My Korean ex-girlfriend just visited me here in the USA. She enjoyed herself but had a lot of questions about our country. She’s visited and lived here before but never with me as a tour guide. Walking around with her really reminded me how weird our country really is.
She really liked seeing the intermixing of cultures and people. White people dating black people or gay folks holding hands openly in the streets impressed her. Being openly gay in Korea, as well as much of Asia, isn’t really something that happens. She loved the Pride Parade and took a bajillion photos with people of all colors of the rainbow.
Maybe the most bizarre and fun times were our trips to the grocery store, Target and Walgreens. We spent hours going through all the aisles, and I did my best to answer why there are so many different brands/styles/sizes of paper towels, the difference between pulp and no-pulp orange juice and why Coke bottles have people’s names on them, and then I had to do my best to answer myriad questions about the “female aisle.”
Lots of folks walked up to my ex to ask her questions — mostly normal things like whether she’s from North or South Korea, what she thinks of Kim Jong Un or how she likes America.
However, I had to field some disappointing questions about her.
When you’re a white guy dating an Asian girl, you hear a lot of queries about having “yellow fever” — when men prefer to date and fetishize Asian women. This isn’t true with me. I dated her because I like her.
The low point was when one drunk guy stumbled up to us and asked me if she spoke English. I don’t think that’s necessarily an insulting question, but he could have asked her, not me. She doesn’t need me as a mouthpiece because she speaks fluent English. He kept going. “So, did you pay for her?” I didn’t want to cause a scene, so I didn’t uppercut him in his ignorant balls, but I nearly did when he called her “a fine piece of ass.” Luckily for him and for my criminal record, the train pulled up at that moment and we left him.
It was more fun answering her questions: Why are Americans so loud? Why don’t the police arrest the guys smoking pot over there? Why do people need drive-thru banks and pharmacies? The most difficult one was, “How come this bottle of water says it’s 54.4 ounces here but only three pints and 6.4 ounces there? What’s the difference?” Instead of explaining why the U.S. doesn’t use the metric system, I think I just told her something about the illuminati and tried to distract her with all the varieties of Doritos.
All in all, her visit was a blast. We saw a lot, ate too much and enjoyed just about every minute we had together. I think it’s true that you never really know something until you have to explain it to somebody else. But know this: Ask me where I bought my friend and I’ll make you even uglier.