For most of the world, being Hmong usually means that you’re an immigrant group who likes to live close to each other and eat smelly, spicy foods. It probably also means that you’re in a gang, or you know someone who’s in a gang. And you’ve probably worked on an assembly line at least once in your lifetime. But enough about stereotypes that are absolutely true, let’s get down to the list of things only Hmong people will understand!
1. A driveway is for parking
On any given day, you will see about half a dozen cars parked in our driveways. It’s not because we’re car collectors, but it’s because every person in our house needs a car to get to work. If you see a driveway full of cars, that means we’re all contributing members of society that mostly pays our taxes. Or it means that someone in that house is a mechanic and is doing work on the side.
2. Leftover fish is better the next day
Most Hmong people look forward to their lunch the next day when it’s fish. Especially at the work place. A unique process in the cooked fish creates an extra tender texture to the dish when given a day or two to savor in its own sauces.
3. One hour late means on-time
If you want us to show up on time, then please tell us the event starts an hour earlier than it really does. This will give Hmong people enough time to be right on time, even though they’re probably still going to be late.
4. One fingertip length is just about perfect
While for non-Hmong people, they might be satisfied with the entire length of the finger or even two or three digits wide. But for Hmong people, just the finger tip length is perfect. Any less will make it dry, any deeper and it’ll be too soggy and ruined.
5. A spoon or half-dollar coin can be two of the most painful torture devices ever created
Normally these are two ordinary items in itself, but show a spoon or dollar coin to any Hmong person and it will conjure up some painful memories. Some will probably even faint at the very sight of them, others will yell and scream at you to get it out of the house. Never show these two things to a Hmong person, ever.
6. All plants are indoor plants
During the winter when growing up, most of our roommates included not only our siblings but also our parent’s plants. You’ll catch hell if you happen to knock one over while wrestling with your brother, apparently there will be a time when someone needs help passing a kidney stone or cured of cancer so you do not want to mess up those plants when they come knocking.
7. The Moon is pretty fucking petty
I mean, you point to it one time as a defiant kid and now your right ear lobe is freaking dangling off the side of your head the next morning. WTF, Moon?! Way to overreact! Geez!
8. The youngest son carries the biggest burdens
Nothing is as sacred as family, so when it comes to carrying the biggest burdens of the family it often falls on the youngest son. Hopefully when that time comes, they’re married and have a stable home. But only recently has that burden been given a choice to any of the siblings, Hmong women are stronger and can handle anything these days.
9. Taking off your shoes at the front door
Technically this is a general Asian thing, but what distinguishes the Hmong from the practice of taking off their shoes before entering a house is that we usually have about 50 dozen pairs of shoes piled up behind the front door. So take caution when walking into a Hmong house, you’ll probably trip over the mountain of soles. And good luck finding your left shoe when leaving, that’s if someone hasn’t already walked off with them mistakenly.
10. Rice in water is our bread and butter
There will be times when financial responsibility has drained our bank accounts and forced us to forget to pay the bills, which in turn shuts off the server that runs one’s favorite website without any current backups. But if your initials don’t start with a Z and ends with a Q, then you’re probably just simple and cheap. And being the thrifty and awesome Hmong person that you are, you’ve also probably had a meal that consists of rice in water. There’s just something refreshing about a bowl of rice in water that brings back nostalgic memories to the time when blocks of cheese were mailed to us, or when we would add spoonfuls of sugar to our generic brand corn flakes and pretend they were Frosted Flakes. Whatever the case, keeping it simple is sometimes best for the soul. If you need extra help with that, add a few slices of ginger in salt to spice things up a little. But don’t get too carried away, we’re not rich!
We’re sure there are other things that only Hmong people understand, so please feel free to post below in the comments and share your favorite Hmongisms with us! Or create your own list using the frontend submission tool! -ZQ