A woman, somewhere in her 60s, with a very warm and inviting face approached me not that long ago. Her copper colored hair fell into a tight layered bob, not in the same finesse of Michelle Obama’s, but in a way which had been frozen by a 20-year-old time capsule, never to change again.
Her glasses rested pointedly and purposefully on her narrow nose as she came closer, and closer. [TOO CLOSE.]
“Where are you from?” she asked.
Whenever I am asked this question, four to five times a week, I gingerly respond, “The East side of the state (Michigan).”
“No, where are you frommmm?” She asked, pushing her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose.
“Near Flint.” I generally try and do-si-do this question out until they break and realize how obtrusive they are being. [NO ONE EVER REALIZES!]
“No, I mean, WHAT IS YOUR ETH-NIII-CITY?”
“I am Korean.” I uttered defeatedly.
“Ohhh okay…” she emphasized the “oh” as if she was processing something. Something that was going to make me uncomfortable.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked.
“Yesssss.” I answered with hesitation, the hesitation of wondering why she:
A. Cared whether or not I “have” a boyfriend.
B. Assumed I like men. (Answer: This is West Michigan. Everyone is straight in West Michigan. [I am kidding.])
C. (I’ve always wished I was Alex Mack, from The Secret World of Alex Mack, so I could turn into a GC-161 liquid puddle and slip away from encounters like this.)
She looked disappointed. “Ohhhh…. I have a son you know…” Her eyes fluttered upwards at an attempt to make eye contact. This was going to be more uncomfortable than I had originally planned.
I knew what she was doing. She had sensed the hesitation in my answer, which, in her mind, permitted her to continue. Was my relationship crumbling apart at that time? Yes. But my hesitation had nothing to with that, and only to do with A. B. and C.
“Ohhhh. Okay.” Because there was nothing else I could have said.
“He is Chinese….”
[Still not interested.]
“Yeah, he lives in Arizona. He works in computer arts, but I tell him to find something else all of the time, because there’s no money in that… You know, he is 40 years old.” A look of concern and desperation loomed across her face.
[Oh God. She wants grandchildren.] Her look said it all. I only took one Psychology class, but I didn’t even need that to interpret the disparity in her face. Why else would she try to lure a near stranger to her son? I could be crazy… [I wouldn’t know because I only took one Psychology class.] Her identity as a mother of a single, adoptive Chinese son, living in Arizona had kicked in. He is by no means old, but to a conservative, former professor at Calvin College, the possibility of her having grandchildren was passing her by. She too longed to dazzle her bare refrigerator with school pictures, drawings, and family Christmas cards.
How mortified would your son be if he knew his mother was prostituting him on the streets of Grand Rapids, Mich.? [and not very well for that matter!] (She probably could have picked a better location…) Or worse, he was completely fine with it, which raises more suspicions, thus the reason he needed his mom to play matchmaker states and states away.
I am not a love columnist, nor have I ever watched an entire episode of Sex and the City, but I do know, just because two people are what society views as the same “race,” (Biology 101 told me that race is a social construction) does not mean they are compatible in other ways. Particularly when one person lives in Arizona and the other person lives in Michigan.
Just because the two of us were adopted from different Asian countries, doesn’t mean the arranged marriage part of historical Asian culture is genetically running through our blood.
OR IS IT? SIDENOTE:
My dad had an interesting encounter with a Korean customer who owns a dry cleaning business. [Could not have made that up.] Being a proud parent, and overly talkative man, my father told him all about his Korean adopted daughters, told him our ages, even showed him pictures of us…. This customer made my father come into his dry cleaning business to meet his wife, and show my dad a picture of his son. This man wanted my dad to bring my sister (apparently my picture wasn’t good enough…) to the Korean church to meet him. He was sick of seeing his son, the soon to be Doctor, date these “American girls.” To further butter up the deal, a friend of theirs, from Korean church, owns a franchise of fried chicken stores, and my sister could “probably” manage one while her soon to be Korean husband finished medical school. Who needs a Master’s degree when that opportunity falls into your lap?
Luckily my dad is not his dad, or this man’s mother.
I wonder how many women she told about her son, the supposedly lonely, 40-year-old, computer arts guy, who just so happens to be Chinese. Why did she choose me? Me, someone who, like her son, has different-looking eyes. What do you think she thought we had in common? We could talk about how we are not quite the same ethnicity, but how I might as well be Chinese, since certain types of Americans have never heard of other Asian countries. Or, how his mother makes us feel incredibly uncomfortable.
I took a shot in the dark and guessed that this mystery
boy man, was not my soulmate. I am recently single; does OKCupid work? BECAUSE THERE IS NO SUCH THING!