I matched another Asian girl on Tinder today. She didn’t have a bio and her pictures were out of focus. I sent her the line with the bee emoji. She didn’t respond.
There’s nothing I can do. Since the latter part of elementary school I have been surrounded by them. Befriended them. Learned their ways. Fought with them. Slept with them. Had I become one of them?
My best friend in school was Asian. The first girl I kissed was Asian. The first girl I slept with was Asian. All my roommates in college were Asian. All my friends in college were Asian. Had I become one of them?
I didn’t seek them out. They found me. We understood each other. We were outsiders, we didn’t fit in. There was a language or at least a cultural barrier for them. I didn’t have that excuse. Or maybe I did. You can be born in America but develop traits completely at odds with America. I am a mutation, an aberration, an anomaly. Had I not become one of them?
I am a spaceman sent to my own planet. I am the Last Man. Nobody recognizes me. Nobody understands the language I speak. They stare back at me with black, hollow bug eyes. Was it something I said? They ramble on. Something about their dog. The grotesque, menopausal hag cries out with laughter at her own joke as terrified blood flees your penis. Unmarried women of that age always have stalkers. They’ll tell you. They waited too long to settle down or they were a massive bitch to their ex-husband: alone regardless.
The mind on social alienation does strange things. You imagine social interactions. You’ll be walking to your car and suddenly you’re married with kids to the cashier girl from Whole Foods. You’ll received a text from a girl from college one night and suddenly you’re back together and you’re on an island in the Caribbean being served margaritas by some mulatto kid with sickle cell.
Elaborate, violent battles with your enemies will play out in your head. Preparing dinner turns into a visceral knife fight with that one guy from high school you still hate for some reason. You drive your paring knife into his carotid artery when he’s not paying attention, when he’s singing along to the latest Top 40 hit because he’s an utter waste of oxygen. The only good thing I’ll say about EDM is at least the people who listen to it can’t sing along.
I have had sex with every woman who has ever spoken to me. Even the ones I didn’t like. I have killed every man I’ve ever met. Even the ones I liked. American daydreams stop at sex and violence. We don’t get fancy. We have dreams for that, and for everything else there’s MasterCard. I’ve always found it bizarre that dreams often occur in third person. We never see ourselves in third person except in the mirror and the mirror tells lies. But go to sleep and take enough melatonin and all of a sudden you’re watching yourself jump around like Mario on the Nintendo 64.
I blame video games. I blame video games for everything. Fox News was right. Video games fuck kids up. Video games make kids autistic. I don’t even know what games are out now, but there was a time not too long ago when my finger was on the pulse of the video game industry. That was my one hobby. Everything else paled in comparison. My parents tried to get me into sports as a kid, but I was downright terrible. Even my grandparents gave up on me. Maybe sports aren’t for you. Maybe school will be your thing. Thanks a lot.
I got good grades through the eighth grade then the malaise started to creep up on me. I was madly in love with a girl at the time. I never spoke to her. I wasn’t even sure if she knew my name. Her friends eventually caught on and brought it up one day. Some fat, loudmouthed girl approached me. You like her, don’t you? No, I don’t. I worked up my courage for six months and asked her to sign my yearbook. I still have her signature, an epitaph on the mausoleum of my hope and desire.
I took refuge among Asians in college. They didn’t have any expectations of me, just as I didn’t have any expectations of them. Anything I did that was odd or out of the ordinary was because I was white. Not because I lacked the fundamental social skills everyone had seemed to acquire when I wasn’t paying attention. We were natural allies. For a time, I liked them more than my own people. They were smart, quiet, polite: what wasn’t there to like?
Naturally, these assumptions would be challenged and my generalizations would be laid to rest. Something changed around 2012 or 2013. Maybe the world had ended like the Mayans predicted. Asians didn’t need me anymore. They had their own groups now complete with milk tea and all you can eat barbeques. While I would often join them in their world, it was clear that it was just me who had remained an outsider in my own. My college years ended and I found myself crawling back to white people begging to be let back in the club.
We’re utterly divorced from our cultural roots. How many ethnic Germans in America speak German? How many ethnic Italians in America speak Italian? There was a time when I was jealous of the FOB: his culture, his language, his sense of community. Not just that, but his luxury—unknown to him—of being a socially acceptable outsider in the United States.
I went drinking with a Korean businessman around this time last month. He had grown up in Canada, didn’t speak English at the time, and hadn’t made a single friend during school. I bought him some drinks and we talked the entire night. He told me all about Korea and I told him all about the United States. He told me I was his first American friend.