Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Michael Jackson

You didn't know he was Taiwanese, did you?
During my second trip to the U.S. (I'm from Taiwan), my mom enrolled me in a summer day care program, in hopes that I would learn English.

One day during recess, I was standing next to three classmates.

One asked me, "Michael, what's your last name?" I gave a puzzled look. She asked again, "What's your last name?" Again, I gave that confused look. She said, "You know, Michael . . ." and paused after my first name.

I thought maybe she was asking if I knew any famous people named Michael. So when she gave her last attempt and said, "Michael . . . you know, Michael what?" I blurted out "Jackson." Immediately the three burst out laughing, and I realized that I had said something completely out of context, but I still didn’t know what “last name” meant.

To make matters worse, the same girl later asked the teacher to ask me the same question once we returned to the classroom. Again I said, "Jackson." That's when my teacher politely corrected me and told me, "No it is Tsai, your last name is Tsai." That's how I learned what a last name is.