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Chinese Toilet Paper
by Zach Smith

It was a gamble, brining her home. I was worried my parents might embarrass me somehow. It was a surprise too, I didn’t tell them in the letters I sent home that I had a girlfriend, and with a 3.7 GPA there was no reason for them to question what else I might be doing at college. She was Chinese, and her parents still lived in China, but she had a student visa. I didn’t want her to be alone for Christmas, so I took my chances, and took her home.

Mom’s welcome was warm when she saw me, and then I introduced her to my lover.

“Oh, what a wonderful surprise,” she said.

She asked her a few questions, where she was from, how long we’ve been together, and so on. She had a smile that told me something embarrassing was afoot.

We put our things in my old room, it was slightly cleaner then I had left it. I say slightly, because my parents had moved some of their collectables or junk into it, keeping it almost as messy as I us to do, but they couldn’t blame it on me anymore.

I gave my lover a tour of the house, starting with my room we weaved our way threw room after room while I gave an inaccurate history of the house. She had a good sense of humor, laughing at the progressively more ridiculous stories of each new room. The tour ended at the Christmas tree, my wooden train set ran underneath, a plain white blanket maid a snowy town in miniature beneath. A house, hand stitched out of a potholder, was the centerpiece.

“This is neat,” she said as she reached for the house. “How is it propped up?”

I instantly remembered, under the house was a role of toilet paper in a thin cardboard box, called fortune cookie toilet paper. There was an offensive caricature of a Chinese man on the box, yellow skin, bucked teeth, black pigtails. Each square of the toilet paper had text printed on it, Confucius jokes such as: “Man who stands on toilet is high on pot.” Sometimes equality offensive fortunes or anecdotes, toilet humor, in many layers. My parents got it on a trip to China before I was born. It has always been one of my favorite Christmas decorations, but I would forget about it for the rest of the year.

I tried to stop my lover from unveiling the less then tolerant family heirloom, but I was to late. She held the box, neither of use spoke, she looked amazed.

“I can’t believe you have this,” she said.

“I’m sorry, I tried to stop you but...”

“No, no, my father invented this in the 80’s, he said it was a huge hit with tourists and that’s how he could afford to send me to school in the states, but I never believed him.”

“Get the Hell out of here,” I said.

But she never did. Was it confuses who said that all good relationships have a great meeting story? I don’t know, nor do I know of a meeting story better then this one, and that’s why I married her.