Where are you from?

My friend and I had just stepped out of the cinema hall. It had been a perfect evening—a good movie, wind in the hair, popcorn—lots of it.

We’d watched Crazy Rich Asians, starring Constance Wu, my latest crush. She’s featured in Time’s 100 Most Influential. I forget which year. But, they say she waited tables for many, while auditioning for roles she never got.

“When Eddie Huang’s book was made into a TV show called Fresh Off the Boat, Constance got famous.” I fill my friend in with Hollywood trivia as we look for a taxi in the middle of the night.

“So, she really waited tables?” My friend asks, surprised.

“Yep, for eight years!” I reply.

“She’s a brilliant actor. Funny how no one could see that?”

(I think my friend feels bad for her. I don’t.)

“May be, because she’s Asian?” I try and answer his question. “But that’s not what she likes to tell herself. She’s a proud woman, who hates making excuses.”

I admire the choices Constance has made in her life. She is fierce. She speaks her mind. And even though she’s a big star, she chooses every role to shine light on people forced to live in the shadows.

I have watched her every interview. Perhaps, in the hope that some of her magic will rub off on me.

Fresh Off the Boat—is it?” My friend interrupts my reverie. He is new to the States, full of many questions. He doesn’t get what the expression means.

A pedestrian standing right behind us butts in.

“How was the film?” The eavesdropper is curious.
“Good. I enjoyed it.” I give him a funny look. “Was just telling my friend here what ‘fresh off the….” I am quiet for a moment.

I am trying to explain the word used for people like me to a person who could’ve prolly used it. I don’t want to point fingers at the stranger. The situation is a comic paradox. I cannot help but laugh.

“Just telling him what I am,” I say with a wink. Then I look at the stranger’s face, trying to figure out where he’s from.

Before I can gather my thoughts, he breaks into laughter.

There are reasons why I love New York City. This is one of them. Everyone here is from someplace else. We are a city of FOBs—and proud of it.



Beauty and the Beast

The dog park is a great equalizer. I know that now. I have a dog that I take to a park everyday. I’d say he’s a rather cute looking Goldador who manages to turn heads wherever we go. I won’t be lying when I say I treat him like arm candy, every time I step out.

Ravishing blondes and gorgeous men routinely stop to pet my dog. But he’s not always that lucky in the park. In the dog world, the fattest Corgi could charm the sexiest poodle. The laziest retriever could interest a dominating pug. The noisiest Yorkie could chat up a sober Shiba. The rules are a bit uncanny. So, my dog despite his adorable looks and athletic wit, is sometimes left bouncing in the periphery of a canine carnival.

Sometimes through my dog, I encounter emotions I’d never understand as a human. I’m sure, I’m not the only one. Like that other day when a beautiful young man was trying to socialize his dog at the park. He knew how to chat everyone up. His dog, not so much. It was a beefy Pit-bull. Deep brown eyes, broad shoulders and all—but then I have a soft spot for Pit-bulls. I wasn’t sure how others in the park felt. They kept their pooches at a wary distance.

The man in any social scenario would’ve been the center of everyone’s gaze. But here he was circling the group of dogs…umm…like a creep. May be his dog was too strange for the other fellows. Dare I say a little on the ugly side? Though relentless in his pursuit, his pit-bull faced constant rejection.

The man was clearly new to the experience of being left out. Good looking men with the gift of gab are rarely so awkward. He had no rehearsed lines to wiggle out of the situation. All he could do, was stand in the corner, pretending it didn’t hurt at all.