kids say the darnest things

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a response from one of my students on the writing section of her Achievement Test. The topic was about the different types of social comparison (upward and downward). I teach English to native Korean students. This girl is, I believe, an 11-year old 6th grade student.

There are two kinds of social comparison, which is upward and downward. I think I am both of them. I sometimes compare upward and sometimes I think downward. I compare upward when I see a pretty person because for example that person has big eyes, long skinny legs, small face, and tall, but I don’t have them. Also, if my friend get perfect score or she’s smart, I would compare upward. I compare downward when I see a stupid, ugly person. For example, if that person got really bad score, I would think downward. Overall, I think I compare myself downward and upward.

Categories: Uncategorized

My First Valentine’s Day and más…

September 9, 2010 1 comment

In order to honor the integrity of the individuals mentioned and written about in this piece, I have changed the names, except for Elizabeth. This excerpt was also supposed to be a part of a larger piece that I will post in the near-future.

I grew up with my parents telling me that I couldn’t have a girlfriend until I was in college. That, however, didn’t mean that I didn’t try. I remember my first crush being a girl at church; I was in the second grade. She was a fourth-grader. Taking after my old man[1], I feared not the experience of a young woman two years my elder. Her name was Elizabeth, and I looked upon her as if I were a wide-eyed Mr. Darcy. I have a few salient memories from the experience of my first crush. The most salient of these took place at an elementary school event held at church for Valentine’s Day. Each student was asked to bring in a small gift for the occasion. I remember going to Toys-R-Us, obviously because this is where every man does all his shopping. They have all your necessities—action figures, video games—back in the day, you would pick them up behind a glass booth[2] after your purchase, bikes, Halloween costumes, stuffed animals and chocolates. For Elizabeth, I went above and beyond and picked up both chocolates and a stuffed animal.

When I got to church that evening with wrapped gifts in hand and the hope that Elizabeth would be my Valentine in heart, I was soon disappointed by hearing of the gift exchange details. Gifts, placed in a large pile near the front of the church dining hall, would be selected at random and given to a recipient. I was devastated and torn. On one hand, I had hand-picked this gift that my mom wrapped extra neatly for me; and here it was, sitting like a duck in a pond to be given away to some unassuming elementary schooler with no aspirations of Valentine’s Day romance. After all, we were elementary school kids. What did we know about romance? On the other hand, I was too much of a coward to stand up from the circle we were sitting in, stride over to the corral of gifts, take mine and present it on bended knee to thy dear Elizabeth. I probably imagined her giving me a big hug and later, we’d find some corner to sit in while she told me all about how much she liked her stuffed animal. Unfortunately, reality played out a little differently. When it came to Elizabeth’s turn, she was given a gift from the pile that wasn’t mine. However, my grandmother, who was sitting nearby with all the other grandmothers witnessing the gift exchange, could not simply sit quietly and allow such an injustice to occur. While my heart sank, my indignant grandmother waddled over to the stage where my gift sat excitedly, like a baby pleading to be lifted and held. She grabbed it, walked over to Elizabeth and exchanged her erroneous gift for the one that was meant to be. At the time, I was blushing brighter the paper red hearts that decorated the walls of the dining room, but in retrospect, this was a testament to how much my grandmother loved and still loves me. To this day, more than anything, it is her joy to see me happy; and I am grateful that she spared me the disappointment that I would have felt to have that gift find the hands of another woman (or boy), especially after all the trouble I went through to have my mom drive me to Toys-R-Us, pay for the gift and wrap it for me. This was my first real crush. We didn’t date, in case you were wondering. I think I was later rejected—she told me that I was too young for her.

the true woman of my dreams.

Through the years, I had a string of minor crushes until the seventh grade when I became obsessed with another girl at church. When I say “obsessed,” I mean like, I was writing about this girl in my journal, I thought the song “If you’re not the one” by Daniel Bedingfield epitomized my hopeless affection and admiration for her. Needless to say, I am pretty sure that my desperation was a bit of a turn-off and nothing amounted to anything during my three years of pursuit. Yes, I literally pursued one girl for three years—from seventh to tenth grade. This was the beginning of my hopeless romantic phase, where I started listening to emo music and began watching Dawson’s Creek[3]. Even to this day, there is something that tugs at my heartstrings about Dawson’s Creek. The show is cheesy as hell, but I think the growing up in a small town, being smitten by one girl for many years and pursuing her resonated with my idealistic notions of what I wanted and hoped for in romance. A few years later, summer after I graduated high school, I ended up dating my seventh grade obsession[4], two years after the fact. Up until this point, I really had no real girl experience. The extent of my female relationships were close friends and a semi-summer fling at a summer camp at Harvard University, where I attended an 8-week academic program for high school students the summer after my tenth grade year. Normally, during summer flings, you have something hot and steamy, and it is a more physical relationship than anything. Or at least, this is how I see it. I came centimeters from having my first kiss that summer, but it never came to fruition. However, it was on my terms. I had holding out on my first kiss for something special, and I guess I may not have felt convicted enough to fulfill Pocahontas’s request of a Good Night kiss before we parted ways after the 11pm check-in. Instead, we shared a tender hug, and I said something to the effect of:  “next time.” Therefore, I poetically put off my first kiss until a summer night in 2006, when I really faced for the first time that quiet moment when both people are looking at each other after some suspenseful build-up, usually flirtatious horseplay to break the touch barrier. I mean, when you get to that point, you both know it’s coming; you’re glancing at her lips and she’s eying yours like a fat kid at the sight of cake. Remember gentlemen: You go 90, and allow her to come 10. After all, consent it sexy.

[1] My mom is two years older than my dad. In traditional Korean society, from how I understand it to be, it is taboo for a woman to marry a younger man. That is just how much game my daddy-o had.

[2] As a child, I remembered thinking that they kept all these video games in this contained booth because they didn’t want kids stealing all their precious games.

[3] Though Dawson was always the hopeless romantic on the show, I was and always will be in the Pacey Witter club. All the Twilight Edward vs. Jacob battle is is a dumb-downed, more superficial, fantastical, less sophisticated version of Pacey Witter vs. Dawson Leery.

[4] Her name was Cruella.

Where’s Waldo: The Asian Man’s Burden

September 8, 2010 20 comments

At some point between middle school and high school, I realized that I no longer could just look at the opposite gender and see them for what it was—human beings who typically had longer hair, curves in areas that I didn’t and know lump behind the zipper. Instead, there would be an assessment of whether or not I found that person attractive. In the beginning, this assessment, if you will, was more deliberate, but not intentional. As I grew older, and my voice deepened and turf grew just under the belt buckle, this assessment was instantaneous, like reactions to an inkblot test. Her…I’m attracted to. Her…I am not attracted to (This is not to say that she is not attractive. I simply am not attracted to her). I actually witnessed this happening before my very eyes. I remember asking myself, “Why is it that I can’t just look at females any more and think nothing?” It’s as if I must determine whether or not I find them attractive, physically, at least. My theory begins with our coming of age into that mode when we walk into a room, go to a new place, start a new job, begin the school year or attend a first class and instinctively look around our environment for people we find to be attractive; it’s like an animal coming into a new territory and sniffing around to find potential prey. For those of you who have been to college, you remember orientation week or moving onto your freshmen floor? You scope out the scene, you introduce yourself to people in dorm rooms, at parties and on your floor. For some people, the thought “Who can I hook up with?” flashes into their minds. For others: “He’s cute. I hope I get to know him better.” Regardless of what kind of thought it is that does cross your mind, you are mindful of the people you find attractive. Not only this, you usually remember that person’s name.

As the only non-Caucasian in my friend group in high school and as one of the only Asians at my high school, I grew up being one of the few kids that didn’t have a significant other, while others went through a different significant other every few weeks. In high school, there was not too much of an option other than to pursue Caucasian females, but it was pretty clear early on that none were interested (in me). So, where does Waldo play into all of this?

Basically, Asian guys, for the most part, become a part of the scenery, like in a Where’s Waldo picture book. Notice that in a Where’s Waldo scene, you never notice anyone that isn’t Waldo; they are not special. The only individuals you assess are the people wearing a red and white striped shirt. Everyone else is just a part of the background. Similarly, females who have no interest in men of ethnic heritage, mostly females from the South or most red states, simply gloss over Asian guys. Why? Because they are not familiar with the notion of finding Asian males attractive. Therefore, these females do not even bother making that instant assessment “Do I find him attractive?” And the reason they don’t make this assessment usually is due to a subconscious belief that all Asians look alike[1]. I know this sounds racist, but seriously, think about it. With a few exceptions, how do you describe Asian males? He has black hair, brown eyes, and he’s either short or medium height.

Do you know Daniel Lee?

Which one?

The Korean guy with short black hair, brown eyes, about 5’9” and medium build.

Oh, that guy…

Yeah, riiiiiight. At least with other races, you can use blonde, brunette, red, strawberry-blonde, blue, green, aquamarine, 6’4”, 6’6”. For people who are not used to meeting many Asians, they do not possess an eye to distinguish distinct Oriental features and appreciate types of beauty that are not common in the West.

Until college, I did not have many Indian friends. I knew maybe a handful from middle and high school, but it wasn’t until my freshmen year that I had a few Indians as close friends. My sophomore year, I lived with an Indian fellow by the name of Varun, who became a pretty popular figure in the Indian community, through being active in the South-Asian culture club, performing on an Indian cultural dance team—CU Bhangra—and generally just being a real solid guy. Through this friendship and roommate-ship, I began to make more Indian friends, and they no longer all looked the same to me anymore. I mean, you really could say this about any group of people, except white people really never say it about white people. I even confuse Asians all the time. No big deal.

Gradually, through growing a greater appreciation for Indians in general, by building friendships and becoming more familiar with the culture, I also began to find people of that heritage more attractive. Learning to appreciate different cultures or heritages that you are not used to is a lot like acquiring a taste for beer or exotic foods. With more exposure, your appreciation for it grows[2].

So, where does the burden lie? The burden lies in the pressure to make an impression. If you are any guy, much less an Asian guy, if you want a girl to remember you, you have to stand out (or your looks have to stand out). Asian guys are immediately at a disadvantage because their looks don’t stand out. I can’t tell you how many times I have met females in a variety of circumstance, usually white, that I knew upon shaking their hand that they won’t remember me or my name. If I were the only Asian at the event or in the room, then I’d probably be remembered or referred to as “that Asian kid.” I almost feel inclined to say that there is little one can do to change a person’s perspective on an entire race of people, but based on my own personal experience, I don’t think that that is true. You can, in fact, make an impression on a person to make them see you in all your colors. Just don’t feel pressure to change or to stand out if it isn’t for you. Chances are, the type of girl or boy you want to win over isn’t someone who you have to prove yourself to; it’s someone who can see you are indeed beautiful.

[1] This fact, however, may be true. I cannot tell you how many times, since I’ve been here in Korea that I’ve seen someone and thought that it was someone I knew back at school. It’s quite trippy.


[2] Unless, all you drink is Natty Light. Then, just get out.

Just Friends

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

“Guys are the scum of the Earth,” Parker thought, sipping on his Stella and eyeing the frat kid hitting on the girl across the bar. Parker couldn’t hear what he was saying to her, but he knew that she was eating up every word. All the signs were there. Though her back was turned, he could tell she was giggling, looking down to shyly avoid the frat guy’s gaze, and he was grinning from ear to ear. With just a few more drinks in her system, he’d be taking her back to his frat house for a romantic evening, which she’d later regret.

Parker came out tonight because his friends insisted on him going out to mingle and throw back a couple beers with them. He had already changed into his pajamas and brushed his teeth before his buddy Jared started up.

“Yo man, you need to get out; I’m tired of watching you waste away your life holed up in this room. When was the last time you went out with your friends?” he inquired, sounding like a worried mom. Parker knew it had been ages; he hadn’t wanted to go out with the gang since he and Angela had broken up.

“Are you still fixated on that broad?” Jared interrogated, “Trust me man, you are not going to run into her while we’re out; I guarantee you. Plus, the only way you’re going to get over her is if you start putting yourself out there again. If you take any longer recuperating over that ex of yours, who by the way didn’t even treat you well, then you risk facing ostracization by all that is woman.”

Leaning into the bar counter, Parker looked to his left and looked right, studying the crowd that had packed into the joint this evening. Jared was right, he thought.  Though he had no intention of being the slightest bit disrespectful to women, not to mention his discomfort with swapping saliva with a complete stranger, he simply needed to know that he was over Angela. In his mind, the litmus test would be whether he had the cojones[1] to risk potential rejection and emotional misery in order to pursue something that in all likelihood would amount to nothing[2], knowing that all the progress he had made in the past few months could instantly go to shit.

“How you doing buddy?” Jared said, leaning in and slapping Parker’s back. Parker could tell Jared was sufficiently tipsy by the way he was being loud and unusually affectionate.

“Look over there,” Parker pointed, “Can you believe that that guy is gonna take her home? Look at that! He’s telling her how pretty she is, telling her his favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, and she’s completely mesmerized by it.”

“So…? Good for him. He’s got game ‘cause she is wayyy better looking than he is,” Jared said honestly, as he always did. “She looks sorta familiar.”

“Really? Not from here she doesn’t,” Parker shook his head, dismissing Jared’s curiosity. “You think that’s okay though? He doesn’t even like her. I just think it’s just so fucked up that these guys will go to whatever length and say whatever they can.”

“What’s so fucked up about it man? We’re guys, and we’re horny,” as he finished his beer and slammed his glass down on the counter, in complete macho fashion.

“It’s fucked up ‘cause we get screwed over in the end. These girls, most of them, at some point start figuring out that most guys are sleazy. And from that moment forward, that’s their default—men are sleazy, which shouldn’t be the case, but it is because of douche bags like that,” Parker said, raising his voice and motioning across the bar, “who can only think with his penis. We get screwed over because now they can’t trust us since they assume we’re filth like the rest of them, wanting to get some ass.”

Jared looked at Parker for a second, raised his empty glass and suddenly his eyes widened looking at the girl. He appeared sober again. “Fuuuuuuuccckkk dude. Are you serious?” Jared rolled his eyes and turned his head away in irritation. “Of all the places, she had to be here. You’ve got to be fucking kidding!”

“What are you taaa…” just as the words left his tongue, she turned to face them, and then, sense and understanding came to him. Squinting his eyes, the image focused, and everything suddenly became clear. It was Angela.


“It’s a maternity ward in here,” Norah thought to herself, sitting in a booth with her 4 apartment mates. Her friends had come out to de-stress and unwind after a long week of classes, taking their anger at professors and assignments out on a cold pitcher of beer. Norah, on the other hand, was sipping on a cosmopolitan and on the prowl—the nice-girl-just-wanting-some-attention-and-male-affirmation prowl, not the promiscuous kind. From time-to-time, she’d turn away from the conversation toward the aisle and bat her eyelashes quite conspicuously attempting to draw any handsome admirers, like an echolocating dolphin emitting calls out into the vast ocean. But this ocean was filled with too many dolphins of the wrong breed for her to have any mating success.

Knock, knock—someone tapped on her shoulder. Norah turned around to see who, and there she saw what they classified in the olden days as a “hunk.” “I noticed you looking around. Are you waiting for anyone?”

“Oh…me?” she asked, feigning innocence as she pressed her hands against her chest. “Nope. I’m here with a few girl friends, but I’m very much on my own…if you catch my drift,” she said in her unnaturally seductive voice; she sounded like Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians. Though she hoped this didn’t come off as too forward, this guy was in no way off the hook yet. He possessed the looks—tall, broad shoulders like an Olympic swimmer, and she liked the way he styled his hair, like a traditional James Dean. Now, did he have the personality?

“Oh good!” he said with widened eyes. Norah smiled. “Because my friend over there…” What? “thinks your cute and would like to buy you a drink and take you home for the night…” Huh? “Would you like to meet him?” he looked at her as if he had simply asked her for the time.

Norah looked down at her black leggings, looking for any lint she could find to pick off. She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She shook her head and looked up at him, “Sure!” She followed him to a group of guys standing by the pool table in the back, all with one hand in their pocket and the other around a beer mug. They stood silent as she joined the circle. James Dean looked at Norah and then nodded to his friend with an eager grin—the go-ahead.

“By the way, my name is….” But before James Dean could even introduce himself and offer a handshake, she reached out and grabbed his crotch with a death grip and violently yanked his “private area.”

“You are a loser,” she said angrily as the other guys cringed in empathy and silently mouthed “ooooouuuuch.” They drew back out of fear when she turned around. “A real fucking douche bag.” Norah shook her head and rolled her eyes as she grabbed her coat and stormed out of the bar before her apartment mates could have a chance to inquire.


On his way home that night, Parker couldn’t help but think about Angela. He remembered the early morning pillow talk they used to have after making love and how she always asked to be kissed on the forehead before falling asleep. He remembered the night he lost his virginity to her. He had waited over a year to be sure that he loved her despite her pressuring him—she had already lost her virginity when she was in high school. They had come back to her dorm room after a night out with friends. “Do you want to do it tonight?” he endearingly asked. She nodded with a smile in affirmation—the adorable smile he wanted to take a picture of and keep in his wallet for instantaneous happiness. But her smile turned to a grimace after a few brief moments when he fell short of satisfying her. Unsatisfied, She ruthlessly guilted him for his lack of knowhow and experience. “I’m sorry,” he confessed. “I’ve literally never done this before.” He woke the next morning to her leaving to run errands; it wasn’t until hours later that he finally sat up and the ideal image he had of making love to the woman he loved was shattered by what actually was—reality.

When Parker arrived back at his apartment, he tossed his keys on the kitchen counter and peeled off the many layers of clothing he had on. In his wife beater and boxers, he brushed his teeth looking at himself in the stainless bathroom mirror. He judged the person he saw, looking for the confident, steadfast guy he once knew himself to be. On days when the past was completely behind him, he saw this version of himself. Tonight was not one of those days. Deciding that he needed to take his mind off of things, Parker opened his top drawer. Packed in with his socks and underwear, he took out his pipe and packed it with the last of his weed.

Smoking always put Parker at ease. After a stressful week of school, he would typically wind down with Jared, smoking and jamming on the guitar. Tonight, he simply needed a release. As he lit the pipe and slowly inhaled, the videotape of old memories stopped playing. The smoke was harsh, but the burn was liberating.


“Fucking shitheads!” Norah jammed her key into the rusty gold doorknob and kicked the door open. Her phone vibrated. She opened it to see a text from one of the girls: Hey, what happened? Frustrated, she ignored the message and slid the phone across the coffee table, grabbed a beer out of the fridge and toppled onto their la-z-boy. In a lash of anger, she grabbed her phone and starting furiously typing away: “It’s amazing that despite how low my expectations are for men, they continue to sink to new depths. How do they do it? Take tonight for example, all this douche bag had to do was simply be a gentlemen, a little engaging and he could’ve had a make-out buddy for the evening. Unbelievable.” Sent. Norah and her best friend from home had a habit of slandering the male gender on occasions guys sucked, which these days were pretty often. She wanted to forget this failed evening because she hated feeling disappointment, especially this kind—earnestly hoping for and expecting something and not have that thing ever happen. She felt the way she did in grade school on mornings after she had lost a tooth. Despite knowing better than to believe in enchanted fairy tales, she would check under her pillow anyway, secretly hoping for something magical.


After Parker had smoked two bowls, deciding to stop because he felt sufficiently impaired, he slipped into his bed and nuzzled into place, embedding himself in the grooves of his mattress. He realized that he didn’t want to be alone; with one hand in his underwear, Parker typed in “N-O-R-A-H” into his phone, and it started ringing.

“Hello?” said the voice at the other end. She wasn’t sleeping, he could tell.

“Hey Norah, it’s me. What are you up to right now?” he said, hoping she’d respond enthusiastically.

“I’m not really up to anything. It’s 2:45; I was about to go to sleep actually.”

“Well, I was wondering if you wanted come by and chill for a little. I’m in my pajamas so don’t think you have to look nice or anything. Just drop on by.”

“Are you taking me up on my offer, Parker?” she said; he could hear the corners of her mouth curling upwards.

“Maybe I am,” he admitted. “Do you want to come over? The door’s unlocked.”

“I’ll be over in 10. Don’t fall asleep on me, loser.”


Lying next to her, Parker didn’t know how to break the ice. He had invited her over, but it was she who tipped the first domino weeks earlier: “Parker, why is it that you are habitually single and NOT hooking up with anyone?” she had teased. “Is your game that bad or are you barking up a different tree?”

Parker chuckled. This wasn’t the first time their conversation had digressed to the topic of his love life. “For the record,” he said, “I am most definitely straight. I like women. The only problem is that they don’t seem to like me. Or maybe, I’m just not ready. Take your pick.”

“Well then tiger,” she said, jotting something on a scrap piece of paper, “Why don’t you give me a call when you decide you’re ready ‘cause it’s plain as day that you’re still not over your ex.”  She playfully winked at him and slipped the paper into his breast pocket. Parker laughed; he already had her number. He was surprised, however, when he pulled the note out during his next class (he had disregarded it until that point) and saw, “Free lovin’? (No strings attached)  You have my number, put it to use,” scribbled in cursive.


“So we both know why we’re here. I think we should just get this show on the road. That’s if you’re still comfortable with this,” Norah said.

“Yeah totally. Shall we?” as he started inching toward her. He didn’t know how her lips were going to feel on his or if they’d even have any chemistry, but he didn’t care.

Parker and Norah kissed for a few minutes. Somehow, Norah felt at ease with him, comfortable even. Even if this was just a booty call, she didn’t mind. Not with him, at least. Though she wondered why he decided to call her tonight of all evenings, she subconsciously wanted Parker to restore her faith in humanity once again. More than anything, she simply yearned to feel beautiful.

Still experiencing his high, Parker didn’t possess the filter most sober people have between what they are thinking and what they say, “So…how far can we go?” he asked.

“That’s quite forward of you, mister. I’ve never had a guy ask me that before…I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I just wanted to know. It’s better than having my hand slapped away and feeling vile about myself. I figure, we’re talking now, might as well just establish boundaries. Do you do this kind of thing often?”

She closed her eyes and smiled. She thought his inquiries were cute. “Umm…not often. I’m just over relationships at the moment, but a girl has needs, ya know? We can’t have sex, but why don’t we just go with it for now and see what happens?”

“That works for me,” he responded. He hadn’t slept with anyone since Angela, but he knew himself well enough to know that he would be tempted unless lines were drawn. In an effort to get her in the mood, he ran his hand through her hair and massaged her lips with his. He kissed the crest of her neck, a spot that was highly sensitive—this turned her on. She liked the way he placed his arms under her head and her shoulder, cradling her. In the heat of the moment on a few occasions, Parker tried unbuttoning her pants, but Norah wouldn’t have it. Feeling slightly bad for her conservatism, yet unwilling to budge on this one, she tried appeasing the situation by rolling on top of him playfully asserting her authority. This was a maneuver most guys she had been with liked; they liked her athletic figure, her curves and the width of her hips. Believe it or not, most guys didn’t mind submitting to a woman who could take the driver’s seat.


Parker’s phone rang. Sunlight streamed through the window onto his face and body. He felt slow, like a computer processing too much at once. He rolled off his bed out of the sun’s rays onto the cool floor and crawled to his obnoxious phone.

“Hello?” he said in his morning voice. Jared was at the other end.

“Yo man. Are you just getting up? It’s 2 pm. Let’s grab some grub.”

The thought of lunch hadn’t even crossed his mind, but Parker’s stomach began to growl and complain. “Sure. Gimme 20 minutes to wash up. I’ll meet you outside my place.” He hung up the phone and stood up. He stretched his arms and cracked his neck and his back as though he had stepped out of his coffin after years of death and needed to test whether he could still move his limbs. He slumped back in bed with his legs dangling off the side and his head on the pillow. With a deep inhale, Parker smelled a fragrance on his pillow that was not his own, and he immediately sobered up. “Fuck!”


“So what you’re telling me is that you’ve had this friends-with-benefits offer on the table this whole time, and last night was the first time you took her up on it. Are you loco?” Jared exclaimed in his classic Hollywood Mexican accent staring, both impressed and agitated.

“Fuck, man. What did I do? I don’t even like her. I came back last night after torturing myself with thoughts of Angela on my way home, smoked a little, and the next thing I knew, I wanted to have someone around…so I called her,” Parker said, picking up his giant bean burrito and taking a big bite.

“So you feel….guilty? Is that it?” Jared attempted to empathize. “You didn’t even have sex with her dude. Look here, my young padawan, she wanted you for one evening,” he paused for dramatic effect and placed his hand on Parker’s. Parker instantly withdrew his hand and laughed, shaking his head. “Who knows? She may want you for more. She doesn’t want you to be her boyfriend or her baby’s daddy. You two simply partook in an element of nature, the nature of college…hooking up. Plus, you were more than respectful…for Christ’s sakes, I can’t believe you tried to set the boundaries before the hook up even started. Who are you?” he joked.

“It feels strange not having to call her or being obliged to her in anyway. I had a great time; don’t get me wrong. We chatted, I told her my corny jokes and she laughed; it wasn’t just physical. You know I’m not the type of guy to do that.” For reasons that escaped him, Parker found himself wondering how early Norah must’ve snuck out to go home. The only traces she left were the scent on his pillow and earrings on his nightstand.

“You need to stop type-casting guys like that. Just because you hooked up with a girl that you don’t necessarily have feelings for doesn’t make you ‘one of those guys.’ It was just as much Norah’s choice to hook up with you, as it is any girl’s decision to go home with whatever asshole they’d like…only you were more forthcoming about your intentions. So please, do me and the rest of us a favor, and stop beating yourself up about it.” Parker thought about what Jared had said and most of it was true. The guilt subsided, and for the first time in a while, Parker felt childishly excited by the thought of a hassle-free relationship.

Without lifting his face, he looked at Jared and cracked a smile. “We are back in business, my friend!” Jared shouted putting his hand up for a high five. Parker couldn’t do anything but chuckle and five his friend in return.

At that moment, however, Norah walked through the door and caught Parker and Jared mid-slap. She instinctively knew exactly what they were celebrating. After all, it had only been minutes earlier that she and her friend were giggling and gossiping about the same thing in Starbucks. Parker spotted her in the periphery of his vision and quickly withdrew his hand from Jared’s. Standing in line, Norah laughed as he turned red. She watched him peak to see if she was still looking in his direction, and she smiled, accepting his immaturity—she was no better herself. She made a gesture to him, tugging her bare ear lobe. He patted his breast pocket and winked back at her.

[1] Cojones is a vulgar Spanish word for testicles.

[2] Jared practices utilitarianism.

Categories: Fiction Pieces Tags:

Haikus from the Heart

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

bad kids
kick him in the head,
he probably deserved it,
that little shithead.

Ladies, carry mace
creepy dude lurking,
staring at my ass and chest,
rape on local news.

your smile steals my gaze,
post-dinner, we laugh and joke,
got food in your teeth.

Sweet Perfume
her smell turns me on,
wait, did she just fart?

Butterfly Kisses
eyelashes on cheek
fluttering like eager wings
let’s kiss and fly far

Categories: Uncategorized

Toothbrush Advice — Fiction

August 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Another one left behind…

What do I do with this now? Can’t use it. That would just be gross.

It seems so wasteful though.

In my hand, I hold a toothbrush—7.5 inches long, turquoise and navy blue brandishing pearly white and assorted blue bristles. The owner:  a girl that I formerly dated. You see, she and I reached a point in our relationship about a month in, where she was sleeping over often enough that she kept a spare at my place to eliminate the hassle of lugging her most coveted one around all the time. I happened to have an extra one that my dentist gave me at my last visit. It’s a shame, really. A toothbrush’s lifespan is supposed last a few months at least. Though, I use mine until the bristles become discolored or too scraggly, which could be as long as a year or two.

Of all the things a girl can leave behind, a toothbrush is an odd, yet interestingly telling symbol of a relationship. It suggests that the relationship was somewhat intimate if she was sleeping over enough to have her own toothbrush. No guy is going to give a toothbrush to each girl that spends the night over and wants to brush her teeth in the morning before she leaves. An asshole would keep one toothbrush and re-package it every time he had a guest, passing it off as a new one and himself as a generous proponent of good dental hygiene. Therefore, if a companion offers you a toothbrush, take it as a sign that he/she wants you back. Warning: the giver must also be advised and aware that awarding someone a toothbrush is no small offering. Rather, believe it or not, it is a token of commitment. That, or he/she may just be bothered by the not-so-pleasant scent of your breath and wants you to brush your teeth before he/she has to kiss you; this is also highly possible. However, the toothbrush does represent a token of commitment because every time that person is brushing his/her teeth, you will more than likely be brushing yours. Unless you want to come off as a gross member of society who is a victim to plaque every visit to the dentist, it may be slightly embarrassing for your companion/girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other to know that you haven’t brushed your teeth before bed. So no matter how tired you are or no matter how much you want to be pressing your lips to theirs, when you hear him/her say, “Imma go brush up,” you best get your ass up and do the same.

Now, what this presents is quality time in the bathroom. It is an intimate time where you and the other person are becoming most bare (also known as “ugly”). You’re taking out your contacts and putting on your bottle cap glasses. You’re removing your make up and washing your face to expose all the undercover pimples you have masquerading on your face. You better brush longer than him/her or else he/she will think you aren’t unhygienic, like Mary Magdalene. Me, personally, I brush my tongue to get the bad breath off and hock a few balls of saliva to clear the nasty gunk in the back of my throat. So, like I said, this is a really revealing time for both people. You are shedding all your insecurities one layer of blush at a time. Then, you two look up in the mirror and you see exactly the person you thought you were attracted to, except (depending on how shallow you are) you may not find them as attractive as you did before entering el baño.

If you watch any old Nick-At-Nite sitcom with a married couple, and you will see them in the bathroom doing the same pre-bed routine they have been doing for the past 10 years of marriage. How many people in your life will really get a chance to see how you get ready to spend a third of your life (sleeping)? It’s kind of serious. If you brush teeth with me on more than a few occasions, you are kind of seeing into my soul. I’m half-serious about that. Any recipient of a toothbrush needs to know what they’re walking into, as well. After you brush your teeth, you leave it in a cup next to his/hers. It’ll sit leaning against its counterpart, exchanging saliva, bacteria and residual toothpaste until its next use. They are doing everything you and she are, just the inanimate way. That’s intimate shit right there, folks.

So what happens when the relationship ends? Depending on how the relationship ends, you can sometimes give the toothbrush to its user. Notice that I didn’t use the title “owner.” You never gave her the toothbrush so she could take it back to her place and use it in the comfort of her own home. You issued it to her on the terms that she would be utilizing it in the confines of your living quarters. Much like when a prison issues an inmate an orange jumpsuit—the inmate uses it, but he ain’t its owner.

Chances are that he/she already has one of his/her own, her toothbrush that she is accustomed to using. Giving her the toothbrush that I had lent her would just be a sour reminder of a relationship gone bad—not something I want to do. Expecting her to use it would be like asking her to use a slab of stone to scrape all the enamel off her teeth so she can one day forget what we shared. That’s if she’s like most people and wants to forget what’s done and gone.

But it has her germs and her bacteria on it; I have no use for it.

I could use it to not let it go to waste; after all, she and I have swapped those same germs and bacteria before. If I want her back, then I’ll keep it, hoping she’ll come back to me again. Then, when she needs a toothbrush, I can bust it out again and tell her that I believed we’d be together again. I’d win major brownie points for that.

Who am I kidding though? We’re not getting back together.

There’s really only one purpose that this toothbrush can now fulfill:  to clean the dirt and grime off my sneakers. It sounds cold, I know, but what better way to remember her than to envision her kissing my feet whenever I refine the white on my kicks. She did love those shoes.

Categories: Fiction Pieces Tags:

la familia


Wow. It’s been too long since I’ve written. Where to begin? I started a word document today because I knew I wanted to write something, and I could only come up with two topics. I came up with these:

  • When does one realize that they’ve changed
  • Family

I know those seem like pretty broad topics, but there is a sort of development in the birth of these ideas. Since I just finished watching a drama about a Korean family, I think it’s appropriate that I write a few thoughts about the latter topic.

So here it is…

Family – the Chris Yim hypothesis

When I think of family, I think of my family. I think of the essential pieces:  Mom, Dad and kids. Growing up, watching television, the way I saw a family was as a unit. You have the Flintstones, the Jetsons, that dinosaur family, the Brady Bunch, any Nick at Nite television show. I could go on forever. So I had engrained in my mind an idea that a family comes in a set, like golf clubs or plates. You don’t just have one or two items, but many; and since, we only had 2 kids (me and my younger brother Steve), the magic number for me has always been 4. However, growing up, going to college, hearing about other family situations and witnessing romantic relationships in college, I’ve come to realize that family is so much more than parents and kids. Your family is your history, and whether you are bound to them by blood, it has the capacity to alter and change so much. Instead of starting at where or how my idea of family changed, I think I can better explain it by expressing what my beliefs about family are now.

Family is the morphed form of a romantic relationship. Unless, you’re like Will & Grace and decide to have a baby without the romance. They have love, but they’re not a romantic couple. Yet, they do have a family. However, that is not a typical case of family.

I don’t even really think you have to have kids to have a family, but that’s getting too much into details. First, you have a relationship; and what I witnessed in college is that most relationships simply aren’t healthy. Well, I think that’s because most individuals don’t lead healthy lives/lifestyles. But who the hell am I to say such things? That’s just my expert opinion as a professional in the field of life.

And now, I realize why I never wrote on this topic before. It’s just too damn complicated.

So, you have a couple. And whether it’s because they don’t think they can find someone else, they feel stuck because they have already invested so much, they feel the pressure of getting old and needing to get married or some other reason, the couple gets married. Then, you have individuals who have not really sorted everything out either individually, in the context of a relationship or both, in a marriage. I say this because sometimes, I feel like people just don’t know what’s good for them, myself included. We get into relationships with people that aren’t good for us. We stick it out for one reason or another. Often people break up, get back together, break up and get back together again. As an outsider, I really don’t think relationships like that ever work. Unless, you can actually wipe the slate clean and really forgive and forget, there is just utterly too much history. But for some reason, people just are a glutton for punishment. Investment in a person is too hard to let go of and say “good-bye” to. Therefore, you have all these young or old married couples with all the problems that I feel as though should’ve been sorted out before the marriage.

Add kids to the equation, and now you’ve introduced just another layer of complexity to the already complicated and struggling relationship.

Actually, this entry is an ode (am I using that word correctly?) to people in unhealthy relationships. Get out of them. Don’t get married. Or else, you’ll have kids and then you’ll be the cause of them leading fucked up lives. But hey, if you’re fucked up as well, then you might be able to blame your parents, but don’t. Cuz that’s not their fault either. There is certainly a link, I believe, it’s not causal, between parents who have good relationships and their kids having healthy marriages. When you have parents who don’t get along or parents who constantly fight or don’t treat each other well, it has this tremendous impact on the way the kids see love, family, and it shapes so much about how they conduct their relationships. It’s like Good Will Hunting. How can Will ever trust Skylar if the people that he was suppose to count on and rely on the most let him down? No wonder Will is all messed up. Can you blame him? And I even know people who go through similar problems and issues. They have parents who have terrible relationships, and it’s like throwing a wrench into gears that are turning inside of a person. It breaks them down.

When God created Adam and Eve, he started the first family. I haven’t read the Bible enough to know what their family was like, but where did we get this model family image that we base so many American television shows off of? Are any families like the Brady Bunch or the Cunninghams (off of Happy Days)? Obviously not. But there are some that are close. There are people who have really solid relationships, where each person supports one another, where there is a measure of accountability, compassion and selflessness. I’m not even saying that these are all the good things that go into a relationship. Yes, these are qualities of a healthy relationship.

This is all too abstract. Let me introduce you to a family that I know all too well. The Perkins Family.

Here, you have Mom and Dad and their two daughters Cynthia and Stephanie. I am not too familiar with the relationship of Mom and Dad, but from what it seems, it looks pretty good. They work together. They spend a lot of time together now that both Cynthia and Stephanie have gone off to college. From what I hear, it took a long time for them to get there. When Cynthia and Stephanie were young, their parents fought a lot, threatening to get a divorce on numerous occasions. However, it never happened. Cynthia and Stephanie got support from their parents with whatever they wanted to do. They’ve been really fortunate and lucky to have had a fairly stable family and home life. I think one thing that Cynthia has told me though that she would change with her family is that she wants to have a family where the communication lanes are wide open. She felt as though that, at times, her parents felt suffocated with one another. Her Dad would come to her complaining about things her Mom would do, and vice versa. And rather than bringing these things to the table, each parent would harbor these things inside, let it fester and tell his or herself that this was just another thing that he/she would have to live with being a part of the family. But, doesn’t that suck? Cynthia, once in a family wide open discussion, told her parents that she’d rather them get a divorce and live happily separated rather than being forced to live together in a situation where they feel suffocated. I guess the situation or the suffocation was that serious because her parents didn’t get a divorce, but how would you feel if there were things about your partner that bothered you and instead of speaking up or saying something, you felt like you just had to bear it? It sucks.

I don’t know if I said anything meaningful, poignant or valid about family in this entire entry, but I will finish with what I think to be the most salient feelings I feel, which are in regard to family.

I imagine the person or thing that I love most. Or the person that I have cared for the most. When I think about those feelings and the strength of those feelings, I almost feel something physically stirring in me. They are strong feelings. And though I know and am aware of how strong these feelings are, I know that my feelings for my future wife and kids are going to be the strongest. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like when you watch a sports event or some movie where your feelings are stirring inside of you. The feelings are so compelling, so moving, and it’s not even something that really that pertinent to your life, but you feel like someone is gripping your insides and shaking it up. You feel the depth of your chest. Anyways, square those feelings or just even add 1. It’s stronger than all that. That’s how family makes me feel.

Video that shows, perhaps just a fraction, of how what that feeling for family looks like from the film Rocky Balboa (2:44 on):

another GREAT video from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (family is beautiful):  

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