19: Shen Li (Shen Li)

Shen's father had explained to him that Western culture was not uncultured, just different, and impressed on him that it was wise to not criticize other cultures, like with shoes. Westerners felt that taking off shoes in someone else house assumed a level of intimacy that might not have been offered. When he thought about it, it sort of made sense from a certain point of view. Of course this depended on where you were in the country, the climate and other things. Of course some Americans insisted that shoes be removed. They were not a monolithic people. From what he understood from his parents American friends leaving any food implements in food was considered rude, as utensil when not in use had a place on the table.

It was hardly that Shen was reading Min's mind, but at his last school other people's etiquette was a frequent topic of conversation. So he assumed there were just doing the habitual internal monologue about such things. He had been fascinated to learn that at a certain point a repeat visitor to a home was no longer considered a guest per se, and you could tell you had crossed the threshold into being considered a member of the household when a request for a drink would be answered with a reminder that the cups were in cupboard. It wasn't that they no longer wished to serve a friend, but an offer to treat their home as your own. Shen thought it was a complicated negotiation, but he remembered that Americans favored independence, so they were not moving towards rudeness in their minds, but welcoming you to act freely.

To the outside conversation he smiled at being considered smart, -He assumed that was what Min meant, the only Brainiac he knew of was a supervillain who shrank cities. He grinned at Min, an acknowledgement that he had gotten lost in his own internal monologue. "I wouldn't say I am a genius dreaming of impossible machines and miniaturization, but I like to keep my body and mind sharp, Martin used to say our great grandmother was so loopy because she had stopped learning things..." He stopped for a second. It had been funny at the time, Martin was 11 and hadn't processed that Khun Yay had dementia. "He didn't know he was being mean at the time, but it scared me into wanting to always study and be active."

He didn't know what a puffin was. "Who is Harada?"

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