Sunday, February 29, 2004

Ahmad's Party

Last night I went to Ahmad's loft in Brooklyn to help celebrate his sixth birthday. You see, the boy was a leap-year baby. I was going to get Ahmad a present but then I figured a bottle of Absolut would be the best present for his alcoholic ass. After I tracked him down in the living room, I was pretty surprised to see him with his full head of hair dyed in a ghoulish gold color and sticking in all directions. He looked like he just jumped out of an anime movie, but the color actually worked really well on him.

I really didn't enjoy the party as much as I wanted to because I didn't know that many people, since they were mostly Ahmad's high school friends and their friends. In the beginning I talked mostly with Ahmad and his friend Jeff, who's also a total drunkard, but also really nice and laidback. Throughout the night, I talked to some guy who majored in Theology because he liked literature but didn't want to major in English, even though he professed to be totally unreligious (confirmed by the mostly empty 40 bottle in his hand); some guy who's teaching math in a middle school in the Bronx; some girl who's working in advertising. It was mostly stupid, shallow chit chatting, something to keep me from drinking too much since I can't talk and drink at the same time.

Until this kid John saw my Shanghai T-shirt. Earlier Ahmad and Jeff had told me they thought my black shirt, which features a white sketch of the Jewel of the Orient Tower in between the Chinese words for "Shanghai", was totally "rad," which I really appreciated. However, I wondered if I should write "bought in China, not some fucking thrift store in Brooklyn" on the shirt lest people think I'm yet another fucking hipster who loves to troll thrift stores and buy weird ass shirts just to show off how totally "ironic" I am.

Anyways, I was totally caught off guard by this white kid John's recognition of my Shanghai shirt, so we started talking. Apparently, he studied Chinese at a university in Chengdu for 9 months and did quite a bit of traveling in China. He even went to the western autonomous region of XinJiang, which is mostly occupied by Arabs. I also found out that he's originally from Idaho (at which point we spontaneously flashed the "West Coast!" sign like the slightly intoxicated fools we were), just moved to Brooklyn and is looking for a job. We talked for a good 20 minutes and swapped phone numbers before he headed his way to the living room to get a dance party started.

As I was talking to John, I wondered why I enjoyed talking to this guy so much more than all the other people at the party. Have I become more Chinese since I graduated from college or are the people I'm meeting just not as interesting anymore? I found a lot to talk about with John mainly because of our memories of China. On the other hand, I had roughly the same number of Asian and non-Asian friends at Stanford and yet never felt like I was closer to the former group for cultural reasons.

I shut off my brain and followed John to the living room to watch the "dance party" get under way. I soon came to the conclusion that some white people should never be allowed to dance to Dr. Dre. What I witnessed was horrifying and grotesque: these kids (John excluded, fortunately) were not as much dancing as convulsing. I know I didn't think much of hip hop dance moves when I first saw groups of jersey-sporting, du-rag-wearing, bling-bling-flashing, black men gyrating on BET, but at least I have gotten used to that by now. Watching these geek-chic, white Ivy League kids contorting their backs and jerking their legs with no particular rhyme or reason was just too much. I swear at one point I had a flashback to an episode of Chappelle's Show from two weeks ago in which Dave was making fun of the different racial groups dancing to their own kind of music. When one of the guys incorporated the pantomiming of closing a window into his dance routine, I decided it was time to leave the living room.

Thereafer, I engaged in more insipid small talk before I walked in on a conversation between Kabir, a guy I knew from Stanford who's also living in NYC now, and this girl Izzy, who's Ahmad's ex. Their debate about the "Sex and the City" finale was just the final motivation I needed to leave the party, but not before Ahmad forced me to drink half a cup of this foul gin-and-tonic he made. Of course, gin-and-tonic drinks are foul in general so I am in no way criticizing Ahmad's mixing ability.