A handwritten sign behind the counter at my local dry-cleaners reads, “Please Waiting Moment.”

Welcome to Hong Kong!

My partner works twelve hour days, so I’m the one who does the grocery shopping, buys the wine, visits the post office, pays the bills, etc. My teaching gig takes me to the edges of Hong Kong, into the furthest reaches of Kowloon, and occasionally, the New Territories. For this reason, as in Tokyo, I’m more accustomed to conversing with the locals than my partner is. And while back in Japan it was me speaking rudimentary Japanese, here in Hong Kong it’s me speaking Chinglish, or Chinese English.

It’s not, “Where is the men’s room?” It’s, “I need use toilet.”

You don’t’ ask, “How much are the cherry tomatoes?” You ask, “How much tomato?”

You don’t say, “I brought my recyclable bag for the groceries.” You say, “I bring bag.”

Using Chinglish cuts down on the hassle, helps alleviate the stress of living on the other side of the world, and makes everyday life run more smoothly. It’s a no-brainer. Unless you’re my partner.

He somehow hasn’t learned that purposely omitting articles and prepositions, and keeping everything in the present tense makes life easier. No matter how many times I give him the look of death or call him a pendejo, he still insists on saying things like, “Excuse me, could you tell me where the bathroom is?”

Or, “We’re all set. Could we just get the check please. Oh, and before that, could I get another glass of the sauvignon blanc?”

I just pretend to find something fascinating outside the window, or on the back of my hand while his eyes plead with me to help him out of some easily avoided mess. The waiter brings him a cabernet sauvignon or the cab driver doesn’t understand his directions and takes us in the opposite direction.

God, you should see my partner try to hail a cab. He lifts up his pansy-ass arm as if he only had partial use of it, his chin down and a vague smile on his face that suggests, “Gosh, I’m so sorry I have to use a cab right now, but would you mind stopping for us?”

He turns to me when most drivers pass him by. Who can blame them? I stick out my arm like Hitler youth, stare the driver in the eye, get in and firmly but politely announce my desired destination. My partner gets in and gives ME the look of death. I just say, “How nice we’ll be in time for brunch.”

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