How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents (Excerpt) comedy stories

funnyasiandude Actor, comic, author of How To American
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Excerpted from How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents by Jimmy O. Yang. Copyright ©2018. Available from Da Capo Press, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

One day, as if it was a sign from God, a Latino kid riding a BMX bicycle stopped by the bench I was sitting on. “Yo, you smoke weed?” he asked me.

My long hair signaled for weed dealers like the bat signal called for Batman. I said, “Yeah. You got some?” And he pulled out a joint.

“You smoke chewy?” I had no idea what chewy meant, but any weed would do at this point.

“Sure.” And we lit up the joint right there in the park. After a couple of hits, I started coughing like a real amateur. “Oh man, this is strong.”

“You never smoked chewy before, huh?” “No, I don’t think so. What is it?” “It’s weed with cocaine sprinkled on it.”

My eyes went wide. I’m sure it was a combination of shock and the cocaine coursing down my bloodstream. He made cocaine sound like an ice cream topping.

I had never done coke before, and I’d just smoked it in a joint with a random dude on a bicycle in a park across from my dad’s retiree apartment. I panicked. “I got to go.”

I got up and speed-walked home in an effort to sober up.

I couldn’t throw up something I’d smoked, and I couldn’t water it down either, so I just lay in my bed with my heart pounding like Floyd Mayweather hitting a speed bag.

I didn’t know what a panic attack was at the time; I thought I was having a full-blown heart attack. My dad was watching TV in his bedroom, no idea his son just smoked a cocaine-laced joint.

I had a decision to make. Should I wait it out and hope my heart doesn’t blow out of my chest? Or should I tell my dad I did some cocaine so he can take me to the hospital?

The first choice could mean death; the second choice would come with a lifetime of shame.

As a proper Asian man, I chose death over shame.

I hopped into the shower to try to calm myself down. I took a forty-five-minute shower, twice, and my heart was still jumping out of my throat.

I lay down on the couch and turned on SportsCenter on ESPN.

The familiar voices of Stan Verrett and Neil Everett eased my panic and I started to dose off. I gave myself a fifty-fifty chance of waking up, scared to my core that I’d sleep forever.

When I did manage to wake up the next morning, I wasn’t sure if I was still living or I had gone to hell where the TV is permanently stuck on ESPN.

Actually, I could argue that’d be heaven for me.

I started praying to Jesus after this near-death experience. “Lord, thank you for saving me from smoking chewy—that’s a joint laced with cocaine, in case you’ve never heard of that.”

I felt my life going down an even steeper spiral. When I went back to school, I spent most of my sophomore year locked inside of my room

trying to not die again

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