getting to know all about you
My first encounter with rejection occurred at the tender age of five. My mother was going through a perplexing stage mother phase at the time, and made up her mind with absolute certainty that it was a wonderful idea to sign me up for “The King and I” auditions at a local professional theatre. Two hours and three a Capella verses of “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” later, I was sent home with the patronizing instructions to “bring sheet music next time” and the constructive criticism that I “didn’t look Asian enough.” For all these short lived diamond-studded-tiara-wearing attempts to propel her eldest child into stardom, my mom had not prepared me for this low blow. I don’t look Asian enough?! How could I possibly remedy that? Was there somehow a way to curtail my Irish heritage and shove it a few feet over, into the mediterranean sea? And who were these bozos to say I was not Asian enough anyway? Did that not count as racial profiling? I liked chicken chow mein as much as the next girl and I was more than prepared to learn mandarin. For days the heartbreak of rejection manifested itself in the form of multiple halfhearted attempts at acting more like my kimono-wearing rice-harvesting brethren on the other side of the pacific. I watched nothing but “Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat” and attempted to slurp ramen noodles out of a bowl whilst sitting cross legged on the floor. Eventually, it dawned on me that the proverbial asian rowboat had sailed. I was a blue eyed blond whose ancestors survived off potatos and dancing jigs. The King and I role had escaped me. This was a sobering realization, but eventually, I assume I got over it. I had forgotten about this entirely until this afternoon when I stumbled upon the sheet music to “Getting To Know You” inside my aunt’s piano bench and immediately realized that I remembered all the words. That is a strange feeling, remembering the words to a song you retired before you even knew how to add and subtract numbers. (which might not be the best example, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t have that mastered until second semester of sixth grade) It feels a little like hissing incantations over a brewing pot. Your mouth remembers showtunes that your brain does not. I heard about this guy who had a stroke while he was sleeping and woke up speaking fluent German. I have no idea how that relates, but I thought it was awesome. But anyway! All at once the memories of my heritage based rejection came flooding back like fishies in a koi pond, and I started thinking about how much cooler my life would be if I’d played one of the kids in King and I when I was five. First of all, I’d have a professional acting gig under my belt. There might have been talent scouts in the audience who would have scouted me out and given me a real time Disney channel series based off my life. Also, I’d have early childhood memories of interacting with professional actors, promo parties, and shrimp scampi. It’s at this time that it occurs to me that stewing in this type of rejection is probably a little bit unhealthy. Sometimes it’s best to let this one go. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just aren’t Asian enough. This is a difficult lesson that all children must learn at some point… Unless you are actually Asian. Lucky jerks.