Friday, July 15, 2011

Why I'm going to marry a half-Asian

I realized I'm going to marry a half-Asian. There's absolutely no doubt about it.

I grew up in a city that was 50% Asian-American. In middle school, I cruised through puberty crushing on Asian girls; at home, I imbibed the white standard of beauty through TV. (Heck, wasn't Misty from Pokemon white?) Through the years, I've slowly started to develop an attraction to all types of faces, whatever the skin tone. But two things.

First, Asian faces are the only ones that make me infatuated; a white face can be attractive, but it won't grip my tender heart with equal force. More importantly, I tend to fall in love with cute Asian faces that my non-Asian friends look at and think, "Meh." Whereas I don't even notice average-looking white faces on the street.

After schooling myself at Yale living in New York for two months, I've shed my resistance, somewhat, to white faces. Part of it is personality: Caucasians, from what I've discovered while street fundraising, are easier to make random conversation with. They also exist in higher quantities, so there's an availability bias. The confluence of these factors have led certain infelicitous to invade my thought space, and now, for split seconds, I think, "Could I be crushing on this white girl?.....Nahhhhh."

Which brings me to the half-Asian. Does that make sense?

The reason why I bring this all up is because at 6:10 p.m. today, I stopped someone on the street because of my fundraising job. Now, at this point, 6 hours into the day, I still hadn't saved one child from extreme poverty. So I was getting a little antsy, a little desperate. She had her earbuds in and was coasting along the side of the building. I approached her and said, -- (If you're wondering right now, "Why do you always approach women?" it's because that's just how fundraising works. Girl fundraisers sign up guys. Guys sign up girls. That's true 80% of the time.) -- "Hi! How are you?"

"Oh, hi."
"Honestly, I wanted to talk to you because I thought you were adorable."
"<cute laugh> Thanks!"
"What's your name? I'm Peter."

I walked with her for 4 blocks. We talked about the charity I work for. She guessed what ethnicity I was. I made fun of her for not being able to tell Asian faces apart. She told me she grew up in North Carolina as the only Asian. That her parents met in Korea. That she was half-Korean. (This is fate. I know it is. Stop everything now.) I told her I was here to be her personal secretary to turn thought into action. At the end, when we stopped on her block, she told me she had graduated 2 years ago and was working at a marketing firm. And that the cupcakes she was holding cost $18. And that she was celebrating a friend getting a job tonight. When she shook my hand and said bye, I realized I loved her. Jaykayyy. Seriously though, after she walked away, I couldn't stop thinking about her. (And still can't?)

There were a couple of reasons. First, she was from North Carolina. Her slight twang was like...was like, a drop of honey on an already ripe slice of cantaloupe. (Yup, I just went there.) Second, she laughed at all my jokes. Third, and perhaps most importantly, especially in these brief street interactions, she had the most adorable, pretty, gorgeous face I have ever seen.

That's the appeal to a half-Asian face. It has the ability to be, simultaneously, pretty, cute, and seductive. Our brains don't quite know how to process the mix of features. The eyes are small, but big enough. The cheekbones slender, but strong enough. The forehead compact, but expansive enough. On the street, I told my future-wife-to-be that she looked really white. She laughed and told me that in school, everyone made fun of her for being the only Asian. Therein lies the playful deception: being half-Asian makes you multifaceted. You're different things to different people; heck, you're different to the same person. A ponytail and running shorts; a tight dress; a business suit -- that's three looks, accentuated by different features. A straight up Asian or white girl doesn't have this shape-shifting ability.

When Obama was elected, I read a great piece in the New York Times about his marriage. He said he loved that he could never quite figure Michelle out. He would always discover something new; a different angle with which to understand her. I was struck by the thought that a marriage was an evolution between two personalities and not a static "I know everything about you" equilibrium.

I thought it applied to personalities only, but the same is true for physical traits. We spend a lifetime looking at and observing our significant others. With a half-Asian, there are more angles to view. (You can make the argument about personality too. Growing up in a multiracial household adds a dimension to your thoughts on identity.)

So that's my argument on why I'm going to marry a half-Asian. This girl on the street galvanized the thoughts sitting on the dusty bookshelves of my brain. And, plus, it's made me remember that my first girlfriend ever was half-Asian. Ladies, I'm taking applications now. (Gosh, does that sound like a John Song line or what?)


  1. Peter I just found your blog! Skimming through it almost makes me feel like I'm having a convo with you. If you ever come back to the bay I want to hear you play guitar, please.

    In regards to this subject, I understand that people, including myself, have types of people we like. Through my limited experience though, sometimes the people we are attracted to aren't so attracted to us. I hope it works out for you though. I'm kind of tempted to comment on ALL of your posts but it might take me a while

  2. Hmm so I just decided to read some of your blog and I am actually totally hooked. You are a veryy engaging writer..I guess it stems from how you talk in real life. Keep writing! I look forward to reading about your adventures :)

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