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 slice of kimchi and said, “Actually, never mind.”
When we left the restaurant, he took the crumbled tissue with him and tossed it in a trashcan outside.
A week after the lunch with Jason, I decided to go to an info session for a service organization. I was still adjusting to this new environment where kids my age worked the hell out of their bodies on weekdays and partied to dawn on weekends, where the question of one’s origin and all the implications associated with
it mattered as much as one’s face. I saw service as a healthy alternative to start my college career, so I ran to the basement of the physical sciences building as soon as classes ended on a rainy Wednesday after- noon. There was a line of people waiting by the front desk to sign in. A girl in our university sweater sat by the sign-in sheets, counting names with nods as the line moved forward. For the first meeting of a volun- teer club, the lecture hall was surprisingly small. There were only five rows of seats, a small wooden stage,
and a formal podium stamped with an American seal. Back in high school, places like this was where my theater friends held their performances—if only this cozy little place also had a fire place. Then someone pinched my neck from behind.
“You wanna sit together?” I was slightly taken aback. Jason Minjun Kim stood behind me. Of all people, Jason was simply a delight.
We went down the stairs and situated ourselves in the middle row, where the lighting was the dimmest. In the seven minutes before the meeting officially commenced, Jason never stopped peeking at the entrance door. We talked, but his eyes were scattered, as if he had a date and was desperate to get up. He finally settled down when the door closed at four- thirty, and none of his Korean hyungs showed up. I saw a slight tinge of disappointment on his face as
he pulled out his phone and texted someone, “jigeum eodi ya?” Where are you right now? As the president, the girl who monitored the sign-ins earlier, came
onto stage, I briefly scanned the room and realized Jason and I were the only Asians.
Then George Anderson walked in and spotted us in the dark. George was one of the football dudes who shared a bathroom with Jason and me. The only place we ever saw each other was in the bathroom. We’d had several short banters when we were pissing in adjacent toilet stalls.
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“Iknew I had breached the unspoken rule of Asian
American communities—that it’s rude to assume another Asian’s heritage based on his or her physiques.”

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