Friday, August 24, 2018

Marriage, According To Tam

Each year in class I talk about Tam Tran. I have to differentiate between the two Tam Trans I've taught at WCS but this is about the older one (slightly) who also played basketball for me and played it well. I told my classes how in seventh grade, there was some sort of small problem with Tam and her teacher. The teacher wanted to speak to Tam's mom who came in for a conference. There was a problem; the teacher spoke no Vietnamese and Tam's mom spoke no English. So, the lovely Tam was the translator for both sides of that transaction. I asked my students if they thought Tam might just have interpreted just a tiny bit to her own advantage. They all knowingly laughed- some of them are in that same situation! This entry is from September 13, 2006.

I wore a pink tie to school Monday. Every day, I give my Bible classes a bonus question with random answers to tack on the end of their quiz, memory verse, or test. The extra credit puzzler on Monday was, "Who gave me this tie?" The answer was contained in the following list on the board of young ladies, all of whom played for my middle school girls' basketball team:
Delisa Somoye
Anna Pashas
Lauren Runnels

Katie Keese
Leticia Cuellar
Tam Tran

The correct response was....Tam Tran. (I've found the students are reluctant to guess either the first or last answer listed, for some reason!) A sophomore now at one of Houston's public high schools, Tam was a member of my team in seventh and eighth grade. She always played hard, earned good grades, and had a lifelong crush on one the players on our boys' high school team. (Discretion requires my refraining from revealing his identity.) That year in my eighth grade Bible class, we were discussing marriage in different societies. Tam was a student in that section of Bible as was Jennifer Phung. The parents of both girls are from Vietnam. I mentioned that in our school directory, both the mothers had different last names than the fathers, even though there was no divorce in either case. I asked Tam and Jennifer why this was so. The explanation was that in Vietnamese culture, the woman retains her maiden name and the children take the last name of the father. Since both of them were being raised in the United States, I was curious to what they would do when they married. Jennifer stated she would hold to tradition and keep her maiden name. Tam's answer deserves a word-for-word quotation.
"Coach, I'm going to keep my maiden name."

Tam thought for a second, then added,
"Unless he's really cute!"

Two years later, I'm still laughing about her marriage declaration. Isn't that just like all of us? We make promises, often without thinking our position through. We fully intend to live up to our oaths. But when the critical moment arrives, we realize completing the commitment is much harder than verbalizing it. We come to grips with the reality that we were wrong or rash. I have made many bold statements in my time: I will always do this or I will never do that. At least I know I'm in good company. Bible stories remind us that this didn't begin in the last few generations. Peter and the apostles swore they would never desert Jesus. Naaman swore he wouldn't be healed by the waters of the Jordan River. Sometimes, we just have to eat our words. It's easy when you are an eighth grader like Tam was. They just get much harder to swallow when you get older.

Applicable quote of the day:
"I don't have a bank account because I don't know my mother's maiden name."
Paula Poundstone

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jon said...

That is hillarious!!

Bev said...

Your posts are always "food for thought". When we were first married, we went to Washington D.C. for my 21st birthday and when we went to check into a Holiday Inn (Chevy Chase, Maryland to be exact) they asked us what name we would be under and we said "Strange", they told us we'd have to come up with a better one than that and asked to see I.D. Well, 37 years later we still go by that name-- people still look quizzical at you when you tell them your name or have some little joke to say. Steve was cute and just back from like Tam, guess that's why I took that name. Have a good week, Steve... XO steve&beverly