Oui, Oui, We’re Going to Paris

23. January 2006 Paris, France 3

Last September, I did something I’ve always wanted to do for my parents: I bought them tickets to France. They’ve never traveled outside of their New York-Philippines route and Paris is one of those places a person has to go to at least once in their lifetime. (Others say that’s Disneyland, but we can have a long discussion about that.) My parents have always wanted to go to Paris but they’re not very adventurous in terms of traveling and spending. My mother just turned 58 and my father is 59 today. I can’t think of a more perfect time to give them, and myself, a treat.

There was an affordable non-stop flight via Air France to Charles de Gaulle, but I couldn’t help but pick the flight with a stop over at Reykjavik. Our layover is only forty-five minutes each way, but for my own selfish reasons, I’m already thinking of how many vacuum-sealed fish I can buy, duty-free, at the Keflavik airport! Crazy, right? But you’d understand if you were also the type who’d spend $74 on cab fare to eat barbeque ribs from the Houston airport.

My father is what Filipinos would call maarte. I can’t think of a better English translation than “coquete.” When I first told my parents about going to Paris, my father did not even bat an eyelash. My mom squealed in delight (like mother, like daughter) but my father just pursed his lips, probably still figuring out where the hell Paris is in relation to Manila.

My father is like your father. He is not mean, but tact has never been his strength (like father, like daughter). From when he refuses to taste anything I cook to saying that he doesn’t really want to see Paris, it doesn’t occur to him that how he reacts or what he says would hurt his daughter’s feelings. My father is of the male species, after all.

So the last few months, he has refused to read any books about France or look at the Paris map I’ve bought to get them oriented. My mom has been reading the guide books I gave her and she’s been checking off tourist spots she wants to see in person. (In the movie Constant Gardener, one of the characters said, Adam was God’s prototype; he got it right with Eve.) But my father has been saying things like I’ll just take the next flight back to New York if I don’t like it. He kept his mouth shut after I suggested that he might want to look at the metro map to get his aSs back to the airport without us.

The other day, my mom told me to be nicer to my dad. That in fact behind closed doors, he has been asking my mom if I am making reservations at some fancy restaurants and if he needs to pack his suit. My mom reminded me that whenever we go anywhere together, even in the city, he’s the first one to pose for a photograph. He’s just being maarte, she said.

So we’re going to Paris and we’re traveling as a family–sans my older brother–for the first time in our lives. I just want my parents to enjoy the trip and know that their daughter is thinking of them.

3 thoughts on “Oui, Oui, We’re Going to Paris”

  • 1
    Bb on January 26, 2006

    Hi ! I think it’s also a question of pride. From an Asian Dad’s point of view, he should be the one taking you and your mom to Paris, not the other way around.

    I’m taking my dad to HK and Shanghai in less than 2 weeks. He’s also being maarte. He says little things about how cold Shanghai is or how there are many pick pockets in HK. Those are not really negative stuff but the way he says it annoys me and makes my blood boil. I’d rather he enjoy and bask in the knowledge that food eats and adventure are close at hand.

    I should know better. This is my 8th Annual Bring My Parents Somewhere Event. Since my mom can’t make it because of work, my dad is doubly irritating. I then realized that my dad was really just afraid. Afraid that he won’t have enough cash because he usually gets it from my mom [hello, where art thou credit cards?], Afraid that he’s spending too much of my money, Afraid of spending money in general … my dad brings kuripot to a whole different level.

    Yesterday, I took my dad to Mesa Grill for lunch. He complained again that I’m spending too much money. Normally, I’d get annoyed and it would dampen the whole experience. But yesterday, I just ignored his complains and engaged him in conversation and asked him to grade Bobby Flay’s cooking like he was on Iron Chef.

    This morning my uncle had breakfast with my dad. My dad started complaining about how bad the food at Mesa Grill was, from an Asian point of view, I figured out that by complaining, he’s bragging without being too mayabang.

    Now, I’m happy, my $s didn’t go to waste.

  • 2
    vanessa on January 26, 2006

    ha, my grandfather is like that. He is from Ecuador and has not drive to visit other countries unlike my adventurous grandmother. He will boast, brag and talk endlessly about it and if someone brings up positive talk about another country, he’ll say, well, that’s very nice but that person has never visited Ecuador, now THAT’s a country, in Ecuador. . .

    crazy patriot talk i say.

  • 3
    cia on January 26, 2006

    You know, I’ve never thought about the pride thing. Maybe you’re right. But since he’s never going to change, I think it is my duty to just entertain his quips but not pay so much attention to them. I will just ruin my own experience if I let him hurt my feelings.

    By the way, he also would say “Meron nyan sa Ilokos!” to everything and that’s why I still love my dad.

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