Yan Can Dog Man


I have fallen hopelessly in love with Martin Yan. For those of you who have yet to experience the pure, sybaritic pleasure that is Mr.Yan, let me try to explain his glorious wonders. Yan has a cooking show on PBS. I think the whole name of it is Yan Can Cook.


He is happy every minute of his life. Every living minute. He speaks English in a thick Chinese accent (something I find excrutiatingly attractive) and everything he says has an almost palpable exclamation point after it. I adore him. Everything he makes is either Delicious, Wonderful, Beautiful or Interesting. Usually all four.


In between cooking up delicious wonderful beautiful interesting dishes, he whisks us away to China or Taiwan or Japan and takes us on little tours of restaurants, or noodle factories, or tofu market stalls. Once he showed us how these spraddle-footed special birds are trained to wear leashes and swim around and catch fish for people. Once he took us on a train and showed us delicious bento box lunches that Japanese commuters enjoy. They were full of fresh sushi! It was Delicious! And Wonderful! and Beautiful!


And it was also, I suppose, interesting, but not as interesting to me as the rich fantasy life I have constructed around Mr. Yan. I like to put his show on and flop down on the sofa and pretend he is my husband. He calls me Mrs. Yan. We are very joyous and formal. I call him just plain Yan because I don't really care for the name Martin. Martin is a character in my friend Lily James' first novel, and I think that character is a butthead. I don't like to associate my nice husband with Lily's anal retentive nervewracked regimental Martin.


Now before you write me off as a complete sicko, let me transcribe a little bit of Yan-speak, so you can join me in the cult of Yan that I am going to form later. This is dialogue lifted almost word for word from a taped episode:


Dropping crabcakes into hot oil: You drop the crab cake in! Look at this! You drop the crabcake in! Look at this! You drop the crabcake in! Look at THAT! MMMM, so delicious!


At a restaurant that makes its own tofu: This is warm fresh tofu in my hand! It is so warm and enticing! MMM, wonderful!


At the end of the show: Now when your friends say that tofu is boring, you can say, no, it is very interesting! And show them this tape! You are taping this! Aren't you!


Perhaps this loses something in translation. You have to imagine Yan saying all this while tossing crab cakes and tofu around with joyful, artistic abandon and whirling great cleavers all over and never breaking eye contact with the camera or hacking off his fingers. And the food always turns out looking like hot, tasty art.


I admit that my Yan fetish was starting to worry me a little, until I realized that it was just a tiny symptom of my real and life-long fetish: Yan is a dogman. At first I didn't recognize him as a dogman because he talks a lot, and I generally don't expect that from dogmen.


Wendi Kaufman once accused me of having a thing about dumb men, but that is because she doesn't understand dogmen. Dogmen are not stupid. I admit that sometimes they may SEEM stupid to the undogman educated, but a true dogman is actually very bright. It is just that dogmen are never, ever introspective. If a dogman begins a sentence with "I feel," you can relax and bask in the certainty that the next words out of his mouth are going to be, "like having a big ol' piece of fried chicken."


Dogmen don't sit around fingering their warty little feelings, they go and do things. And they are usually very good at the things they decide to do. Dogmen understand electricity and power tools and sweat. Dogmen have tough jobs and work too many hours. Dogmen have a straightforward and happy approach to sex. Sex with a dogman is like a huge romp. They swarm around and pick you up and toss you and throw you all over the bed. It's ok to laugh while having sex with a dogman because they are laughing too. Dogmen think gossip is boring, but they sort of think it's cute that you sit around nattering for hours about who wore what at the Oscars. Dogmen don't cheat. Dogmen rarely lie. Dogmen hardly ever have PhDs in any sort of liberal art, but then they surprise you by saying, "Oh, yeah, I read Moby Dick last year. I liked the whaling parts."


Once I realized that Yan was just an unusually talkative dogman, I stopped obsessing so much. I don't have to tape the shows anymore. I just watch. Last Saturday, my husband Scott happened to be there when Yan was on. We sat down and watched it together. I have to admit I felt a little guilty. So I said to him, "You know, sometimes I sit around and fantasize what it would be like to be married to Yan."


He said, "You fantasize about being married to Yan?!"


I said, "No, I fantasize about what it would be like to be married to Yan."


He said, "Oh, ok," and trotted off to kill bears with his bare hands and form big chunks lumber into actual furniture.


Maybe I don't need Yan after all.