Yesterday on my way home from school I decided to get my nails done. I didn’t want just a regular polish. No, sir! I wanted a jell overlay. I normally wouldn’t treat myself to this kind of thing, but I had written two finals (two English finals, which means six essays all together).
While I was pulling my scarf over my head to break the wind and picking sand out of my eyes, I was also debating stopping at the Hong Kong bakery or the liquor store, maybe both. Imagine dipping an eclair into a glass of whisky or Baileys and Coffee. Well, next time. I probably won’t tell anyone that I have done this. I wouldn’t want to start a trend…or maybe I’d just be too ashamed.
Anyways, I went in to Jade’s salon. I was bombarded by bright pinks, porcelain cats, and a large fish tank. Contrastingly, Jade sat quietly filing her nails. Whenever I go in to a place like Vo’s, I expect to be terribly uncomfortable, but Jade had quite the opposite effect. She acknowledged our differences without making me feel like the other. Keep in mind that in Chinatown I am the other, for I am neither homeless nor Chinese.
Jade was very curious about where I lived (I even air-drew the layout of my apartment), what I was doing in school and what I wanted to do when I graduated. When I told her that I was considering teaching overseas, she told me to go to Taiwan. “Oh, they would love a pretty white girl over there. Men would be asking you on dates constantly,” she said.
When she asked if my landlord was Chinese I said, “yes, but her husband is white.” As soon as I said it I felt my stomach constrict. I had pointed out otherness. But it seemed to be ok because later she mentioned that her daughter was engaged to a “Caucasian.” Maybe I had opened the door, or maybe it had been open it all along.
It seems like we’ve gotten to the point where pointing out differentness is taboo.
Once we had acknowledged the otherness, I loosened up (I’m not sure if this was the case for her).
Thesis: If the Other and their Otherness is acknowledged, the otherness fades away into unimportance.
Does that make sense?
I have the feeling that a lot has already been written on the Other. Who am I kidding, of course there has.
Anyways, I left Jade’s feeling like I was leaving my grandma’s (which really isn’t an insult because she’s 50, she told me).