Debuting this week is a new television series called "American Horror Story." The premise is simple: family moves into haunted mansion. The family is your typically cast prime time show, all white. If Asians had been cast, it would be a completely different show altogether.
The Chinese, including me, are a superstitious bunch. We don't like living near cementeries (my family bucked the trend by buying a house across the street from one, the deal trumped the low possibility of Zombies), we don't like washing our hair on Chinese New Year's day, that would wash out all the Good Luck from the previous year. But we do a thorough cleaning of the house right before, to clean out the bad. And, of course, our most famous one, the dislike of the number four. Four in Chinese is a synonym for "Death," so houses in heavily populated areas with Asians, don't have house numbers with "four." Ask any realtor and they will cringe at taking on a house with that number. Whereas the number eight is synonymous with "luck," next time you are in Monterey Park or Alhambra, count the license plates that has the vanity plate with the number eight.
How Much is that Ghost in the Window?
Back to why there would never be a "Chinese Horror Story." First, we love real estate deals, but the first hint that we have to renovate creaky oddly oozing walls or do an exorcism out of our own pockets is a big "No, thank you." The thought of having ghostly non-paying tenants grates against our Chinese sensibilities; if it doesn't work out to our advantage of an excel sheet, we don't do it. That #2 lunch combo you are tucking into was worked out to the last penny, there is no extra padding to that egg roll; unless you want an extra one for another 99¢, and we will throw in the sweet and sour sauce.
Time is Money, Especially When It's Eternity
There wouldn't be a Chinese Horror Story, not because of the ghosts poking us in the night, but because we just haven't figured out how to put them to work.
Image: Ophelia Chong / What He Lost
Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog
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