Of Men and Boats


Back when I used to work at a newspaper assisting homosexuals to make sexual hook ups with greater immediacy and a higher rate of success, a lot of crazy fucked up shit would happen to me, even within the seven minute windows of my many randomly taken breaks for cigarettes and coffee.

I’d stand there at street level blinking in the sunlight smoking and drinking coffee and fielding constant comments and perpetual inquiries from all passersby. Drag queens serving daytime realness would accost me with entreaties to do their make up before their next big show. Cops driving by would honk and either give me knowing nods or subject me to a brief suspicion of passing scrutiny. Rentboys and drug dealers would offer services and products or bum smokes. Homeless people gave me sob stories that I quickly knew by heart. All these encounters occurred with a kind of clockwork consistency and many of the meetings were for the most part amusing, endearing and bearable, usually.

Some passing males however would darken my days with their forwardness and lack of anything at all approaching intelligence, grace, or chivalry. These men seemed to presume I was put on God’s earth literally for their sakes. They also assumed I was “specially equipped” and was just hanging around waiting for business to happen, or to score. In the simpleness of their minds and the thickness of their skulls, even the most faintly attractive stylized Asian female living or dead has got to be a ladyboy.

Put yourself for five seconds into my six inch stilettos and imagine how irritating and absurd it might actually be to deal with these rejects.

One man chatted me intensely up while I monosyllabically offered the odd reply. Suddenly this man leaned hard up against me to closely address my total face. He cocked his head vaguely in a certain key direction and huskily declared, “Listen. I don’t care what you got down there. I’m ready to go all day.” Obviously this man had aims and an advancement of skills to utterly redefine romance and bring things unforgettably to the “next level.” God knows how I found the strength to resist the magical delights he clearly had on offer. Surely I would never again in the rest of all my days receive a proposition that could be more gorgeous and enchanting. Knight in blazing armour, I mean, shit. “Thank you, but no,” I replied, “My calendar is pretty much booked.” Men really are retards flashed across my mind. I gazed neutrally around as I put out my smoke.

Later up in the office it was calling Vancouver time. My co-workers had a special dislike for making calls to BC because the province was overrun with rich Asians who could by all accounts barely speak English. In the din of all those one-sided conversations, I could hear a righteousness of annoyance and exasperation in many of my co-worker’s voices as they struggled to complete business with the Vancouver Asians. Statements were repeated loudly and slowly many times. “God! Speak English!” my co-workers would angrily afterward shout into the uninterested air amidst the sound of receivers being downward slammed. “Yeah!” I’d say, “Jesus. Come to our country, the least these chinky bastards could do is learn the goddamned language.” My co-workers mutteringly chorused casual agreement. “I mean,” I added, “if I went to China, I’d learn both Mandarin and Cantonese in five fucking minutes. Be the least I could do cause like. Go there. Take their jobs. I sure as shit should immediately and perfectly learn Chinese.” Here my co-workers would flounder a bit, losing the thread of wherever the fuck it was I was going.

For reasons including but not limited to the fact that my command of the English language approaches levels of both scathing and awesome, people when they are being racist and slamming “immigrants” for whatever unforgivable faults sometimes forget for quite a while before they notice or remember that at least one of the present company is in fact not white. That person with brutal usualness turns out to be me. Then commences the clumsiness of backpedaling. The more astute co-workers of quicker wit and greater awareness of their surroundings then suddenly cease with the Vancouver Asians Speak English complaining. The bright innocence of the look in my eyes I hoped spoke volumes; the abashed “oh shit” expression on some of my co-workers faces was nonetheless sufficient to amuse and appease.

“Nunich—how did you come to Canada?” one of my co-workers cautiously inquired. Her eyes were wide, her expression eager, and her tone of voice was carefully pleasant. In the sudden clarity of circumstance, girlfriend attempted a feigned interest in my personal refugee’s making it to the land of milk and honey story. “I walked,” I said. No one challenged the claim. “I mean,” I said, leaning forward and with a drop in tonal modulation to develop and deepen the conversational intimacy, “There was a boat of course but I didn’t do well with so much water. All that bobbing. No thanks. So I walked.” The bravery and brevity of my narrative was met with muted appreciation. The silence of the room felt very dense. “Long walk,” I added. Then I grinned with most of my teeth on display. The collective look I received was not comfortable. Nunich 1, Racist Co-Workers 0. Not that I genuinely enjoy “winning” in such moments, but when shit gets increasingly racist and the situation heads eye-rollingly south, it’s important to try for the teaching of a lesson, but it’s also important to still have fun. Winning is irrelevant.


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