I’ve recently started a freelance job at a very large company, which is part of an even larger parent company in New York. They own the entire building and each floor housed a different sub-company. It was 6:30pm, and the elevator made a stop at every other floor. People packed in, eager to start their commute home.
One man stood in a corner, sleeves rolled up, book tucked in the nook of his arm.
An older woman noticed it and asked, “What are you reading?”
“It’s a book by David Sedaris,” replied the man. “He signed it actually! It says, ‘Happy 40th birthday, may you conquer many Asians’.”
“What…?” The woman said. There was some giggling in the packed elevator. Giggles gained courage and grew in to laughter. Everyone was smiling and looking nervously at me, the only Asian in the packed elevator. Hell, I was the only minority in the elevator. “What does that mean? Conquer Asia?”
“No, it says ‘conquer many Asians. I have no idea what it means, I have to meet him again and ask him about it.”
300 years later, the elevator finally hit the lobby, and I escaped in to the wild, uncomfortable and slightly offended.
I don’t know much about David Sedaris; I’ve seen his name on a few shelves at bookstores, and understand he’s some kind of comedian. Not sure that I like his brand of humor. Or perhaps he’s better in longform, because a little quip like that is so….um….objectifying?? A quick search on google for “David Sedaris Asians” (because I wondered if he was quoting something) only turned up a short article he wrote about how disgustingly dirty China is and how weird Chinese food is. I dunno, it wasn’t that funny, it was very…expected and not witty. Kinda just made me go “Hmm. :/” and close the browser.