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Triple A

Asian. Adoptee. Actor.


By the time I realized I hadn’t said anything, it was too late.

He’d already made a number of stops, turns, blinker-on-off and I realized neither of us did the Hot today, huh? or Busy downtown today or You live downtown? Of course, as soon as I realized, the air was cut with my own self-awareness and what then became a small, silent, sit-in.

But this guy and I had history. Only about two hours old, but still. After I’d parked the car in the service dock and had stood, waiting, trying to look expectantfriendlyalittleimpatient he came over with his clipboard, stopped in front of me, and bowed.

I was taken aback, befuddled, and not a little insulted. Really, dude? You’re gonna bow at me? You’re not asian, but I am, so I get a bow?

Okay, maybe it’s possible he bows at everyone. But I doubt it.

I think my face registered a combination of a lot of things and probably landed on a general What the Fuck expression.

But I’m trying to be more forgiving. I often, often fail. Part of me itches for a combative situation, always has. The blue collar, looking-for-a-fight itch. It exists mostly in fantasy. From the time I was a kid, I imagined scenarios where I balled up my fists in defense of friends, family, victimized strangers.

I have no idea how to fight.

So in the shuttle, in silence, I thought – of course this guy has a story and it’s complicated and maybe he’s done so many things that I would respect and maybe he’s a hero to his family and maybe he thought bowing to me would be charming.

But it wasn’t and I didn’t ask him about his family and we both chose not to say a single word during the entire ride. Which was, of course, fine.



If you’ve never watched a bunch of kids in singlets and headgear wrestling each other on a mat then let me shed some light:

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

You know those terrible, slo-mo sequences of the innocently grazing gazelle whose life is suddenly, terribly, in dire peril? It’s like that. Only with children.

Wrestling is an amazing sport. Just watching these kids grappling with each other brings up some mighty primitive emotions. GET AWAY, you scream. GET OUT FROM UNDER. When another being has you in a hold and suddenly your limbs aren’t functioning – that’s when the neurons either fire with adrenaline or begin a shutdown process.

And the emotion. All of it – fear, determination, desperation, anguish, frustration – right on the surface and heated like a layer of coals. There’s no self consciousness here, just id. My brother-in-law tells me he’s never seen so much crying in a sport. It’s true – kids wrestle with tears streaming down their faces, their entire bodies red with effort.

I watched as one kid was accidentally poked in the nose, and it was as if he’d been attacked by a gang of thugs. Then, two minutes later, he pinned another kid and his eyes were cold and concentrated.

The opportunity for analogy knocks incessantly. My nephew lost a match to a girl recently, and I thought well, it’s not the only time that will happen. He’s got a kind of zen sensibility about it, though. Before his match today he said, “I’ll probably lose,” then he grinned. While he wrestles, he’ll turn his lips in and gets a look on his face like Hm, so this is how it will go down. He seems game for the grapple but not crushed if he loses.

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