“There’s an ancient fable about a vendor selling spears and shields by the road. A bunch of spears are displayed tidily on his left with a sign that says,’the world’s best spears that can puncture any shield.’ On his right, there is a pile of shield on which there is a sign that says, ‘the world’s best shields that can block any spear.’ A passerby stops and asks him, ‘what if I use your spear on your shield? What will happen?'”
Sam recites this story and then stares at his mom Pammy gleefully. Sam has grown and now at the age of 14, he’s even taller than his father, but he’s still an impetuous boy sometimes.
“What’s you point? There’s a contradiction I am not aware of in my life? I can’t believe I got that book of Asian stories for you. Now I wish you stop reading it.” Pammy says, finishing her breakfast.
“You said Asian American boys need some ancient Asian wisdom to build up self esteem. Now I am building up…” Sam says.
“Yes, you are improving your self esteem, while my self esteem is plummeting as you constantly use those outdated stories to mock me. So what is it this time? Am I the vendor who’s selling something contradictory without knowing it?”
Sam puts his hand on his neck. Pammy does it too and her hand touches her necklace.
“The necklace? What about it? It’s an heirloom from your grandmother. I have it since I was a little girl. It has brought me good luck.” Pammy says.
“It’s a little whitish jade of Bodhisattva with two lotus decorations. You know. You shouldn’t wear this today.” Sam says.
“Why not?” Pammy asks.
“Because you are going to the Rutgers Community Church to pray and sing Christian songs.” Sam says.
“Well, so today I am going to be blessed by a Buddhist god and a Christian god at the same time.” Pammy says.
“It doesn’t work that way, Mom.” Sam says.
“I can’t believe you say that. I can’t part with my jade Bodhisattva, which has brought me luck all my life. Also I have to go to church today to meet people–if one wants to socialize, gossip, find potential job information, meet potential clients… you know I just got this real estate job. It’s not just for practical reasons. I love God, and he works very hard to bring good luck to people in America. As immigrants, we need all the help we can get.”
“I’m afraid your argument doesn’t address the essence of the problem and I can’t give you any point on that.” Sam just got in his school’s debate club and now he says this as if he’s a ruthless debate judge.
“Pan, can you come here?” Pammy shouts towards the bedroom where her husband Pan is still sleeping. On Sundays, he usually gets up very late. “Your son needs you.”
Pan is awake, but whenever Pammy says “your son”, it means Sam is doing something annoying to her. Whenever she says “my son”, it means Sam has done something wonderful. Pan knows he’s called upon to resolve some unsolvable issues. So he lies there and pretends he’s still asleep.