In October 2005 I went on a brief hiatus to unite with my fourth and last child, age 11 months, at the social welfare office in Nanchang, capital of one of China’s southern provinces, Jiangxi.
Months earlier, lawyer Chuck Chalmers and I had lodged objections in New York federal court to the original settlement in a freelance writers’ class action copyright infringement case against the newspaper, periodical, and electronic database industries. It would take more than a decade of legal maneuvers — including a detour to the Supreme Court of the United States for the exquisitely titled landmark decision Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick — before a more fair settlement was reached.
As I departed for China, I wrote that I intended to closely monitor the activities of my legal adversaries upon my return, adding: “If I find that the Defense Group, or any of their assorted parents, predecessors, subsidiaries, divisions, and affiliates, or any licensee thereof, engaged in further monkey business, then I shall be forced to instruct Lia Fu Hao to pummel them severely about the head and shoulders.”
More than 14 years later, our whole family is headed back to China for a Chinese New Year week built around the wedding of one of Lia’s three older siblings, Mandarin-fluent American native Nate, and her new sister-in-law, Sophie. (We were all also in China in 2018 for a roots tour for Lia, during which most of us met Sophie for the first time and fell in love with her.)
Nate and Sophie live in Shanghai, but as it turns out, Sophie is also originally from Jiangxi Province, and that is where the wedding will take place.
In 2005, times were fraught. Today, they’re worse. This time I’d best refrain from glib punch lines quoting campy dialogue from the 1960’s Batman TV show. While I’m away for this joyous event, readers can fill in the blanks for yourselves, with a combination of vigilance and good humor.