…because not all of us have our Peking ducks in a row

Lies My Superstitious Chinese Mother Told Me & the Longevity Panty

I’m the first-born byproduct of old-world Chinese parents.  My Father is nearly twice my age and my Mother is  irrational, but has very nice skin.

My Mother, like many Chinese women her generation, fears death the way that some people would fear stepping into a pile of dog shit while frantically running after their rabid, alpha dog in a dog park.  To my Mother, death, like dog shit in a dog park, is everywhere.

From the ages of zero to pre-teens, I was always overdressed, overfed, overnagged and overwhelmed by my Mother’s fear of death.  Chinese people see a fat kid as a sign of health, so my Mother fashioned me after a 20-lb sack of Jasmine rice.

I'm the sack of rice my Dad is carrying.

Not fully satisfied in dramatically increasing my risk for heart disease and diabetes, my Mother also dressed me in as many layers of clothes a human child could possibly wear without dying from a heat stroke.

I was smiling, because of the delirium that sets in at such high temperatures.

Many parents also feed little white lies to their children to keep them in line.  For example, Johnny might be told that, if he didn’t eat his beans or behave at the dinner table, the Cops would come to get him.

But my Mother’s lies were much more evolved and somehow tied into traditional Chinese beliefs and superstitions.  Lies, such as:

Don’t ingest your ear wax, or else you’ll go mute.

Like the ringing in my ears that comes from having dug at them once too often for ear wax, this bizarre lie resonates with me the most and is one which I’ll take with me to my grave, or till I die – whichever comes first.

For the first 5-6 years of my life, I didn’t even know or care what ear wax was.  When I did figure it out, my classmates had already graduated onto picking their noses.   Who’d think to pick at their ears and eat whatever they’d scrounge up there?  Seriously, the ears are probably the most-ignored part of my head.  The nose was much more easily accessible and provided many more hours of amusement more frequently than both ears and eyes combined.  And ear wax wasn’t nearly as disgusting as snot.  I was shunned by my first-grade community for even suggesting such a thing.

Always wear brand new red undergarments for the Chinese New Year and throughout the year: it will bring you good luck.

My underwear drawer contains a lot of red underwear, which my Mother has mailed me throughout the years.  But like any thrifty Chinese person, I just can’t bring myself to throw out things I’ve never worn before.  And, I’m too mortified to donate the red underwear to the Goodwill.

My Mother contends that, wearing red underwear will not only bring me good luck during the Chinese New Year , but will also help me attract decent, eligible men – men who have a fetish for women in baggy granny panties emblazoned with provocative Chinese words, such as, wealth, luck, prosperity, longevity.

Translation = Wealth

In the Winter of ’97 I had a date and had completely run out of clean underwear, except for my red Chinese New Year granny panties, which I’d never worn before.

Like Goldilocks at the three bears’ house trying out the porridge, I first tried on the red underwear that said Luck, but that underwear was too small and meant for a 12-year old boy with no hips.   So, I tried on the red Wealth panty, which bunched up at the crotch and made me feel like I had a wedgie and a penis at the same time.  From the back, I looked like I was wearing a big red diaper.

Finally, I grabbed the red Longevity panty, which fit just right and acted almost like a girdle, as it went all the way up, past my belly button, held me in tightly, and was made out of some unknown, scrunchy material that smelled like gasoline.  But I was running late, and didn’t have time to think about all that.

When I walked to my car, I noticed this slight rustling, crinkly sound, which was kind of coming from “down there”.  Then I got in the car, put on my seat belt, checked the mirrors, put the key in the ignition, and there was no doubt that the sounds were coming from my red Longevity panty.

As luck would have it – and I didn’t have Luck that night, since that underwear didn’t fit me – I was wearing a daring, short miniskirt with knee-high boots without any tights, so there were no barriers to any noises coming from my crotchal region.

Longevity panty truly lived up to its name, as my date was as excruciating as it was long.

Imagine going out to a quiet, romantic wine bar with the guy of your dreams – intelligent, respectful, humorous, attractive, gainfully employed – only to be sitting in your chair afraid to move and cross-legged the entire night, looking like you had to pee – while your date asks you,

Susan…did you hear something?  What’s that weird noise?  Wait…wait… there it is again!  Is there…is there something wrong with your chair?  Do you want to get up and switch chairs?

It would be far too easy to blame the immense failure of that date (and my entire dating life) on that fateful pair of red Chinese Longevity panties. But I’ve now come to the conclusion that the Chinese superstitions and lies my Mother fattened me up on and clothed me with simply don’t apply to me.

Or maybe in some sick, twisted way they do – maybe Longevity is a curse that refers to the length of time I’ve been unable to find normal, dateable men.  Maybe I’ll find a way to use the Luck panty (like, as a handkerchief?) and let you all know how that goes.

(Editor’s Note: The upcoming Chinese New Year is January 23, 2012.  I will be featuring the underwear that my Mother sends me on a future blog).

Related Posts: More a Tweet Than a Post: Happy Chinese New Year!

39 comments on “Lies My Superstitious Chinese Mother Told Me & the Longevity Panty

  1. herschelian
    December 26, 2013

    Hi – firstly, thank you for following/liking my blog.
    Now on to my main point: speaking as a mother (non-Chinese) I think you are being very unfair/unkind to your mom about how she fed/clothed you. She was DOING HER BEST…..I know you were being ironic and humourous to make a point, but as a fellow mom of her/my vintage I feel a touch hurt. We mothers are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. And what’s wrong with red underwear anyway?


    • lostnchina
      December 29, 2013

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment! I suppose red underwear is OK if it doesn’t have paper cut out Chinese words affixed to the front or is about two sizes too small. As you are in China, I’d encourage you to visit a local store around Chinese New Year and you’ll see what I mean.

      And I’m sure you’re a perfect mother to your children. In my mother’s case, I’m sure it’s more of the “damned if you do” category, as I’ve not yet seen her “damned if I don’t”. Have a wonderful holiday!


  2. The Sicilian Housewife
    November 6, 2013

    Ha haaa! This had me in stitches!!!
    Did you know Italians also wear red pants for good luck at New Year? They are much sexier than the ones you describe, downright pornographic some of them, but my husband did once have some that smelled very odd and made his backside look like a massive tomato. Could they have been made in China, I am now wondering???


    • lostnchina
      November 6, 2013

      It’s so interesting how many traditions we have in common. Do the Italians have writing on their underwear? At least, something like, “Don’t mess with the tomato”.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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  10. sil86as2
    July 27, 2012

    Great post. In our house the old adage that you should always have on a clean pair of underpants (undies for short) in case you were hit by a bus and had to go to hospital is something I remember well. Presumably that was for the benefit of whoever saw my undies in hospital so I would not be ashamed of their condition later. I think if I was hit by a bus the last thing I would care about is whether my undies were clean or not or even if I was wearing any! Staying in one piece and alive would be my main priority. Still it has always remained at the back of my mind strangely.


  11. Young Naija Woman
    July 25, 2012

    This was really really funny. Was trying to stifle my laugh as other half is sleeping. I love the way you write and yes, we do call them Knickers in the UK. Pants is slightly not cool over here.


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  21. twentysomethingwaitress
    January 4, 2012

    Hahaha longevity panty! Oh man this one cracked me up, thank you.


    • lostnchina
      January 4, 2012

      Thanks. Thought you might enjoy that after your own large parachute panty fiasco at X’mas.


  22. john t
    January 3, 2012

    Hi Susan, I stumbled upon this site and love your blog. My mom gave me enough superstitious lies to haunt me for the rest of my life. I must finish a bowl of rice or my supposedly future wife will have holes in her face for every rice left in the bowl. The underwear thing is hilarious cuz i can relate to it. Not red tho that would be ghastly. I would although have to wear all red pjs every year until my 16th birthday when I figured I my relatives weren’t laughing with me but laughing at me and my red teddy bear logo pjs!


    • lostnchina
      January 3, 2012

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I’d totally forgotten about the rice and the holes in the face. In my case, the holes would have been on MY face. It’s wonderful how us westernized Chinese can look back and laugh at our superstition-induced dysfunction. Hope you have a (relatively) neurotic-free Chinese NY!


    • Ian
      February 12, 2015

      I can confirm the above to not be true. I was told the same thing, but funny thing is, not every boy who plays with toy cars grows up to be straight XD


  23. jakesprinter
    December 31, 2011

    Great Article my friend Happy New year to you 🙂


    • lostnchina
      December 31, 2011

      Thanks, Jake, for stopping by. A very Happy New Year to you and your family, too!


  24. Kitchen Slattern
    December 31, 2011

    Are you sure those weren’t the special new year Chastity panties? I think your mother had an inkling of what you’d be getting up to and figured a little chafing might slow you down. This post is the funniest thing I’ve read in a very long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lostnchina
      December 31, 2011

      Thank you for your compliment and for adding me to your blogroll. I truly appreciate that.

      You know, I never thought that my Mother had an ulterior motive regarding the panties, but you may be absolutely right.

      BTW, I notice you’re a Red Sox fan in the land of NY…I’d recommend you “Why I’m Still Sarcastically Single Part One: Steak”, because I do mention Red Sox vs. NY Yankees, but the punchline doesn’t come at the end. I usually don’t self-promote like this, but as a Red Sox fan, I think you might find it *applicable*?


  25. Sue Fenton
    December 31, 2011

    I love the idea of a blog all about panties, complete with pictures. Great fun. It got me to thinking about my own panties. One pair of what I call “party pants”*, which I love – black, sheer, comfy, nice fabric, attractive. And 42 pairs of ill-fitting, unappealing pants, whose edges give me Visible Panty Line. Everytime I go somewhere nice for the evening I aim straight for the party pants, only to find they are in the wash. Why don’t I just chuck out the 42 pairs and buy some more party pants? Because I hate waste and don’t want to add to landfill, realise the charity shops won’t want them and can’t think what else to use them for – there are only so many window polishers you can use. I need useful ideas for what to do with redundant pants – then I can go and buy some more party pants with a clear conscience.

    * Just for clarity, I’m in the UK and we say “pants” to mean ladies’ intimate nether garments, as opposed to trousers. “Panties” has a slightly different connotation, suggesting sexy, skimpy, purchased from that shop with the scantily clad mannequin in the window and the sign saying “No under 18s”. Not suitable for us repressed British, or at least this repressed Britisher.

    Thanks for visiting my blog by the way, always nice to get a new visitor!


    • lostnchina
      December 31, 2011

      HI Sue,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, us women can all empathize with each other over pants/panties/ underwear. Although I have to admit, the ugliest pants/panties, are the ones which are usually the most comfortable (the Chinese granny ones aside).

      Do the Brits use the term “knickers” – or did this exist during the days of Charles Dickens?


      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2011

        Yes, we still use “knickers” – fairly interchangeable with “pants”, I’d say. Knickers is possibly a more polite term while pants is ever so slightly coarse and juvenile. One would tidy up one’s knicker drawer. Of course, there are probably regional variations – would be interested to see if any other Brits agree with me!


        • Sue Fenton
          December 31, 2011

          I came up as “anonymous” then as I hadn’t logged in, but it was me!


          • lostnchina
            January 1, 2012

            Thanks for explaining this, Sue. I would wonder which Anonymous wrote to me about knickers.

            Not sure if there are that many Brits following my blog. I will have to consult with the old “Monty Python” and “Benny Hill” reruns we Canadians were subjected to on TV…and you know how those shows are fine examples of proper British decorum regarding knickers!


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This entry was posted on December 31, 2011 by in China, Humor and tagged , , , , .
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