I have a calendar from the local Vietnamese supermarket hanging in my office that’s color coded to indicate the lucky and unlucky days of the week — green is bad, purple is good, and I’m not certain what the blue means and for some reason have never asked. Each day is also labeled with a different sign from the Chinese zodiac and on to the top of every page next to the name of the month is a note scribbled in my mother’s distinctive scribbly handwriting that says, “No haircut on Wednesday.”
She’s been creating these calendars for me, herself and my dad year using Chinese astrological books and calendars my aunt ships her from Bangkok after every Lunar New Year. While I suspect that her thoughts that getting a haircut on Wednesday will bring bad luck stem from an old Thai superstition, the Chinese zodiac and this calendar have been the structure for everything in my mother’s life — and most recently, mine.
I was born in 1987, the year of the fire rabbit, associating me with personality traits that many read on placemats in Asian restaurants: playful, aggressive but approachable, warm hearted, likeable. But according to my Mama, the date and time of my birth as well as the specific day of the week ultimately predict my destiny and actions. I will gain gradual success but will have to work hard (harder than my brother, born a coveted fire dragon). I will have a long life without many hardships. I should never make decisions or get my haircut on Friday, the day of my birth, which clashes with my astrological sign.
She wants my fiancé, Gavin, and I to get married on November 18, 2018, a day that’s supposedly auspicious for both of us. Outings and appointments are only planned on good-luck months, days and times, which naturally makes scheduling extremely complicated. For example, my luckiest times are between 7am and 11am and 5pm to 9pm, and I’m advised to only make decisions on the right days at the right times. Straying from advised times can bring dire consequences.
Sometimes on a “bad day,” as my mama calls them, she’ll call me and tell me to drive more carefully or encourage me to stay home. Or if I tell her Gavin and I have had an argument, she’ll tell me in a matter-of-fact manner that it is a bad day and I should have checked the calendar before picking a fight.
The Lucky Goat
My fiancé and I met while we were both working at Old Chicago in Boulder, Colorado, more than 10 years ago. He is 20 years older than me and was a manager at the restaurant at the time while I was a server. I never thought my parents would approve of our relationship, but tomy surprise, my Mama adores Gavin. She always mentions how she loves that he takes care of me, but I know her approval stems solely from one fact: Gavin was born in 1967 — the Year of the Goat — a sign that is lauded to be compatible with rabbits.
My Mama’s dream is to take Gavin to Thailand to show off his goatness to my aunties. The thought gives him understandably intense anxiety, but he’s a good sport. He was open to her selection of our wedding date and doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that she wants us to have a baby next year since 2019 is the Year of the Pig, a lucky sign for both of us. He just laughs when she criticizes his wardrobe, which is dominated by the color grey — which claims is unlucky for him — but he’ll gladly wear the clothing she buys for him in the colors of her choice without protest.
Sometimes I wonder if Gavin and I do get along so well because of our compatible Chinese astrological signs. Would he still be so incredibly supportive of me if I were a dragon or a horse? Is the lunar calendar the reason he is so accepting of my family and agreeable to my mother’s demands? Would my Mama treat another 50-plus-year-old man with the same qualities Ilove in Gavin the same way if he wasn’t a goat?
So many questions I can’t answer.
September is a cock month. Bad! — Nipa Kaowthumrong