© 2016 by Kate Bartel. Created with Wix.com

Not That Asian (Or, There Are More Blissful Things Than Ignorance)

so it goes like this right—

i’m Asian in America and i walk into a bar

i’m racially ambiguous because they said so

i know my pussy’s tight because they said so

i should know more about where i’m from

(no, where i’m really from)

because it’s the first thing they’ll ask 

 

i forget about my septum ring for a minute

i forget about my bleached hair

i forget about the pieces of me i have chosen

 

some guy sees my ANGRY ASIAN GIRLS shirt,

says, i can deal with angry, but can’t deal with an accent.

 

for all intents and purposes

and because the rule applies in Boston

more often than it doesn’t,

this guy’s name is michael.

not sean.

rarely ben.

never mike.

 

michael tells me i’m a special kind of beautiful

he sometimes uses the word exotic in his pick up line

but not always

 

michael works as a freelance stylist.

michael is interested in photographing me.

michael is trying to get noticed by i-D.

i can’t tell if he’s into me because i’m Asian

or because i’m Not That Asian

but either way

it makes me feel like shit

 

michael talks about traveling

and never stops talking about himself.

but i still let him put his hand on my knee

because habit

is a funny, learned thing.

 

michael has kissed me hundreds of times.

he kissed my mother in 1981 on spring break at uc irvine

and my grandmother during the war.

he kissed them real hard.

he held them down.

he praised them exotic

and they always smiled

almost as though

they already 

knew the script.