A few months ago, I was travelling through the life phase known as ‘The Flood’, or what my brother’s male friends like to refer to as, ‘The Golden Knob’. The Golden Knob denotes the period in a man’s life when he manages to bed any woman he desires. But the difference between The Golden Knob and The Flood is that men are attracting women they want to sleep with or at least date. When it comes to The Flood — so named by my older sister, the original flood victim — women are attracting men in whom they have no interest.
For me, the floodwaters began rising around the same time I attended my friend’s 21st birthday, after which I arrived home and texted my sister eight words I never thought I’d say: “I made out with a trucker last night.” My sister responded accordingly with: “What. The. FUCK.” Followed by a hasty: “THE FLOODS! PREPARE THE SANDBAGS!” Enjoy the following timeline, which details my romantic liaisons leading up to this point.
A SINGLE ASIAN FEMALE’S EXPERIENCE WITH MEN (1990—2011)
Schoolyard crush (1999—2003)
His name was James* and the crush lasted for four years. James had mousy hair and a pointy face, and an air of shyness crossed with nonchalance that I found appealing. I don’t know how the crush began, but within its first year, James and I’s future together was cemented firmly in my mind. The greatest dream I had during my adolescence involved us waltzing in a dark, empty ballroom with freshly waxed floorboards. James was lifting me high above him in an emerald evening gown, grasping me firmly by the waist and revolving slowly as Debussy’s Clair de Lune rose to a crescendo. At our wedding, I imagined him in a blinding white suit, waiting patiently for me to walk down the aisle while his mother flattened his hair with a palm full of spit. I’d crafted our future together so carefully that when an opportunity came for its fruition I was barely surprised.
It happened at the beach in grade six. The entire cohort was on an excursion searching for barnacles to sketch into their biology notebooks. It wasn’t long before we’d all given up and taken to digging our toes into the sand and generally savouring the freedom of being off campus. I was standing by some rock pools watching the tide recede and thinking how unpleasant it would be to drown at sea when James’ best friend David* approached me.
“Do you like James?” he asked.
By that stage I was still immersed in the memory of my older sister and I being pulled out into the ocean on our body boards at ages seven and eleven, and didn’t respond. He took my silence as an affirmative response and announced my love to the entire grade as he jogged back to James along the shoreline. Moments later, David returned and asked whether or not I’d date James. I said yes. That afternoon, I strolled along the wet sand feeling the kind of indestructibility and brute strength experienced by mothers who lift Pajeros off their critically injured children.
Back at school, I wrote the day’s events on a piece of paper and handed it to my sister, who was listening to music on her walkman as we waited to be picked up. I couldn’t speak because saying the words aloud might make my wish come undone. Or more likely, my sister was refusing to speak to me because all that afternoon I’d been trying to prove to her that I could chew and swallow clumps of hair without gagging. My sister read the note I’d handed her and stared at me hard.
“Are you sure?” she said.
I stared back. Was I sure?
“I mean — ” She took her headphones out and looked at me sadly, but firmly. “Are you sure he really asked you out?”
At school the next day I approached James who confirmed that yes, it was a joke, and if that was that, he was going to go play rugby with his friends now. And then I decided not to attend school for the rest of the year due to social anxiety. Though, to be fair, my anxiety had less to do with romantic rejection and more to do with dreading PE classes after being fished out of the school pool with a broom handle after I’d almost drowned. Twice.
*Not their real names. Because there is the real possibility that peers from high school may be reading this and wondering why anyone on this godforsaken earth would fantasise about a wedding where the groom is clad in white.
Daniel Radcliffe (2003 – 2005)
He was the tangible representation of Harry Potter and received bass lessons from Gary Oldman in-between takes. Later, a picture was leaked on the internet of him posing naked in front of a horse. Need I say more.
MSN romance (2005)
A gamer that grew bored of me when I offered him nothing but a mix tape and a MySpace display picture to fuel his fiery loins. Our relationship started online and ended online — a romance typical of the early ‘00s.
The one and only time I broke my mum’s number one house rule (that of forced incarceration due to her intense fear of her daughters being kidnapped) was during a visit to the keyboardist’s house.
He was a friend of my friend’s boyfriend who lived nearby and played keyboard in a metal band. We flirted online, and from this flirtation I learnt that he shared my love of comics and Big W. This flirtation went on for some months until I cracked and decided to visit him in person. I dusted off the bike I was only permitted to ride in circles around the backyard and rode the few kilometers to his house. I felt good about myself that day: I was wearing my contact lenses, and a new grey t-shirt I’d bought from Jay Jays.
When I arrived, he was topless and embarrassed, and entirely confused by my presence. He asked if my mother knew where I was and when I shook my head he shook his too, like a father disappointed in his shoplifting child and his own poor parenting. Out of want for something to do, he gave me a tour of his house: the empty aquarium he was planning to sell; the fridge upon which he and his brother’s school photos were tacked; the living room, where I met his father and praised the oriental tattoos on his calves before hopping on my flat-tyred bike and riding home.
College boyfriend (2008)
I decided to be proactive in college. To ask after others. To hunt. My prey was a quiet boy who lived upstairs in the same block. He struck me as a very reserved and well-read person, and I managed to strike up a conversation with him on the bus ride back from a college trip to Wet ‘n’ Wild. From there came the Doctor Who marathons and blackcurrant lozenge flavoured kisses. He liked The Lion King, TIME magazine, Enya, and cricket. That’s all I knew about him besides the fact he was as antisocial as me and didn’t appreciate it when other housies used his crockery. I didn’t know much about him, but I knew that he was kind. Some nights I’d hear a knock on my door and when I answered, I’d find a Cornetto on my doorstep bought from college shop. Or I’d arrive at my dorm after a long day at uni to find a he’d drawn a sweet picture on my door. I ended things after a month because we were very different people. He was upset, but I was relieved knowing that he would be better off with someone who was more invested in him and his kindness than the idea of a relationship.
Uncouth remarks from men who are curious about what it’s like to sleep with an Asian woman (2008 – )
First Love (2008 – 2011)
From Helen Garner’s essay, ‘Tower Diary’.
To Bondi for a walk before breakfast. Charcoal clouds, a harsh silver streak along the horizon. Two old women pace towards me on the promenade, talking hard.
‘Anyway,’ says one, ‘she remarried.’
‘Oh!’ gasps the other. ‘I thought you were going to say she died!’
The loneliness of never being free to wallow with either of my first two husbands in the memories of our marriages, of our years together. I have to carry these memories on my own, as, presumably, does each of them. Couldn’t there be a room somewhere, where ex-couples might briefly meet from time to time, just to sit at a table and laugh together, or cry — to tell the small stories and the big, to remind each other of things they learnt together — without anyone’s needing to be bored or jealous? I’m a writer. I can save these things from oblivion. But I’m still alone with them — alone, alone, alone.
8pm. It’s a high school friend’s birthday party and she’s invited other high school friends — one, in particular, that I haven’t seen since graduation. We never spoke at school and know little about each other, but we’re having a nice conversation about his acting aspirations.
9pm. I’m lining up for the toilet when a guy slumps against the wall beside me and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him that I’m waiting for the toilet. “Cool,” he says, and stumbles off towards the kitchen.
10:30pm. At this point I’m starving. The hunger arrives around the same time every night, and when I’m at home I usually gorge on peanut buttered toast or a can of creamed corn. Right now I am seriously considering ordering a pizza. Instead I eat three slices of buttered bread from a loaf on the counter. While I’m eating, a guy from outside approaches me.
11pm. The guy pours me a drink. A strong one. There aren’t any clean cups left so he uses a candleholder that he fills and holds out towards me. I politely refuse, but I’m thirsty. So I fill an empty sugar bowl with water and drink that instead.
11:30pm. He’s lovely and easy to talk to. He’s from the same hometown, and lives with the guy from my high school, the actor. Mostly we talk about our hometown and our mutual friends. He tells me about how he lived next door to the oddball at my school, the one who was bullied mercilessly every day. He speaks about him kindly and decently, but in the way people are indulgent of others they don’t understand. Soon enough comes the light teasing, the ridicule of others, to test how I will react. And I laugh with him. I enjoy laughing. Within moments, I am lured into the seductiveness of having power, of being someone who can afford to be cruel because they don’t understand what’s at stake.
12am. I am still unwilling to let the farce end. I take a seat with him outside and we continue talking. The guy from the toilets joins us. I sit wedged between the two of them on an overturned milk crate. The guy from the toilets asks me what my name is and I tell him. He laughs and says, “That’s my ex-girlfriend’s name. She was Filipino, or something.” He asks me what I do and I tell him. “So you’re a journalist,” he says. I explain to him that I’m a freelance writer. “That’s right,” he says. “You write journalism.” He asks me to recommend some books to him. “What do you like to read?” I say. “Anything…” he says, before pausing. “Yeah, anything that doesn’t make me bored.” The other guy slaps his hand to his forehead and winces. I make my choice.
1:30am. We call a taxi. He lives in the same suburb and the fare will be cheaper. He suggests we sit on the stoop outside the house while we wait. His jacket is draped across my shoulders. As I listen to the traffic trundling past, he leans in towards me for a kiss, and more than anything I don’t want to be impolite so I lean in too. While we’re kissing I don’t feel any excitement or butterflies. The entire time I just feel like this:
When we finish kissing, he tells me he’ll add me on facebook — he’ll find me through my high school friend, the actor. I explain to him, clumsily, that the actor and I aren’t facebook friends because we barely know each other. At school, he was a ‘jock’ and I was in the ‘arty’ group. I feel childish for explaining it this way. He tells me he doesn’t care what I was like four years ago, and although I know he means this in a very sweet ‘People Aren’t Bound By Labels We Simply Are Who We Are’ kind of way, I don’t drop my guard.
An idea of who I am:
1) I went dancing with friends one Saturday night and this happened. (A facebook post I posted on a friend’s wall.)
2) I make pornography using emoticons.
3) I freak out when I find a zit near my clit because I know that popping it will result in a sensation of pleasure and pain so intense it will most likely launch me into another dimension.
An idea of who I’d like to be:
When in reality, I’m more like this:
After the trucker incident, I went home alone.
A few days later at my sister’s house, I expressed to my brother that I found it strange men were interested in me. He dismissed me immediately.
“[My name],” he said gravely. “I don’t want to hear about your low self esteem.”
I laid back on my sister’s bed and stared at the ceiling. We sat in silence for some time — my sister on the computer, my brother reading, me staring at the ceiling.
“I like being alone,” I said, eventually. “It’s more that I miss being in love.”
And my brother sort of looked at me in a pained way like he was both amused and saddened by what I’d just said. He didn’t respond, only made a ‘tsk’ noise with his tongue before returning to his copy of A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords.
He broke up with his boyfriend once, but they still loved each other while they were apart. They got back together and had been together for over ten years. The three of us had been living together the past few months, and I’d seen how good they were to each other. It made me realise that things shouldn’t have been the way they were.
Computer programmer (2011 - )
Quite possibly the sweetest man I’ve met.
A collection of stories and images from the life and times of a Single Asian Female. Not to be confused with the web comic of the same title and/or pornstuffs.
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