Household items whose English names were unknown to me for a while

step stools are called bing bongs in my family

My elementary school encouraged my parents to speak English at home, so that we wouldn’t be totally lost when we went to school. (That was bad advice – we could have grown up bilingual! But I’ll save that rant for another day.) So my parents spoke a little less Chinese and a bit more English to us, and eventually we were responding exclusively in English. But a few English words eluded me for a long time, and even today, their Chinese names come to mind before their English counterparts.

a feather duster is a tool for asian parents to beat children

If you don’t know about this, ask your ABC friends. I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t just our family. Yay, we can all bond over the absurd feeling of running with your hands over your butt! I never processed that those three characters are basically “chicken fur sweep” because it just meant “time to get an ass whoopin'”. I don’t know when I even learned that the thing was actually for dusting stuff off. Ours was so dusty living atop Mommy’s Fridge that it probably wouldn’t have actually cleaned anything.

gu hon gwaat / miser scrape is such a better name than rubber spatula

This one followed me into adult life. In fact, I’m still not satisfied that it’s just referred to as a generic ol’ spatula. That’s so boring and unspecific!! It’s a scraping-device-for-frugal-misers.

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