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Bones and Chinese homes

Captain’s Log, Stardate 03.27.2007

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My grandma’s living room on a TV show…

I hope all y’all aren’t burned out on all the Asian American stuff, but my husband and I saw something the other night that had us laughing our fannies off.

I like the TV show Bones, and we were watching an old episode on our TiVo that we hadn’t had the time to watch earlier.

There was one scene where Dr. Brennan goes with a Chinese American anthropologist from the Jeffersonian Institute to an old Chinese woman’s home. They were sitting in her living room.

The room was furnished with lots of Chinese knickknacks, although the layout was standard—two couches facing each other with a coffee table in between, a fireplace at one side.

I noticed it before my husband did—the couch, a nice white brocade, was still covered with the slick, clear plastic cover it came in.

This practice of not removing the plastic cover off a couch or cloth-seat dining room chairs is VERY Chinese. Captain Caffeine’s grandmothers do this. Our friends’ parents and relatives and in-laws do this.

I don’t know if other ethnic-American groups do this—if your family does this, speak up! I’d love to know. It’s just incredibly authentic Chinese American, and it was hilarious to us to see it on a TV show. We both couldn’t stop laughing.

(Okay, writing it down for my blog post just doesn’t seem as funny as it did when we were watching the TV show. Sigh. I’m such a dork sometimes.)


  1. A friend from high school's mother kept their couch covered, so I always sat on the floor :) (They were dutch, lol)

  2. It sounds funny. I "grew up" in Minnesota so when the movie "Fargo" came out me and my friend laughed and laughed through this movie because we recognized so many things!
    So now I'm curious. Did I miss your movie review of "Lady in the Water"'s portrayal of a Asain American family . . .?

  3. Greeks do it too! My best friend is Greek, and it took all I had to keep my mouth from dropping open when I saw the plastic on the couch and the dining room chairs. The only Greek person that my friend knows who does take the plastic off is her crazy (in a good way) second cousin. But then he's a millionaire...

  4. I've heard of this before, but I always thought it was a Grandma thing. In Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray's mom had her couch (a 70's relic) covered in clear plastic. Sure would make it easier to keep away the pet hair.

  5. I used to make fun of my grandmother (a very proper Southern lady of English/Irish descent,) who did this, too! I had a whole routine I'd go into about Grandmother's Puh-las-tic couch.

    Yes, I think this is one of those generation things, too. They kept the puh-las-tic on the lamps, too. I thought you were supposed to keep those on your lamps, until I saw at my friends' houses their mothers didn't...LOL.(I'm a whole bunch older than you.)

    I NEVER get too tired of your referrals to Asian things.(part of the reason I read this--but also because I like you so much) Love your voice. Love your blog.

    By the way, wanted you to know I really like your new photo. You look very chic.

  6. Camy, I just saw this episode of Bones, too, and thought of you! LOL

    It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I discovered you were supposed to take the plastic wrap off the lampshades! No female over forty in my family ever did.

    And my grandmother, who is Scandinavian-Canadian, may have taken the plastic off her couch, but she puts little walking mats down on the carpet from the door all the way to the couch, then more in a neat row in front of it so your shoes don't get the carpet dirty.

    Shelley B.

  7. LOL! My granny was from eastern Europe and she kept her sofa covered in very uncomforable, sticky plastic. I think my German granny did, too. What great memories! I'm getting a new loveseat delivered this weekend and with two preschoolers, maybe keeping the plastic on isn't such a bad idea... :)

  8. Camy,

    Its an African-American thing too. My mother had a room we only went in on holidays. It had gold furniture with plastic on it.

    They said the plastic kept the furniture new looking. I thought it was hot and sticky in the summer time and cold in the winter.

    I promised myself when I got furniture I wouldn't by the plastic. However I did settle for leather. Best decision I ever made.

    Laugh at the tradition, but if you have children you understand the plastic concept now. Sticky fingers make sticky messes.

    Enjoy the conference

  9. My MIL (eastern European) tried to get me to cover my chairs and couches too "to save them". They were not that nice to begin with, I could not understand it very well!
    i enjoy watching Bones too!


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