I suck as a made-in-France Chinese wife. I can’t cook Feng’s favourite Northern foods, my in-laws find me disrespectful, I produced a son who speaks Mandarin with a Western accent and I don’t meet Asian beauty standards.
But once a year, I try my best to be an acceptable Chinese wife.
I’ve been carrying firecrackers in my backpack since Buenos Aires. I also provide two accessories—a lighter and a cigarette—and I’m willing to play with fire (literally). That’s a proof of love, right?
Yesterday was Chinese New Year, a holiday best celebrated with extended family in China, or so I’m told. Since we knew we could be anywhere but in China, we planned ahead. Last year, we discovered a shop in Buenos Aires that sells all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers, so during our short stay in Argentina, we bought a couple of boxes. Feng carried one, I took the other one and stored it in my little metal box.
Yes, we’ve been travelling and flying with firecrackers. Makes you reconsider airport security since our bags have never been searched or flagged.
We’re now in Florianópolis, a safe place to play with firecrackers because like Trump wisely noted, it’s “an island surrounded by water.”
We headed out shortly before midnight, looking for a perfect spot.
“How about the park?”
“Is this some kind of Brazilian joke?”
“It’s the ‘Parque da Luz,’ the ‘Light Park,’ but it’s pitch dark!”
“There’s a quiet road over there. Wait. Actually, it’s suspiciously quiet. It is even okay to walk there in the middle of the night?”
I shrugged. “Meh… Floripa is pretty sedate.”
After Rio, any city is.
We found the Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz around the corner.
“Damn! There are people everywhere!”
“Well, it’s a lookout… people hang out there, I guess.”
For a second, I felt kind of guilty. Maybe we should warn the handful of teens that we were about to play with firecrackers. Then I thought of all the times I was stuck in blocos, soaked with beer or woken up by a marching band during Carnival.
We had an excuse, a legit Chinese man who wanted to celebrate his holiday. Fuck it. No warning.
I lit up a cigarette and we both ignored Mark who was about to be disappointed—he thought we had actual fireworks, like he saw on New Year’s Eve.
Feng lit the first one.
Red cardboard exploded.
Then he helped Mark with the second one.
The third one was for me but before I got the chance to set it up, we heard a familiar sound—a siren.
The (innocent) teens bolted out of the lookout. We weren’t so fast and had nowhere to go, so we stayed there and pretended to be a happy family taking pictures of the bridge, like most families do… uh… at midnight, with a five-year-old kid.
“More! Let’s do more firecrackers!”
“Why? Why are you saying ‘shhht’?”
“Because playing with explosive devices is usually frowned upon.”
The police car parked a bit further down the road. We had to find another spot.
Eventually, I lit up the last one in the dark Parque da Luz.
Then we ran back to the hotel.
Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!