No Jab. Big Hook

The only friend I felt comfortable asking was Dan.  He was also the one who I felt the most shame to ask. 

Dan had been my first friend after moving to this new place called Middleville couple years back in 5th grade. But after I decided that I wanted to become more popular at the end of 6th grade, I had been distancing myself from him. We were still friends, but an internal shame of being connected to him had grown within me. Whenever someone said something like "Oh you and Dan are friends right?" my feelings of self worth shrunk instantly. 

It's ironic* that my main reason for wanting to remain in the U.S, the only reason for having to ask Dan if his family would accept me into their home was my desperate grasp onto whatever little progress I had made inching up the social ladder in the past year. I clung onto it like a dung beetle its ball of crap. In my head if I lost that, I would never be able to assimilate when I returned years later in the middle of high school. By that time I would be a total FOB (Fresh Off the Boat). I'd become one of those Koreans who had no American friends and only hung out with other FOBs and other Asians who tolerated FOBs.

This part scared me enough to make me suck up the shame of having to live with Dan. My shame came not only from the fact that I was going to be even more associated with this guy, but also the fact that I was asking a friend who I had been purposely trying to drop. And finally, I felt a residual shame from being more concerned with the first then the last. 

I had gone over to his locker in between classes. He was alone. Dan didn't stand around socializing in between classes because all his other friends also just went straight to class. They didn't have a circle of guys saying jokes and sharing pieces of gum. Not like I had started to have by this time. He shut his locker door and asked me "Hey, what's up?"

I thought I had to talk real fast. My situation was complicated and there was a lot to explain and a lot to say. But what came out of my words was a simple and slow ask that could basically be summarized as, "My parents have to go back to Korea. My mom was wondering if you're mom and dad would let me stay with you." 

I expected an immediate rejection to this. It was a crazy ask in my head. 

"Sure. I'll ask them," he said. 

We walked together down the hall. "So why they going back to Korea?"

"Their visa expired. My dad has to renew it."

"Oh shit. That sucks, man."

"Yeah. I know. Thanks."

"See you later. I'll ask my mom tonight."

The next day he unceremoniously came to my locker and told me, "My mom said it was cool."

I felt like the inside of me was going to jump out of its skin and start jumping for joy. But I probably just stood there stupefied. "That's cool!"

"We're going to be roommates," Dan said with a laugh. 


"Oh and Kenny will be our roommate too."

Fuck, I thought.