Alex Chen Goes To Lane Academy
Hey. My name's Alexander Chen. I got a story to tell.
Everything that you'll read on these pages happened to me, everything that you'll read on these pages are my words. This has been a long time coming, and I just want to say, that this story is mine and mine only. This story is my life.
Oh my god…that sounded so…completely, utterly…terrible.
I couldn't write a decent introduction if my balls depended on it. And I'm a terrible liar, I may be the one writing this drivel down, but this story isn't just mine. It belongs to a whole lot of other people, a whole bunch of folks I like to call my friends. You'll find out a little more about them later. Shout-outs aside, I guess I'll get right to the point and see where I go from there. Two years ago I was your typical Asian eighteen-year-old, I guess. You know the drill… Black hair, brown eyes, really big glasses. I don't think I was particularly bad looking—I was certainly around average, I suppose, but up to that point in time I had never paid much attention to my looks or clothes. Too busy studying for all those tests, writing all those papers, reading all those books, working my hardest to appease my academically-minded parents. I was a pretty thin guy, not particularly anorexic but definitely not buff, and everything I wore was either too big or too small for me—in fact, if you really want to know something completely embarrassing, a lot of my T-shirts and all of my sneakers were actually hand-me-downs that had belonged to my older sister. Because, well, as any Asian out there will tell you, an Asian family simply doesn't let clothes go to waste, even if the wearer has outgrown them.
Anyway, I was a true nerd. I was the gangly kid walking down the street with a pocket protector, a knapsack full of textbooks, oversized sneakers, and black hair that never seemed to stay down. I've learned that it's now the style for Asian kids to spike their hair up in all kinds of crazy positions. I never had to; my precious strands of hair shot up on their own in all directions like bean sprouts. If any of the other kids saw me, most of them would either jeer, since I was such a target, or stare, since I was so funny-looking. Those clothes! That hair! That aura of extreme nerdiness that permeated the air as I walked! And those glasses, those gigantic glasses! By the way, I think my lenses were always popping out, so I was forced to carry one of those tiny screwdrivers around with me all over the place. There is little else in the world more pathetic than having to screw your lenses back in while walking down the street, in public.
Thinking back, I have come to the sudden brilliant realization that the fact that I had such huge glasses was probably because I read so much as a little kid. My parents, you see, encouraged me to read at a very young age, and I liked nothing more than reading comic books after they had put me to bed. I looked at the pictures more than I actually read them, but either way, reading in the dark like that ruined my eyes when I was still very young. I got my massive glasses back in kindergarten, where the class bullies (nowadays I like to fondly refer to them as "assholes-in-training") used to say that the glasses really magnified my Chinky eyes. Y'know, now that I'm finally remembering all this, I've got to say—a bunch of kindergarten kids making racial slurs has to be a sure sign of the decline of youth in modern society, or something like that. Anyhow, for the longest time I actually took their insult as a compliment, thanks to my mom. While I was still in kindergarten, I remember asking her what "Chinky" meant, because it wasn't until the 3rd grade that I actually realized that I was Chinese. I remember her reaction perfectly. She leaned down on me, with wide open eyes that bulged out of her round face.
"Where you hear that word?" she asked in her extremely accented English, her naturally high-pitched and booming voice bouncing off the walls. A lot of people have the misconception that Asian women are quiet and petite. My mom's the exception to break that misconception. She had been petite once (when she was 18) but after the births of both my older sister and myself, had puffed up like a blowfish. She was 196 pounds and just a little over five feet and two inches. And if ever a quiet woman existed in the world, it certainly wasn't my mom. She was loud and outspoken—the type of woman that would openly walk up to the hired help in a supermarket and berate them in Chinese for putting the canned soup on the highest shelves, out of her reach. Actually I think she once smacked a poor guy who worked at the local Acme with a bunch of carrots for failing to understand her broken English. In other words, the phrase "Asian battle-axe" did not even begin to describe my dear mother.
"Some people in school called me that," I remember replying meekly.
"Aiyo!" she cried, opening her eyes even wider. She muttered something under her breath in fast Chinese I couldn't understand. I was never able to understand much Chinese, to be honest with you. Surprisingly, my parents had chosen not to send me to Chinese school, (there was apparently some sort of conflict between my father and mother on this one that I'm still not sure of) and my mom had done her best to teach me Chinese herself, at home. ("Can teach better than stupid Chinese school anyway," she had said.) I had learned enough to communicate, but not enough to understand her rich natural dialect.
"Is it a bad thing?" I asked her. I was young, but old enough to understand her body language. Whenever she talked in fast Chinese she was either cursing the faults of America in some form or another, thinking to herself out loud, or saying things about me to my father that she didn't want me to hear.
"No, absolutely no," she said promptly, bending to pat my hair down and rearrange my collar. "'Chinky' is very good compliment. When other school children call you Chinky, I want you to make big grin and walk with pride! Chinky just other way of children saying they are jealous of your good looks, your beautiful eyes with slant and your wonderful head of hair!"
In foresight I think my mom told me that beautiful lie so I wouldn't get upset that kids were making fun of me. I was a delicate child, you see. I think in the long run she actually did more damage than good, because the next day as the class bullies approached me to make fun of what my mother called "beautiful eyes with slant" I proudly faced them, made the biggest grin possible, and declared with the greatest pomp and pride I could muster, "I'm Chinky and proud of it! I know you're just jealous of my good looks, my beautiful eyes with…er…slant and my wonderful head of hair! Hah! You guys just want to be Chinky too!"
Apparently I pissed them off for that one and this one fatass kid hit me in the face, subsequently breaking the glasses covering my oh-so-Chinky eyes.
Ah, my childhood days. Life was so simple back then.