“Dad, why don’t I have a nose?” I asked as I pushed my specs back up for the twelfth time this car ride.
“Shut up la. You cannot dislike your heriteej, ok? Must be proud. You will be become doctor and your silly friends work McDonald’s.” Along with Thai maids and George Bush, my dad should not be allowed to speak English in public.
I was 11 and being the only Asian kid in our neighbourhood, I didn’t even know what my “heriteej” was. In my mind, I was just as white, laid back, rude and sometimes just as drunk as any other Australian male living in the west of Sydney. I may have even dabbled in the odd drive-by shooting. However, my foray into public life via primary school education was slowly but surely throwing hints at me that I was different. I started having inklings of this when I was five and my family and I turned up to a beach play date with jeans, socks and sandals over our socks. My dad, or the Biggest Loser as I call him now, then proceeded to leave us throughout the day at four minute intervals to take samples from the Darrell Lea chocolate stand, altering one piece of clothing each time in an attempt to deceive the sales people of his one-man stinginess.
Like every other ride to school, The Biggest Loser was picking his nose with his right hand whilst his left foot rested on my side of the dashboard. To make things more glamorous, the nail he uses to excavate his nose is about as long as his penis – which I know as an Asian isn’t saying much. But it’s still gross. The only thing that digs deeper for gold is Heather Mills.
If my dad was white…..
As distracting as this was, I was focused on reciting the lines to O Come All Ye Faithful. This was my big day. It was my school’s annual Christmas assembly and I was about to duet in front of an audience of over 600 pre-pubescent kids.
Despite my dad’s doctor dreams (I’m sure he dreamt of nurses too), I had watched way too many Britney Spears music videos and E! True Hollywood Stories to settle for the cookie-cutter Asian university path. I was going to become famous. If Destiny’s Child, Craig David or Aqua taught me anything it was that ethnic minorities and the mentally unstable could still make it in the entertainment industry. But they also taught me something else: sex sells.
I’m sure most primary school children aren’t meant to be that well versed in what sex or puberty really are, but from a young age I learnt that sex got attention. My dad was a single father (you wonder why) and because he has the financial know-how of a Malawian orphan, we could only afford to live in and share the spare bedroom in my grandmother’s home. My dad never locks the bedroom door and as appropriate as it would be for Lindsay Lohan to preach sobriety, I was suddenly introduced to the world of pornography, masturbation and obesity. I could never get my dad’s attention when I tied my first shoelace or ate my first quail head, but pornography? He was so transfixed you’d think he was staring at a Mi Goreng two-for-one special.
So unless small penises, flat chests, flat noses and a permanent squint were ever going to come into fashion, I started to understand that Asians had no sex appeal. That’s why I joined the choir. People would appreciate me for my talent, my voice not my looks. This is why Christina Aguilera still has a career. But getting into the choir was a difficult task. Choir leader Mrs Peach was as racist as they came. Months ago, Eric, a new student from Zimbabwe, joined our class and Mrs Peach offered him her half-eaten sandwich, wrapped her scarf over him and made us do a tribal dance to Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life to welcome him. When I auditioned for the duet she looked me up and down as if I had the credibility of a black Republican presidential candidate.
My future was awaiting….
But I was convinced that this would be my time to shine. My duet partner was Belinda, a redhead living further west of Sydney than we did. Between Albino Barbie and I, it was the battle of the two ethnic minorities and I was determined to come out on top.
As I nervously opened the car door I looked back at my dad, searching for some words of encouragement or maybe a kiss goodbye – all the other kids got this. Nothing. I was also learning that Asian men don’t show emotion. Instead, he yelled at me for keeping the door open and began to drive away before scraping the boot of the car in front and screaming, “Buck you!”
As we I entered the hall with Albino Barbie, we were stopped by our school’s paparazzi.
“Why do you think Mrs Peach chose you two to sing this duet?”
After pouting the letters ‘A’, ‘E’, ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘U’ and shielding my eyes from Belinda’s blinding skin I responded, “I think Mrs Peach really wanted to give some other kids ago. You know, kids that haven’t really had a chance to shine in the last few years. This is my first time performing on our school stage and for Belinda … No one likes her because her boobs are fake!”
Faster than Michelle Bachmann running from a gay rights rally, Albino Barbie bursts into a flood of crocodile tears. As I mentioned, I was very well versed in films such as Eyes Wide Shut and Pamela and Tommy Lee’s video, I knew fake when I saw it.
With the motivational power of Tiger Woods spruiking monogamy, I encouraged her, “Come on Kirstie Alley, the show must go on.”
“How dare you humiliate your peers like that young man? Just before such an important performance! I’ll see to it that you apologise to her right now and that you’re removed from school captain candidacy.”
I thought my performance was Grammy-worthy but before I could even get back into the hall to mingle with my fans, Animal Planet’s most-endangered was yelling her utter off at me. Within moments of explaining how important Albino Barbie’s family were to the school, they paid for the Olympic-sized school pool (not surprised, Belinda had to bathe somewhere), Mrs Peach pulled a Paris Hilton and showed me what she and Albino Barbie had in common. I must say, I was rather impressed. She had a face which made Keith Richards look young, but her two puppies were still in rather great shape and her posture was also rather straight. Props to the granny keeping it plastic fantastic. If I was her agent I’d suggest she audition for Jerseylicious.
Laughing in hysterics at her wardrobe malfunction, I was taking her as seriously as I did Scientology. This feeling was foreign to me (and in later years it would extinct), I wanted to play and purr with her two bouncy balloons. That was until –
“That’s it Mr L … Loo? Lour? Li? Lee? Whatever, you people need to watch the mess you’re getting yourselves into!”
Bitch had crossed the line and Mrs Hitler (facial hair and all) was about to feel the wrath of my Kung Fu/Jujitsu/Taekwondo (whichever the Chinese style is) kick-ass skill.
“Pamela, what did you just say?” my hot size 0 teacher asked. Her real name was Pamela? Oh, this day was too much to take in.
Quicker than you could spell ‘racist’, Hitler and Angelina Jolie were in a Real Housewives of New York City-style bitch fight. I was amazed. Apart from that time when a man in a shopping centre asked if I was lost and needed to return to Woomera Detention Centre, a white person has never helped or stuck up for me. I could see the headlines already, “Public school beauty rescues racially abused boy”. I wondered if Mrs Hottie would adopt me.
Before I left that day I was told Mrs Peach would no longer be returning. I felt bad, how would she continue to afford Botox? But more so I was on ecstasy (not literally – yet) that I could still run for school captain and that this hot mess of an ordeal catapulted me into school-wide fame.
Not that my dad cared. On the way home my dad hit me on the back of my head (DOCS, if you’re reading, it was VERY VERY hard). I don’t think he liked the attention from other parents congratulating him for having such a resilient son. If the words of congratulations didn’t start with ‘full’ and end in ‘high school scholarship’ my dad didn’t give a rat’s arse.
That evening I decided to write a fan letter to (the real) Angelina Jolie explaining how much I admired her and that if she wanted another Asian son, I was available. I too would be happy having a Mohawk and travelling to third world countries for photo opportunities. Suddenly, I smelt my dad’s shirt sleeve on my shoulder. You know what they say, one man’s trash is another Asian migrant man’s wardrobe. I thought I was busted for having a provocative photo of Ange on the computer screen. Nope. He just stood there with his hand on my shoulder was I poured my heart out to my future mum. Till this day I believe that was his gesture of how proud he was of me. It was also the last gesture. As the years went by and I continued to fight for my fame throughout high school, my feelings towards Angelina Jolie would begin to change and that brought on a whole new shit-fight my dad and the world-at-large couldn’t handle.
My future mum