Eliana Osborn

Eliana Osborn is a mother of two, wife of one, who works part-time as an English professor at Arizona Western College. She is an essayist and fiction writer whose work has been featured in Blood and Thunder, Dash, Segullah, and many other journals. She has commercial work in venues including the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and many others. She’s at work on her first novel about the Chinese-Mexican population on the US-Mexico border.


Turning Japanese

When his mother became a Jehovah’s Witness she gave up her Buddhism, then everything about being Japanese. There were no more chopsticks in the house; macaroni in a blue box instead of soft formed squares of udon. Pictures of a blonde Jesus instead of an ancestral shrine. They wore shoes inside, sat on straight backed chairs at the dinner table.

He was forbidden from saying gaijin, even if it was true. By the time he left for college his middle name, Mori, was just an oddity from the past. His mother had dropped it and went by Kathy Morris.

His father was dead, his mother a math professor. He was stranded with straight black hair, student loans, and a neighbor who wanted him to join the Asian American Student Association. He made up excuses but she kept dropping by.

“This is how you network Nolan. You meet some people, spend time with them, then when you’re looking for a job after grad school you have connections. You can’t trust outsiders with your future—in AASA the alumni look out for us.”

The next week she brought some Japanese girls with her. One was short and round with bangs cut too short, leaving an inch of forehead above her glasses. Another was shorter still and wearing a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt.

Nolan raised his eyebrows, wondering how this group of three awkward Asians could possibly be the best and brightest, the thing that kept America running ahead of the rest of the world.

Mickey Mouse giggled when he said ohaiyo but wouldn’t explain why. Bad Bangs stuck out her hand formally and gave a surprisingly strong shake.

“Melissa Kazuko, glad to meet you.” She nodded and stood back at attention waiting for the interview to begin.

“So why don’t you want to join the association? I don’t get it.” Melissa stared right at him. He tried to keep her gaze but finally looked away and made busy work adjusting the band of his watch.

“No-lan,” his neighbor began in that disturbing southern drawl, “we need you. The dances are so bad right now, you don’t even know. Everyone told me college would be different, that boys wouldn’t be scared of smart girls. But there’s five times the number of girls as boys among us Asians. I had to dance with some Hmong guy for every slow song at homecoming. All he could talk about was his parents on some boat. Hello? This is supposed to be romantic?”

He considered what it would be like to date an Asian girl for once. Or even better, to be in a club with desperate women.

“I’ll do it.”

There was a stunned silence then Mickey Mouse giggled and covered her mouth. The neighbor smiled broadly while Melissa simply nodded her head, turned, and walked away.

Nolan felt a twinge in his groin and wondered if maybe he liked girls with bangs. He’d have to pay closer attention now that he had options.

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