“Personal” is a relative term

The last week has been hot and super humid, meaning we sweat the second we step outside. The 5 minute walk to school is bad. But your sweat dries whenever you go upstairs in the school where the A.C. works and the classrooms are, so it dries on you repeatedly throughout the day. My forehead broke out a couple days ago.

We were at the after-meeting lunch today, standing around with a crowd from the young people’s group and the adult English class. One girl started a conversation – in front of everybody – with, “Oh where did you get so many pimples?” (pointing to her forehead). I told her (and everyone else) that it’s been hot, blah blah blah, and she kept on about it, asking me for more explanation before ending the conversation with, “Well, then maybe when you come back from Canada you will be handsome again!” (with a warm, sincere, friendly smile). She really didn’t mean anything by it at all.

It was rather funny. It’s not the first time someone has asked us something point-blank that you would never expect to hear in our culture (little kids and funny old people aside). And they do it with totally innocent expressions on their faces. It’s hard not to look surprised at the time; we don’t have as-ready responses to questions we never expect to get, even though we were warned long before stepping foot in Asia.

So here’s your fair warning: in Taiwan, acne, age, weight, body/facial features, income, why you don’t have children, and when you’re going to have children are all fair game for public dinner table conversation.