14 april 2000 | back | archive | forward | girl | sign | e-mail

i had been craving chinese food all day, so i drove to panda express, a couple blocks away from my apartment. and i know, i know that's not real chinese food, but i was craving that kind of chinese food. so. yeah. anyway.

i was tired, and cranky, and depressed, and hungry, very hungry, so everything behind the steaming glass looked yummy to me. i stood at the end of the line, tasting every dish with my eyes, for at least two minutes before i noticed the couple in front of me. they were filipino. i knew, because i'm filipino, and we have these radars that are never wrong.

they were casually dressed, kind of frumpy and short. at 5'5", i'm tall for a filipina, and i was wearing my two-inch chunky loafers, so i felt like king kong behind them. still, i didn't really think anything of it until i realized they were looking at me. like, pointing-whispering-and-staring looking at me.

what the hell are you supposed to do when you realize people are pointing and staring at you? i've never been big on the "whatchoo lookin' at?" approach, so i tried not to pay attention and just sort of stared off into space. i was feeling very self-conscious.

the man whispered something to her, started to chuckle, and then he turned to me.

"hi, honey," he said, in a thick filipino accent. i thought he was going to do the thing most filipinos do when they find another, which is introduce themselves, find out where you live now, where you're from in the philippines, and then see if you know anybody they know. this usually results in a lot of shrieking and laughing and the ultimate realization that somehow you're related. it's such a small, incestuous world, after all.

"hi," i said back.

and then he turned to her, laughed some more and started speaking to her in tagalog.

i tried to lean in, to hear what it was they were saying, about me. the only thing i could make out was a phrase that can be translated to, "isn't she embarrassed?" or "doesn't she get ashamed?" it's tough to know without proper context, and i was not doing a great job of eavesdropping.

embarrassed? ashamed? i wondered. what could be wrong with me? i got a bit flushed and panicked. as nonchalantly as possible, i tried to check my blouse to make sure it was buttoned and my fly to make sure it was up. they were. then i ran my fingers through my hair to see if it was sticking out or if anything was in it. nothing was. so i just stood there, on my two-inch chunky loafers, shoulders out, tummy in, practicing my aloof, far-off stare.

outside, i was a calm, composed young lady who would just like some tofu with string beans, an eggroll and chow mein, please, thank you. but inside, i was confused, and hurt, and bitter. not only were they talking about me, but they were talking about me right in front of my face, in my native tongue, which i do understand thankyouverymuch -- because i was dressed nicely? because my hair had dark red streaks? because i was wearing funky shoes or vintage glasses, both of which my mom constantly pokes fun? because i spoke crystal clear, perfect, american english? i don't know, i just don't know.

i haven't felt like that since i was growing up, when i'd be sitting with my cousins-who-aren't-really-related and they'd laugh at me and tell me how white-washed i was, because they grew up in predominantly filipino communities, you see, and they didn't like R.E.M. or wear vans or cut their hair into bobs or have blonde best friends, like i did. i didn't understand it then and i don't understand it now, because i am a believer of tolerance and acceptance and understanding, especially when you have something in common like home.

all i know is i hated feeling like that. like a laughing stock. like a traitor to my race. like i was standing on the other side of some invisible line.

because i just don't see it that way. i was ready to play the "it's such a small world" game, but in their eyes the world was not so small at all.

i'm so close to pigtails -- just in time for springtime!

i'm just...sad. for no reason, really. or maybe a lot of reasons. or maybe it's PMS.

according to the marriage crystal ball i am getting married on august 25, 2002. if that happens, you are all invited to my wedding. ha!

"i'm feeling mostly okay, but not perfect."

i only ate half of my two-item combo, so i'll eat the rest for dinner.