A Punk Way To Get Married

Adam's illustration of the process it takes to marry one of the locals in Taiwan.
By Adam Ende
Published in The China Post

Dear friends and family,

Me and Yuchen moved south and got married. It’s taken me a while to get this wedding announcement out to you, because I’ve been trying to finish that cute drawing of me and Yuchi. I kept wanting to change it and add more details. Actually, I started working on it 2 and a half months ago, and it was originally intended as a change of address announcement, but I delayed, then we got married, and I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I just finished adding the chest hair today and figured I better get this wedding announcement out before it’s time to send out a birth announcement, and I get into a whole disheartening official announcement backlog situation.

I guess I better explain a couple of things in the drawing. The
Chinese character on the sign with the arrow is nan which means south.
And the caveman with the mohawk and the uke is speaking Spanish — he’s
saying, “Baby, don’t complain. You see–that’s what happens to you
for sleeping without panties. You pig!” Ha ha. Also, check out
another thing about this drawing — fijaos en como la han crecido las
tetas a la Tia Yuchi desde que se quedo embarazada! Vaya suerte que
tiene uno! No? Tios, os dais cuenta? A que esperais? Deja ya este
email (luego lo podras mirar con calma). Venga! Todo el mundo a
follar! Ya! Y sin condon, eh!

So, yeah, we got hitched. Okay okay, don’t think I can’t see that
stupid little smile creeping onto your face! I know what you’re
thinking, but you’re wrong. Just because we got married doesn’t mean
we have embraced your bourgeois institutions. We haven’t! We’re
still punk! getting married doesn’t prove anything. Well, that’s not
entirely true — it does prove one thing — we’re not to be trusted! It
shows that we are both willing to throw aside our most heartfelt
values for the sake of convenience. We’re willing to implicitly
support a system which we don’t believe in for our own personal gain,
leaving all our poor little gay compadres standing out in the cold.
And don’t start bringing up how some stupid cities recognize gay
marriage now–come on–nobody takes that nonsense seriously. I
repeat–you can’t trust us as far as you can spit. I’m sorry.
Anyway, we’re very happy, and we laugh a lot.

We had a very funny wedding. It was all about fighting with civil
servant ladies. We just wanted to get married quickly and easily and
cheaply. So we found out that you just have to go to a stationary
store and buy a marriage license, and then you can get married in any
public place with at least two witnesses. And then we’d have to take
the license to this government office, where they’d make it official
by adding my name to yuchi’s domiciliary register and ID card. I was
expecting to buy some piece of paper, some stupid document, at the
stationary store, but much to my surprise, the marriage license is a
fancy red book with dragons and phoenixes. I bought the book, and we
figured, why bother with the formalities? and besides we don’t know
anyone in Tainan city, so we called up a couple of friends in Taipei,
asked them if they wanted to be our witnesses, wrote in their names
and id numbers on the marriage license, and, for the place, Yuchen
wrote in Underworld, a bar in Taipei that she likes.

So we went to the office one day, and ran into some unforeseen obstacles. They said
that they couldn’t accept those witnesses because we had obviously
just written in their names, and we need proper witnesses, with their
signatures and their little stamp. So Yuchen started accosting the
people sitting around waiting for their number to be called at this
office, asking them to witness our wedding, and that we would get
married right there in the office. But The bitchy civil servant
ladies, said, no no no, we see what you’re doing, you can’t just ask
strangers to be your witness, and can’t get married like that here in
the office, you have to get married in a fancy hotel restaurant with
lots of guests, and a big feast, “and what is this Underworld?” “It’s
a bar.” “You’ll have to write in restaurant.”

But that wasn’t the only problem. Also they wouldn’t accept my Chinese name. You see
sometimes white guys and other foreign folks have to make up Chinese
names for themselves for some official documents, and most people have
someone choose a Chinese name for them that sounds sort of like their
real name. But my Chinese name is silly. It’s Xiao Hozi. That means
Little Monkey. With the Xiao (Little) being my surname, because
Chinese people put their last name first. Are you following me?

Anyway, they said I would have to choose a different name, because
Xiao is not on the list of acceptable chinese surnames, and they
showed us some article in a law about how you have to follow standard
chinese practice when choosing a name. And I was like, I don’t want
another name, what the hell difference does it make — of course I don’t
have a proper Chinese name — I’m not a proper Chinese person! No
matter what name I choose, it’s not my real name anyway, it’s still
just a stoopit name that I’m making up, who cares? And I started
pulling out my alien resident card and my no-criminal record document
from the Taipei county police, all of which had Xiao Hozi down as my
legal name. The cops and the immigration people just thought it was
funny and typed it right in, so why the hell were these ladies getting
all bent out of shape?

Maybe they didn’t like our clothes — I was wearing some very
ripped up dirty shorts and a tank top, and Yuchita
had wrapped her very pregnant self up in some crazy shmata.

That night Yuchen called her lawyer friend who looked into it, and
found that Article 2 of that same law said that any character in the
Chinese dictionary is acceptable as a name. Ha! The next day we went
back to the office. Yuchen had on a cute little red polka dot dress
and I went wearing a tie and fancy shiny black pointy shoes and high
waters. We looked cute and were ready for action. We asked Emma, a
young lady with whom I do language exchange, to grab a friend and meet
us at the little fish belly rice soup place. There we crossed out
Underworld and the names of our friends in Taipei, and wrote in the
name of the fish belly rice soup place and Emma and her friend on our
marriage license, and arrived at the office armed with article 2.

Again the bitchy civil servant ladies insisted that I have to change
my name. Yuchen showed them the law, and said, look we know the
law — you can’t stop us from getting married. And we proceeded to
fight with these ladies for a long time. Yuchen is pretty scrappy.

Anyway, regardless of the law, they continued to insist that Xiao is
not a proper surname. It is so low. They claimed they were worried
about our child taking on such a low surname. But we were adamant,
and finally told them to call their superior. They said they would
have to call their boss in Taipei, and kept us waiting for a really
long time–and this is after wasting our time the day before, and
arguing with us for a half hour this time. Finally, the bitchiest of
the ladies came up to us and asked us to pick another number. Can you
believe she asked us to pick a fucking number again? Yuchen asked
her, “Hey, hey–what did he say? Can we get married? Can my fiance
use his name?”

“Yes yes, you can use that name,” she said frowning.

Ha ha! Then I did a victory dance (I had earlier told Yuchen that if
I could keep my name I would do a victory dance in the office), and
rubbed my butt in their general direction, and sang, “My name is xiao
hozi, xiao hozi
is my name! You can’t change my name, xiao hozi is my
name!” After that they called our number, and we filled out some
paperwork, and now we’re married. Our marriage license is this very
funny weird document–the fancy red book with dragons and phoenixes,
but with all this shit scratched out and other stuff written in, a
nice reflection of all the crazy fighting that went on at our wedding.

On the way out, we noticed a suggestion box. So Yuchen wrote a long
complaint, saying essentially that if you don’t know the laws, you
should call your boss first before hassling the good citizens of this
city, based purely on your own opinions and prejudices. And that
after wasting our time for two days, not to mention our money as
taxpayers, when it turned out that we were in the right, you had the
gall to ask us to pick another number, and nobody even apologized!
And she signed her name and wrote down her phone number. When we got
home later that day, the phone rang, and it was one of the civil
servants. She had read Yuchen’s complaint, and she said that she
would tell her people to be more knowledgeable about the law, and she
apologized and said congratulations. Ha!

About a week or so later, we were walking down the street, and Yuchen
asked me if I could remember what day we got married. I said, “Nope.
How about you?” She couldn’t remember either. So we figured if we
can’t remember when we got married, we can’t celebrate our wedding
anniversary, and we’d just as soon celebrate the anniversary of the
day we met, which was one night at a World Cup party, which of course
means that we only have an anniversary once every four years. That’s
so special, right?

Me and Yuchi are a good team. Tainan city doesn’t know what hit ’em.

Adam Ende and Yuchen do puppet theatre around the world.

Related article: “Puppetmaster brings avante-garde theater to Taiwan”

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