The Ground Rules of Asian Hygiene, With Examples

  I was shocked, shocked the other night! One of my friends, a very nice  Chinese girl, was cold, so one of our white friends offered her a  jacket. She asked him if it was washed and in a plastic bag. He said  no. She and I recoiled in horror, and he responded merely with  confusion. This incident finally showed me that a very wide cultural  gulf exists between Asia and the United States. For the sake of racial  harmony, I have taken it upon myself to describe The Rules of Asian  Hygiene. Here they are:   

1. Dirt is invisible. It could be germs, it could be carcinogenic  chemicals, or merely particles of yick that are too small to see. Just  because it looks clean, doesn’t mean it is.   

2. There is no three second rule. If it hits the floor, it is dirty.  You must rinse it or throw it away, as appropriate.   

3. Plastic grocery bags are considered clean, if harvested directly  from a grocery store, and stored inside a grocery bag whose interior  has also been determined to be clean.   

4. Rinsing with water is sufficient to purify most items. Lysol and  rubbing alcohol should also be employed as necessary in more extreme  circumstances. However, dirt magically accumulates as a function of  time if the item has been exposed to air, so you must either seal your  things with a plastic bag, or periodically wash them.   

5. Your own stuff is usually clean for your own consumption, but you  cannot use other people’s things unless they have been thoroughly  purified.   

6. Food must be as clean as possible, but it counts as dirt if it  touches something that isn’t your mouth. For example, dropping a piece  of watermelon sullies both the watermelon with the dirt from the  floor, and the floor with watermelon juice.   

Now that you are familiar with the ground rules, you have the context  to understand certain Asian customs.   

1. Shoes off before you enter a house. Don’t track dirt inside! Who  cares if it wasn’t muddy? Remember: dirt is invisible! Truly hardcore  Asian families will tear up the carpet and replace them with hardwood  floors so it’s easier to clean and see dirt.   

2. Shower at night, not in the morning. You’ll be sleeping in your own dirt.   

Still having trouble understanding? See if you can spot the error in  the following scenario:   

Belinda’s white friend Leonard offers her an orange. It has been  unpeeled. He didn’t wash his hands before offering it to her, and,  instead of handing it to her, he puts it on the table for her to pick  up. What rules of Asian hygiene were broken?   

Answer: Since he didn’t wash his hands, and  hands constantly accumulate dirt as described in rule 4, he contaminated the range, thus breaking rule 6. By not throwing away the orange, Leonard also  broke rule 2. The juice of the orange has also  contaminated the table, again by rule 6, thus forcing Belinda to go through  the extra trouble of finding a damp rag to clean the table off with. What an inconsiderate boy!   

Now that you have read The Rules and seen a real-world example, it  should be easy for you to identify what went so horribly wrong with  our white friend’s well-intentioned proffering of his jacket. It was a tragic trampling of rules 4 and 5; a particularly egregious example. You really can’t make this shit up.   

And with this modest contribution to cross-cultural understanding and  harmony between the East and the West, I am going to bed.    

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