The Hypocrite


esterday, I went with M to K-Mart. I thought they had toilet paper on sale. They did–2 12 roll packages for $11–but it was not the kind I was expecting. It was the soft kind, 600 sheets per roll. I wanted single ply, 1000 sheets per roll.M mistakenly bought two ply last time. It’s nice and soft, but I swear I can see the roll get smaller with just one spin of the roll.

We had no paper, and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet (what a segue), so we went to a Ruby Tuesday that’s located in a neighboring shopping center. It’s sort of on the corner of Jermantown and Route 50 behind the Shell Station. I swear, they have the best burgers in Fairfax. Have you seen the RT commercials where they claim they are so confident with their burgers, that they’ll replace it, if you’re not satisfied? Well, that confidence is well grounded. They are a scrumptious 1/2 pound burger. I used to have my way of stacking a burger–the order of ingredients really makes a sandwich taste different. Well, I think I may have to change it. I used to put the mayo on the top next to tomato and the mustard on the bottom with the pickle, but at RT the mayo and mustard are together with the pickle. Another thing is that the lettuce is shreaded, not left as a whole leaf. I think I’ll try this the next time we have a BBQ.

Well, as M and I were sipping beer after lunch at the bar–we usually eat lunch at the bar so we get quicker beer service–they were showing the John Deere Classic on TV and they were focusing on Michelle Wie, the Korean girl–all 15 years old–trying to make the cut in a men’s tournament. For those of you who don’t know, Wie is a kind of golf prodigy, approaching Tiger Woods in status. She hit a 64 at the age of 10! That’s one-zero, guys. I think I hit 64 on the front nine once, which is why I don’t play golf anymore.

A guy wearing a light blue dress shirt with a white collar was sitting a few seats away, focused on the TV. When the boadcast cut to a comercial, he struck up a conversation with me, saying that he didn’t really have that much interest in golf. “The only reason why I’m watching it is to see if Michelle Wie makes the cut. I think she has to hit three under.” (That would be three strokes under par over two days/36 holes.)

“Oh yeah?” I responded disinterested in his reasons for watching golf.

“I hear she’s from Hawaii,” he continued.

“Yeah, I think she’s Korean, or of Korean heritage,” I had to add. There has been so much chatter these days about Asians being viewed as not “really” American. Some stupid shock jocks in New Jersey made comments that reflected this attitude. Other Xangans have recently discussed their own ordeals of this kind of racism. Last year, I talked about another guy who openly rooted for Minnesota because they featured more white players. Certainly, the rise of racially charged comments seems more pronounced these past few years. Perhaps, those who act this way feel more comfortable in expressing their prejudice in our current conservative political climate. My comment about Wie’s heritage was a way to establish parameters, to convey the suggestion that any comments of Asian-ness would not be tolerated.

But he simply said, “Well, she’s probably as much Korean as I am Dutch.”

I nodded, pleased at his comment, but inside I was totally embarassed. This guy, Anton, continued to talk, but I didn’t hear anything he said. All I could think was: I’ve always wanted to be viewed as an American, not Japanese American, not Asian American. Just American. And now I did exactly what I hate others to do. I identified Michelle Wie not as an American, but as a Korean American. And it took this white guy to reveal my own hypocrisy.

I felt so embarassed, so small… so stupid. I need time to reflect on this incident, to reflect on myself and my values.

Anton, wherever you are, thanks. Intentionally or not, you gave me a swift kick in the ass, and it was just what I needed.


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