Meeting Someone From History

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Meeting Someone From History

Panel 1

[Image] A woman wearing a crown, resembling Queen Victoria with her arms crossed. She is looking at an Asian man with glasses. Two large men in Victorian dress approach the Asian man threateningly.

[Caption] Queen Victoria?

Victoria: Who is this Oriental? Get him out of here?

Panel 2

[Image] A white man with a large nose looking at the same Asian man. Two large men with bats approach the Asian man, who is motioning to turn away.

[Caption] Any historical Prime Minister?

Prime Minister: Who let this chinaman out? Send him back to the railroads!

Panel 3

[Image] A man resembling Chairman Mao pointing at the Asian Man with glasses. The Asian man is running away from two nondescript men chasing him.

[Caption] Chairman Mao?

Mao: [in Chinese, translated to English] Catch that bourgeois traitor!

Panel 4

[Image] The Asian Man sitting at a table with six other people. His arms are crossed, and he looks angry. The person directly across the table from him (Person 1) is smiling. Behind the table is a banner reading “Team Building Day”

Asian Man: Ya, I’m not really enjoying this “choose a historical figure to meet” game…

Person 1: But you’re Chinese-Canadian, you have so much history!

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A little while ago at work, as an “ice-breaking exercise”, I was asked to pick any three people from history who I would invite to a party.

Seems innocuous enough right?  Ok, now here’s another piece of information: I’m Chinese Canadian.

Why does that change anything, you ask.  Think about it: who in history is going to swing forward in time, take one look at me, and not immediately hate me?  My best-case scenario involves my invitee sending me to work on a railroad!   The worst case is outright slavery (ok granted the railroad wasn’t much better than slavery, but you see my point).

Let’s see, Queen Victoria was a popular pick.  Hmmm….I hardly think the most colonizing monarch in British history is going to help me here.  Ok, Shakespeare is another big winner in this game.  Most likely I’d end up in a Caliban-like play, or on display as a bear-baiter (shudder).  How about someone nicer?  Let’s try Jane Austen?  Oscar Wilde?  Or someone more modern?  Churchill, perhaps.  Ok Austen would probably ignore me – admittedly the best response so far – Wilde would try to get me to smuggle fetishized “exotic” items from the so-called Orient, and Churchill would probably mistake me for Japanese.

Even if I try to invite someone from my own heritage, I’m screwed.   I’m Canadian, educated, in an office job.  So Mao-Tse Tung wouldn’t be my biggest fan.   Ok, so let’s try Ancient China.  One problem there:  I don’t speak any Chinese!!!   I’m fourth-generation Canadian.  I speak English and French goddammit!

Off with his head!

Oh, and I come from farmer stock.  Because you know, life for the ancient Chinese farmer (hell, the current Chinese farmer!) is so hunky dory.

In the end, I picked Salvadore Dali.  I figure this: either he turns out to be racist, and he’s Dali.  Or he’s surprisingly enlightened about matters of race, because he’s Dali.  Either way, he’s fucking Dali.

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