Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Multicultural class essay draft intro

I have an essay due in mid-October and I started writing it just now. I was playing a game with inserting as much sexual tension as I could without it being vulgar or obvious, but I'm pretty amateurish. Anyway, I thought I'd memorialize it here. BTW, this is a true story.
“Where are you from?” The pretty Italian girl has just handed me my pistachio and stracciatella gelato. In an instant, years of experience in America’s “melting pot” flash before me. In her blithe innocence, she has no idea what she has wrought. We are in Italy’s lake country, far from the international tourist areas like Rome and Venice. In those places, the address would have been “arigato.” But here, in a Continental vacation spot, this girl probably doesn’t see many Asians.

I consider giving her the answer she wants; it would be so easy! But something in my id refuses to be labeled so easily. “I’m from California,” I defiantly say, as if it were a lie. Consternation furrows auburn eyebrows as she struggles with her English vocabulary. Now I feel intense regret at having despoiled her beatific countenance for my own pride. “What you really mean is, ‘what is my ethnicity’?” – relief and an eager nod. “I’m Chinese,” I concede as any vestige of principle deflates. Now her confusion fades and I can sense her take my existence and place it neatly in a China box. I feel shame at having taken the easy path, but what right do I have to torture her well-meaning curiosity into a trip to the internment camps and ghettos of America? All I wanted was a gelato, and now between the oppressive August heat and acute awareness of my “other”-ness, the confection seems a little wilted.