1. It wasn’t until Anna Nicole Smith died that I learned how to correctly pronounce “executor,” as in executor of the will. I had been saying it like, “execute-tor,” like Skeletor. I don’t know any other -tor suffixes, but if I did, I would list them here. Also, I found out that the statue of limitations and the statute of limitations are two different things. The statue of limitations is headless.
2. In the fifth grade, several branches of a Christian group called YWAM (Youth with a Mission) would visit our parochial school. They would sing Christian songs and accompany it with a dance routine. When American sect visited during assembly, one guy introduced himself by saying, “Hi. I’m John. I’m Korean and I’m from L.A.” My whole pew busted out laughing because until then, the only Koreans we had ever known were from Seoul, not South Central. Koreans not from Korea? Whaaa? They don’t exist! That was so absurd, it made our poor geographically ignorant selves hysterical. Sometimes, I wonder what it must have been like for John to be in front of giggling elementary school kids, trying to figure out what was so funny.
3. In the eighth grade, I joined my school’s MathCounts, not because I qualified, but because my coach was too nice to point out that they looked down on counting on your fingers. Besides, the Korean kids knew everything. They were drafting blueprints for nukes when I was writing one-act plays for my Barbies. During the final round of the state competition, the smart ones went on stage while my friend Sara and I waited in the audience. When the answer was announced bellowed to each other, “See, I told you!”
4. My relationships with gay men have only been fleeting, like at the hair salon or the time when my friend Odawni forgot that I was coming over and instead, three gay guys let me into her building and said, “Come on in giiirl!” I have this idea that I am not fabulous enough for gay men. I will never be a gay man’s Grace. That is not being homophobic, that is gay men being mona-phobic. I’m a mona-rity! Where’s my parade?
5. If there’s one thing I hope Nathan does not inherit from me, it’s my inability to perform math. In second grade, I discovered that if I faked a stomachache, I could sit in the nurse’s office long enough to skip over the dirty part of the day devoted to long division. And because I was feigning a stomachache and not an epileptic seizure (which is what my break-dancing looks like), no alarms sounded and I could relax on the paper-lined bed until I returned to class. This brilliant scheme to usurp Mrs. Miller’s authority worked until my dad opened up a parent’s note and I never saw the inside of the nurse’s office again.
6. In the fifth grade, my teacher and her teacher friend in Kentucky orchestrated a trans-Pacific penpal program between the two classes. I received a letter from Andrea, a country girl who loved Garth Brook and horses. She wrote, “Do you like the SHOWER?” The question stumped me. Why did she put “shower” in all caps? Was there a deep abiding love for hygiene and general cleanliness in Kentucky? Or maybe the shower was a hangout spot, like the skating rink or the movie theater. After a week of formulating a perfect answer, I finally wrote back, “I don’t know the ‘SHOWER.'”
Her reply arrived weeks later and sealed my fate as the worst representative of Saipan ever, “Dear Mona, I asked you if you like the show E.R. Are you really that stupid or do you have to go to a special
class hut for that.”