~Angeline

team bsg said...

we believe you will need great tact to handle this kind of sensitive situation. In most cases the smoker will not mind since he is in another territory but he musn't be made to lose face
in front of people. Caution is advised in all debates on personal rights/liberties/habits etc since the slightest misunderstanding will trigger a most unecessary breakup of a relationship . We still believe slence is golden ( most times )
laksa coming up !

Shan said...

I'm a smoker and cigarette smoke irritates me as well. I don't smoke in my place unless I have guests over. And then it usually takes 2 to 3 days for the smell to go away.

It is important to respect other people's right to breathe. If I smoke in public places I usually look around to see if it's affecting anyone, especially if there are kids around. And I almost always tell friends to let me know if the smoke is bothering them.

I guess I'd like to think I'm a considerate smoker? Is there such a term? :)

Precious Pea said...

Your hubby was in a tough situation, either way would offend MIA or you...so i guess it would be easier to 'offend' you than his buddy.

But am surprised how come MIA be so rude? I mean, doesn't he get the hint? Or he just doesn't care? Perhaps next time you should move the wine chatting session to indoor, that would probably discourage him to puff.

Moodie Foodie said...

terri, this MIA guy obviously hasn't given u face when u (the host) have politely asked him to stop - so u shouldn't give him the same respect (of face) either. i mean, we live in a very different society to the (somewhat) repressed chinese so i don't see why a man who drinks wine over conversations of fine food would be offended when being politely told off. but then again, he might be too cocky for his own good to realise what he's doing. either way, i personally would've spoken up regardless of anyone else's objections. they may take me lightly because i am a female, but with the support of others (ur friend C & his wife), there is a strong alliance to back u up. otherwise, u could stop offering MIA any more wine, take the bottle, glasses and move u & ur suffering friends away from him (maybe onto another area of your house). Ur husband may not join u (as most men don't want to alienate their 'buddy'), but at least the msg was clear that MIA's actions were not welcome.

terri: i found out my sister, laura knows ur daughter. apparently they play football/futsal together? =]

NEE said...

I hate smokers. No matter how considerate they can be. somemore your fren was not even considerate. I dont understand what is that is so attractive about cigarettes that ppl just cant give up. If greg smokes i would have dump him right then and there.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

bryan: u r a gem of a man. Isaac Asimov? I must get a hold of tt book. i'm not sure if smoking is the great plague of this century but the way the light up in China, n u know the Chinese r the last to bother about the environment, it could well be true.

angeline: ok, i'll try again when i have more time bc someone told me it's a real long survey.

team bsg: hello n welcome. is this a boys' for boys' statemnt? do u really mean it tt if someone comes to ur hse n ur wife can't stand the smoke u'll not say anything? i hope my hub is not reading this!

shan: u def r a considerate smoker, n i respect tt!all smokers shd be like u.

preciousp: exactly. i thought how come he can be rude n i can't. moving indoors is a good idea. i will consider tt, or put him in a bubble tent.

moodie: yes, ur advice is like preciousp's: if u can't beat them, leave them. see, i told u. the kevin bacon factor works everywhere.

nee: hehe, u sound as anti-smkoing as me. hi-5!

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