I'm not entirely sure how to format my Asian mishaps into full stories, so I'm thinking a simple blog post may be my best bet. Maybe one day they'll find themselves in one of my books, but for now, let's just enjoy their simple, stupid punchlines.
I can't say for sure why I only have these language flubs with Asian people. I think maybe it has something to do with Asian languages being so far and removed from the English language. I hope that they don't come off as culturally insensitive, but who am I kidding? Sensitivity, in any of its forms has never been my go-to.
So first up. My sister was working in a bar in Chicago. It was an upscale nightclub, and served dinner downtown to a sundry of business-exec types. She worked alongside a real douche of douches, his name was Charlie. My sister is a talented artist, and a formidable crazy person, so she reacted poorly when Douchey Charlie came into a work wearing a homemade t-shirt that read: KILL ALL ARTISTS. The two had a brief and passionate argument. My sister left, fuming. The next day, she returned to work, wearing her own homemade t-shirt. It read: KILL ALL CHARLIES. Moments after unveiling her creation from under her leather jacket, she realized her first table of the night was an entirely Vietnamese Business group. Needles to say the KILL ALL CHARLIES shirt didn't go over so well. Asian mishap. Fucking bummer. Like, super fucking offensive bummer.
One night in my wilder teenage years, after partying hard at Nation, a club then frequented by underage ravers in South East D.C., a few friends and I found ourselves high in a 7-11. We gathered chewing gum and Newport 100s, Slurpees and sour candies galore. We were mostly on ecstacy or acid or both, and therefore felt fairly conversational. So what if it was 6 a.m. Let's make friends! My friend Mark, who is half British and--more importantly for this little bit--half Thai, noticed that the woman at the checkout counter looked similarly Asian. Now, I don't know how many Asian friends you have, ,but I had quite a few at the time. One thing I noticed about each of them was that they had a great response to meeting other Asian people who they thought might be the same kind of Asian they are. It was an interesting kind of social and racial solidarity. So when half-Thai Mark noticed some facial similarities between him and our check out lady, he asked, "Are you Thai? You look Thai." She made a sort of frowny face, and sighed, "Yeah, I am. But it's okay. I get off work soon." Oh, sorry girl. We didn't mean to call you out for looking haggard at 6 a.m. Asian mishaps. They...just...happen.
Finally, and this one is my favorite and also totally MY BAD, I was living in Chicago...Not much good came out of living there, seeing as it'd be an alright city if it weren't for the food, weather and the people. Still, I tried to make the best of my horrible time there, and that meant lots of visits to Chinatown. Chicago's Chinatown isn't anything exceptional, but there was one packed, tiny restaurant that just couldn't be beat. The name was not listed on the menu or marquee, but the long line leading out the front doors let everyone know that this was the place to be. Because the place was s packed, you were harshly encouraged to hurry up and eat, to make room for the customers standing in the freezing cold. My sister and I ate, each a full meal accompanied by bubble tea to die for. When our Asian waiter appeared at the end of our meal, I looked up to him and he and I simultaneously said the word, "Check?" When we did so, I laughed and said what I always say when that happens: "Jinx! You owe me a Coke!" The waiter looked at me with a furrowed brow and stormed off. I was confused. Why was he so offended? When he returned moments later, he slammed down an actual glass of Coca-Cola, and said "Here is your check and your Coke. You no call me a Chink again!" I never went back because that's the kind of Asian mishap even I can't bounce back from.
Have you ever had any Asian mishaps?!