Our favorite DJ was spinning at Simyone Lounge below Abe & Arthur’s in New York City and we were NOT missing that. So with a night meeting successfully concluded after work, and a solid 12 hours to kill before my next morning’s breakfast meeting, I dashed home, slipped my power outfit out from under my blazer and exchanged it for a fuchsia mini that spoke of carefree fun, taking the place of my suffocating professional garb. My conservative heels were swapped for those with clever toe cleavage and with that I was back in a cab headed to the Meatpacking District.
My girlfriends and I met outside of the club and, pleased with each others’ outfits as usual, smiled mischievously at the pair of doormen behind the velvet rope, exuding power and the right to exercise their discretion. They didn’t stand a chance against us. We were too experienced and knowledgeable with our social resumé to be phased by Manhattan’s nightlife bureaucracy.
I was slightly apprehensive about the possibility of arriving at work bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next morning, but with the DJ’s serious beats and an offer of champagne from some dapper gentleman, my walls came down. I decided that NOW is the time of my life, so I better get to enjoying it. The world doesn’t wait.
Through the crowds of business men, eclectic promoters, models, aspiring actors and veteran club goers, I saw him. He walked in flanked on both sides by similarly dressed, tall, dark, mysterious males in crisp blazers and even sharper jaw lines. The angles in his face left no room for pleasantries but the look in his eyes suggested he’d share a secret or two if I dared ask. I never turn down a challenge.
I made a beeline towards him and disregarded his friends as if he expected me. It seemed as if he did. Though it was dark inside, the black lights still revealed the even tone of his olive complexion. His name was Davi and he and his friends were looking for tables for the night which they wanted filled with bottles and accompanied by women. My girlfriends and I granted one out of the two of their wishes and enjoyed their company into the wee hours.
After being quite charmed by his intensity and his smile (which was more of a persuasion than an expression) he decided we should see each other the next night and perhaps that weekend as well. “Be with me,” he said. “Be my porcelain doll.” Uncertain but intrigued, I toasted my glass in agreement and let him continue to whisk me off my feet. As DJ Chachi spun "White Noise" by Dada Life in front of us, I was more than pleasured by our proximity on the dance floor.
“Be my fantasy,” he whispered as he gripped my waist from behind. And suddenly, as his hands reached around to grab mine, I felt it; hard, raised and indisputable. His wedding band. My shock and repulsion peaked then settled into jadedness as I realized I was all too familiar with this scenario. He turned me around, looked me in the eyes and said, “I want you on my arm. You’ll look great there.” And that smile never looked so sleazy.
In my twenty-seven years on earth, I’ve become acutely aware of how I perceive myself and how others perceive me. In the same breath, I am aware of how I wish to be perceived. And that is very simply as a woman, independent of thought, free of affliction, with the ability to conquer my desires. Journeying through life as a young, single female of Asian ethnicity, I find this is not as simple a task as I’d like it to be.
The first of many areas to be touched upon is in romance. Just as any individual may be stereotyped in society, I find I am stereotyped, unfortunately, in love. My appearance alone has presented me to the majority of males everywhere, including the majority of my lovers, as one of two characters: the domestic slave or the sexual fantasy. Is this an affliction suffered by Asian women everywhere? I have to wonder.
It appears that several of my unsuccessful dating ventures were a result of the male’s disappointed realization that I wasn’t, and never will be, the submissive attendant waiting on my beloved, hand and foot. They feel that I am a false advertisement; as if promises born of an inaccurate image should have been fulfilled and somehow, I dared to defy that notion that settled so deeply in their minds. Rather than shaking the pretense they mistakenly swallowed as knowledge, they dismissed me as damaged goods.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the males that covet me and all that I am – on the outside. They covet a fantasy dreamt up by a film director’s carnal imagination. This fantasy must have spread contagiously in minds small and unexposed, somehow always finding their way to me. These minds seek one thing and one thing only: to experience the phenomenon as they’ve seen it featured on late night adult channels, or illicit online forums, and they want what they are told they will find -- a caricature rather than a person.
As excitable as Mr. Charm-Your-Pants-Off Davi’s stoic-ness was, it took only a mere hint of his fetishism before anger and disgust flared inside me. To be deflated into a symbol of misinformation was one thing, but to be a married man’s conquest was to confirm that I would serve no purpose other than to satisfy his deviant thoughts. With Rihanna crooning about yellow diamonds and love in a hopeless place, her voice echoing behind Calvin Harris’ house beats as the DJ continued to spin the dance floor into a frenzy, I wondered – how does one find love in a hopeless place?
Between domestic submission and sexual fantasy, where is the hope? Or, rather, where is the escape?
My brain feeling as carbonated as the last glass of rose champagne I downed, I walked out and decided to head to Bereket, my favorite Turkish kebab house in the Lower East Side for some late night snacking to soak up the liquor and revulsion churning in my stomach. I ordered some beef shawarma in a pita and devoured it like a man right there on the sidewalk in my mini dress and heels, outside their walk-up window with fellow late night fiends.
I decided that, like my middle eastern delicacy, any man who decided to test my temperament with their ignorance I would swallow whole, keep calm and carry on.