THE GOY LUCK CLUB
he following admission will sound like I've really missed the boat as an Asian American with any real live hormones. And maybe I have, and maybe they're dead (the hormones). But this is the truth: I have never seriously dated an Asian American woman. I've never even dated an Asian American woman non-seriously. I just haven't done it. Perhaps my tastes may change, especially after considering the glamour shots on GoldSea. But the fact is, I've never considered an Asian woman for a mate (or deckhand, for that matter). White men have the Connie Chung fantasy. And that's okay. Make mine Heather Locklear.
In my own personal book of love, I've had Oy Luck (Jewish American girlfriends). I've had Goy Luck (non-Jewish American girlfriends). Fortunately, no Boy Luck (I'm hopelessly straight). And perhaps somewhat regrettably, no Joy Luck.
The woman I married is white, and from the Midwest. At least it's soy country. She is slightly taller than me, but that's no remarkable accomplishment. What we do is complement each other. And I'd like to think we represent the new America. We've already begun watering down the other's race.
The idea of my personal love census of the last 20 years was not intended to start some new affirmative-action program for which I would be eligible. In fact, it wouldn't have occurred to me except that in a mixed-race situation today, the concept of an Asian male with a white woman still gets stares. From everyone. Now an Asian female with a white male, that's just fine. Just check out the New York Times Sunday marriage section to see all the successful passages of the Li-Carters and the Wong-Goldbergs. Asian women must love those hyphens. And then there's the well-documented crisis of Maury's sperm and Connie's eggs.
But Asian men and white women aren't an item. They're an oddity. It's not exactly Ripley's Believe It or Not, but the Asian male image of "good with numbers, bad with cars" is not one that promotes love crossover. How many people have seen The Lover, or the complete set of Bruce Lee movies? I imagine when people see my wife with an Asian man, they say, "Maybe he does her taxes."
Now I don't mind the looks at suburban malls so much. It's the reaction from other Asians. For instance, a Filipino woman I know once asked me in the presence of my wife why I didn't marry a Filipina. Or a Chinese. Or someone Asian. Someone in the Rice Culture. I had no good answer. I still don't know. Maybe I couldn't find any order blanks?
But by asking me the question, "Why not Asian?" my friend was implying that somehow I had some problem. Was it a matter of my self-hate? Shame of my Asian-ness? Was there a kind of despicable self-loathing on my part? Well, no. Nor was it the case of the successful Asian seeking tall trophy gal. I'm innocent. It wasn't my fault. And it wasn't the Asian female population's fault either. When confronted by Asian women, usually it came down to a pretty basic thing: They weren't attracted to me and I wasn't attracted to them.
Hey, it's hard enough to find a decent mah-jongg partner these days let alone a partner for life. But there's still an assumption by many that we should all be paired up by ancestry, as if there is some natural alliance, no? No.
As I said, it usually was a mutual feeling. I can't speak for my rejectors, but I've wondered how our background of Asian sexual images contributed to our encounters. Frankly, I never saw them as concubines with bound feet. Or as silk-draped love objects. Not initially at least. But I wonder what was their subtext of Asian maleness? Hop Sing, admittedly sounds livelier than "dead-in-bed", but how did they see me so well that they could reject me out of hand? Was it a media image from their family? A silent, stone-faced technocrat nerd? Or daddy slurping noodles from a raised bowl? Are we victims of culture beyond the assumptions that come from coy glances. This is a case of mind over glands.
Perhaps more to the point was the degree to which she was either Americanized or still under the spell of the Old World family notion. You know, "Dynasty gal." One would think that the more Americanized the woman, the greater the likelihood of attraction. Oddly enough, I've found the opposite to be true. It's not biology, it's physics. Like forces repel.
We see each other as pushy and aggressive. We know we're able to compete in the white world of success. No one walks five steps behind anyone. So when our eyes meet, we compete with each other. We don't give each other a chance. And why bother? Do we really want to propogate from whence we came?
Maybe this is too cynical an assessment. But I don't think so. I know we all want to believe in serendipity. to paraphrase a common bumper sticker, "Love happens."
As my parting shot on this topic, I leave you with an anecdote.
I was at Harvard attending a legendary Wellesley mixer. This is where I was supposed to find the perfect mate for my impending yuppiehood. But there was no buzz in the air. No one would dance with me. I asked. I prospected. I cold-called. Now I am not ordinarily a wallflower, but these folks made me feel like a bean sprout.
Ah, but then I saw her. I lovely Asian lass. Filipino. No, perhaps a mix. Perhaps some Chinese. She would be my ace in the hole. I would get a slow one off of her. And how could she reject my offer, the potential of love mixed with an unabashed appeal to Asian pride. Sister, come dance! This was as American as Hollywood's "cute meet". But it was Asian too. It wasn't an arranged marriage. It was as Asian as fate.
So I asked her. And, as if on cue, she said, "No, thanks."
She was looking for Biff. I went looking for Muffy.