By John E. Carey
November 15, 2006
Many of you know that my lovely bride is Vietnamese born. As a man in a culturally diverse marriage, I sometimes get to make observations that others may have missed. And I should always preface these stories with this: there is no right or wrong in my views of culture. I don't judge the various food groups, ways of thinking, traditions and etc. I just try to understand.
People are going to call me sexist, demeaning toward woman, racist and all kinds of other things. They don't know me and they are wrong but I do phrase things a little too glibly for some readers some of the time.
My Vietnamese born wife, a proud American citizen, pretty much has these three priorities in life: (1) Work hard, (2) make husband happy, (3) have a happy life. This last one involves helping a lot of people.
But most American guys want to know about Number Two. Lets just say, my lovely bride has boundless energy. And the right priorities.
Of course, if one is lucky in life he matures. I try to always praise and never criticize my bride. If she robbed a liquor store I'd probably say, "Pretty good haul and you got away clean!"
I cannot recall my loving brind ever criticizing me in any way. Helping, yes.
My first wife, who was a, please pardon the expression, "round eye" from Virginia, pretty much had these priorities: (1) Spend my money, (2) take care of stray dogs, and (3) vacuum while I tried to watch football on TV.
I guess it isn't just the man's priorities. The woman's matter a lot too, guys.
I used to tell people at parties that I believed in reincarnation and I was hoping to return in my next life as my first wife's dog: better food, more attention, nicer bed, showered with gifts, and always meeting animals of the other sex!
For many years I was annoyed and/or angry and I wasn't sure why. (I never said I was a SMART story teller, just a story teller!)
One time, with my first wife, I made the bed while she was in the shower. When she got out, dried off and got dressed, she took the bed completely apart (Sheets OFF) and remade it. I should have known right there: you can never make this woman happy. Nothing you do will ever be good enough.
A neighbor one time said to me: "You could buy my wife the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus and she still wouldn't be happy."
With my wife now, she is just pleased that I know where the kitchen is and I can cook a little. She loves it that I can do odd things a lot of Vietnamese guys do not like doing like the laundry, vacuuming, making beds, etc.
My Vietnamese born wife has a few interesting words and idioms that I try not to correct because I do not want to be her English teacher. Instead of saying, "He honked his horn at me," she says, "He horn me."
I always have this mental image of a Rhino charging toward my wife's car.
The Catholic "rosary" prayer beads always comes out "Rosemary" but I don't look for it in the kitchen any more.
My lovely bride also often refers to herself as "John's woman."
I always feel like Fred Flintstone when I hear that. It sounds great.
But not always to other people. One time we were together and we ran into a retired Army General I know. He looked quizzically at her and said, "And what is your relationship?"
She shot back: "I John's woman."
You ever give CPR to a General?
My lovely bride told me when we first met that she was getting at the age where she could no longer produce children.
She said if I wanted children she's find me a nice 20 year old Vietnamese woman to help me out. But I thought I might not really want children anyway and one Vietnamese woman was pretty great and plenty for me!
My loving bride tokld me we could date so long as I went back to church. I went too. Gladly.
My lovely bride doesn't really understand football but she loves it that I get enthusiastic when I see a great play (on Saturdays I watch Notre Dame). She also finds it interesting that on Sundays I do the New York Times crossword puzzle while the Redskins do whatever it is they ar doing this year.
My lovely bride is way smarter than me. I married up.
My lovely bride is a size two. I overheard her telling some other woman one day: "John likes size zero but sets a limit at two."
I never thought about it until just then. I like small, sexy women.
Now I digress. My friend Billy operates a couple of the area's finest dining establishments. One encourages dancers to perform.
Billy's ninety-two year old grandfather was joining me for lunch one day so I asked him: "Grandfather, when does a man stop looking at sexy women?"
He said, "I don't know but it is after ninety-two!"
If you publicly admire the beauty of a lot of American born women you are going to end up with a bruise or a complaint at work.
I think if you work hard and you work hard at making both members in the marriage happy you can have a great life. Which is what I have now, thank God. I think my bride agrees.
If you are not happy (and my famous divorce lawyer friend tells me business is booming) my advice is this: bite the bullet, go through the process (you'll likely lose half of everything), start over and get an Asian woman in your life. Pronto.
You don't have to thank me, even.
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Rapprochement With Vietnam
November 15th, 2006 by johnib
By Honglien Do and John E. Carey
For The Washington Times
November 15, 2006
President Bush is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is an historic trip that recognizes Vietnam's entry into the world economic community of nations.
President Bush is joining China's President Hu Jintao and as many as 21 other heads of state.
Last week Vietnam finally joined the World Trade Organization after many unsuccessful attempts. Vietnam has Asia's second fastest growing economy and WTO entry is anticipated to further spark the economy, the way it did when China entered the WTO in 2001.
But the U.S. Congress rejected legislation to grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to the one-time US enemy partially spoiling the serenity of President Bush's week.
Vietnam's GDP growth rate this year is projected to be 8.2%, the second-fastest in Asia behind China and virtually tied with that of India. The stock market in Ho Chi Minh City is up a whopping 70%.
On July 4 we wrote in these pages about the new hopes for progress, openness and respect for human rights in Vietnam. A new government led by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had just taken power. The new prime minister vowed to continue economic reforms and to tackle the country's pervasive corruption.
Already there have been manifest signs of progress in Vietnam.
For fourteen long months, the communist government of Vietnam held in jail without charges U.S. citizen Mrs. Cuc Foshee and others. They were finally charged on November 2 and went to trial. They were convicted of plotting to use radio systems to encourage the overthrow of the government of Vietnam. They were all sentenced to remain in jail until December.
But thankfully, the government of Vietnam granted Mrs. Foshee and the others clemency and all came home to teary eyed family reunions in the United States on November 13, 2006.
That same day, the United States of America dropped Vietnam from its list of nations that severely violate religious freedom - a decision described by a State Department official as one of its "most significant announcements" of the year.
Religious freedom is on the rise in Vietnam. Last week we met Catholic Bishop Nguyen Van De. He was appointed last month by Pope Benedict XVI. This was the second consecutive major appointment of a Catholic Church official in Vietnam without government review and approval since 1975.
Bishop Ngo Quang Kiet of the archdiocese of Hanoi was also appointed without the interference of the Communist government of Vietnam.
Bishop Nguyen Van De is the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Bui Chu, Nam Dinh, Vietnam (formerly North Vietnam). He is the assistant to Bishop Hoang Van Tiem.
Our Catholic pastor told us that when he was a student, Nguyen Van De had to teach him "under the table." From 1975 until just these last few years, religious education was forbidden in Vietnam.
In Bui Chu 5 years ago there were only 33 priests. Now there are 150. Next year bishop Tiem and De will ordain 65 new priests.
Cardinal Pham Minh Man wrote: "Everywhere the Vietnamese Catholics fill up all the churches, the seminaries and convents are full of vocation to the priesthood and religious life."
Buddhists and others also report more religious tolerance and freedom.
Vietnam's government has shown a true humanitarian side that offers great promise for future improvements.
But there is still trouble in Vietnam and there is no denying that. Our "Bac" or uncle spoke to us about the situation in Vietnam only upon the condition that he remain anonymous. People in Vietnam still fear and distrust their government.
We applaud President Bush on his trip to Vietnam. This is a major moment of healing and rapprochement between the United States and Vietnam.
Honglien Do spent time as a guest of the Communist government of Vietnam in "detention." Mr. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc. and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.