I've Never Kissed an Asian Man

I have never kissed an Asian man.

Or woman.

And I’ve kissed a lot of people.

I distinctly remember my very first lap dance for an Asian man, thinking to myself, “Ewwww, how weird would it be to kiss a man who reminds me of my father.”


There was no abuse in our home. Instead, there was silence.

My childhood is filled with memories of my mother, wordlessly, with ghost-like invisibility, doing the household chores, bone-tired after a long day in the curtain factory with an hour commute in each direction. I was entrusted with getting myself and my little sister to school and back each day. Dad would come home late, and he worked weekends as often as possible. We knew that he loved us, because he was always at the local car manufacturing plant, getting as much overtime as possible.


Bachelor parties were a regular occurrence at the strip club and, a few times a year, there would be a group of Asian men. One comment stuck with me, all these years later.

“Do you reckon she dates Asian men?”

One look at me, “Nah.”

How the heck could he tell?

(I still took all their money.)


I rarely saw my parents interacting with each other. Never hugs, nor laughter. Barely any conversation. Only years later did I appreciate the strength of their arranged marriage - their trust in the judgment of their elders, upholding their faith in tradition – which allowed them to endure machinery-greased dust, in a land far from their ancestors, with quiet grace.

As a teen, I decided that in order to get physical affection – or any of the Western representations of romantic love that I’d seen on television – that I would need to seek out someone not Asian, also not knowing that nearly all the Vietnamese adults whom I knew were all deeply traumatized. It has been a casual observation of mine that those who did date and marry other Asians came from happier homes than mine.


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