ASIAN DAD: An Origin Story

does not know kung-fu. cannot break a brick in half. cannot catch a fly with chopsticks. does not even use chopsticks, really. but he is good at blending in. being virtually invisible. bitten, perhaps, by a mutant cuttlefish, a radioactive chameleon, a treefrog oozing gene-warping poison. knows the art of disguise as defense, of body becoming background, of chin to chest, head down, soft-skinned cephalopod turned in on itself.

the origins of ASIAN DAD are uncertain. the swamplands, maybe, or the salt flats of another planet. but wherever he came from, one thing is clear: he is Not From Around Here. no city wants to take him: they have their supermen on payroll already, red-clad renegades leaping from skyscraper to skyscraper, american flags fluttering behind them, belts bursting with fourth of july fireworks. so for now he disguises himself as a civilian. like the mimic octopus, he feigns the hunger of larger predators to evade consumption. he feeds on smaller fish in the meantime, this minimal destruction, this weighing guilt, he promises to pay it forward someday when the city signal alights to the shadow of a squid—hang on, kids! someday he’ll trail over the buildings, two long arms reaching down to pull lives from the wreckage. for now, he endures the carnage.

ASIAN DAD can mow the lawn, powerwash the house. he can mop and clean. he can cook the best adobo you’ve ever tasted, ever seen. he waxes the car, biceps and forearms straining with the hallmark circular motion. a sedan speeds by, “eye of the tiger” blaring from its speakers, the seven-chord riff vibrating his arms, legs, ribs. he montages his life, fades from one crouched position to another, cuts to the sweat perennially on his brow from birth to now. but when is the big fight? when does he leap into the ring, the crowd cheering, his red gloves primed for punching? and who is he fighting?