Back in 1990, when Feyma and I got married, I faced a situation that required a little bit of couthness, hard thinking, and wiggling to get through. It was a sort of test that was placed in front of me, looking to see what my reaction was. Thankfully, I think I passed!
When I first came to General Santos City with Feyma, after just a day or so, we went to City Hall and applied for our marriage license. Just like John Miele mentioned in his most recent post, part of getting married involves the requirement to attend a Family Planning seminar. If you do not attend this seminar, a license cannot be issued, so of course, we scheduled our seminar time.
When we went to attend the Family Planning seminar, which was held at the City Health Office in General Santos, there were maybe around a dozen couples there for the seminar, but I was the only foreigner there. The teachers took a quick look at the attendees, and she informed me that since I was the only foreigner attending, she would continue with the seminar in the local language, not in English. She said that she was quite certain that I already knew about family planning anyway, so she wanted to make sure that the other people had a good understanding of the issue, and by using the local language she could be sure that they understood what she was talking about. I agreed that I had no problem with this, and I sat there listening (but not understanding) anything said.
After about 10 minutes of sitting there quietly, I noticed that the language suddenly switched to English! The teacher said:
Mr. Martin, we will have a quiz, and you will be the one to answer. The question for you is this: Would you prefer that your wife is good in the kitchen, or good in the bedroom?
Oops! I was on the spot now. As I considered this carefully, I realized that no matter how I answered, I could be in trouble! Oh my, what should I say.
I thought for a minute or so, weighing the various answers and the reaction that I might get. I was totally new here, and knew nothing about the culture here at that time. I kept considering. Then, the right answer came to me, I believe.
I responded: I would prefer a wife that is good in the bedroom.
Laughter roared in the room.
The teacher followed up: Why?
My response: Because, I figure that if my wife is bad in the kitchen, I can always hire a cook. If my wife is bad in the bedroom, I don’t think it would be right to hire somebody to take care of that!
Ah, I got approval from the teacher on that one! And, the other students in the seminar seemed to like the answer too!
I must say, it was quite a shock to hear that question, and I advise John Miele to be ready for some sort of trick question like this when he attends the Family Planning seminar in preparation for his wedding. In a society like the Philippines, it is very important to handle a question like this with a bit of class. I think that the question was asked specifically to me just to see what a foreigner would say, how he would handle the question, etc.
I’m glad that I got approval from my answer! It was really an (almost) un-answerable question!