Foist

is a word that I cannot handle. No matter how many times I’ve encountered it and looked it up, I have to look it up again for the next encounter. Same for words like flout, flounder, flaunt. F for failure to remember. I don’t know about native speakers, but for non-native speakers like me such an inadequacy is negligible, compared with other annoying language incapacity I’ve discovered and felt powerless to deal with. I can always attribute my memory lapse to the fact that my mind is not wired for alphabets. Genetically I am a tonal language live machine even if scientists haven’t found the tonal genes, or probably will never find.

Then I watched an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and all those cool things Leon teaches Larry. By the way, I think Leon should open a language school for immigrants since he can make the language alive and kicking, unlike those English language courses I took in school for which vocabulary memorization and grammar rules strangled the last bit of spirit out of English. Leon tells Larry that he’s been foisted with a secretary that everybody wants to unload onto somebody else. Bingo! I suddenly learned the word foist without really learning it and memorized it without beating my brain with a mental stick.

And “foist” is the most suitable word to describe the central character Sterling Lung in “The Barbarians Are Coming”. His relationship with Bliss is practically foisted on him by Bliss’ one-sided enthusiasm, sort of like the motherly love. Bliss is pregnant with his child. Even this unborn child seems to be foisted on him. Then he cooks for a beautiful Xena like woman and the next thing he knows, she’s drunk and tries to foist herself on him. His parents try to foist all kinds of things on him–the idea of going to medical school which he rebels against, their contempt for his culinary aspiration etc. They even arrange to get a picture bride–I think the barbarian in the title actually refers to her but I can be wrong–from Hong Kong for him, forcing him to ditch other women and to marry this barbarian. This last piece of foisting is the most egregious of all.

I am still at the 4th chapter of the book and I don’t know if more foisting is going to happen. It seems that cooking is the only thing nobody foists on him and everything else in life is imposed and unwelcome.

He writes so well and it almost pains me to talk about the prevailing foisting in his book. Fortunately he passed away two years ago and would not get hurt by whatever I say about his book. Only 63 years old. Too young to die for a modern man.

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