Pretty Frames + Hapa Boys

If I don’t wear eye make-up I look like a block of tofu with hair. That is not a compliment. Luckily I am a big fan of eye make-up so I rarely look like the food I love to eat.

My husband is that most unusual of creatures: a hirsute Japanese man. He has a full beard and a mildly hairy chest. I like it. A lot. He looks like the ubiquitous indigenous person: wherever we go locals assume he’s one of theirs. Nepali? Tibetan? Mexican? Indian? Hawaiian? Thai? Native American Indian? Peruvian? He always answers “yes.”

During our time in Kathmandu I bought the traditional green glass bead necklace which indicates “married.” To me it was a beautiful necklace but as I wore it when I was out and about with him everyone assumed Blondie’d married a local. He loved it and I kept on smiling.


He is the Woody Allen of Japanese: a self-hating Japanese. When we go back to the Nut Hut he puts on a thick American accent and loudly speaks English. That leaves me to do all the pera-peraing (speaking in Japanese). Since I’m the blue-eyed blonde everyone compliments my Japanese (which at this point is less than so-so), and that works out great because I love hearing that I’m making sense!

(In Vietnamese, Nhật Bản is the word for “Japan”: you just use Nhật and then the [Viet] word for “food,” “person,” “language,” etc. to indicate “Japanese.” It sounds like /nyut/, which with my Valley Girl accent I colloquialized to /nut/. My boyfriend while I lived in Hanoi was Japanese, so I called him and his cohorts “The Nuts.” In Japanese [the language], the name of the country sounds like Nihon, but the /h/ has some lip in it, which is why in the olden days it was written as Nippon. From Nippon you can easily hear how Nhật Bản came to be.)

In reality he developed a slight surfer dude accent which is truly ironic as he is not comfortable in the water, not at all a strong swimmer. I am a water baby. I have been so proud of him for literally, at times, jumping in with me to various bodies of water even with his discomfort. I’d’ve been happy to swim / snorkel / float solo, but he wants to be with me.

He eats nearly all noodle dishes with chopsticks, including spaghetti with (vegan) meatballs. He also prefers to eat salad with chopsticks and we’ve even espied him eating cereal with chopsticks. Cereal with chopsticks! Have you ever?

Our children are what is called hapa. It now means part-Asian part-other. It’s borrowed from the Hawaiian hapa haole, which means half-white half-Hawaiian, but the hapa (as in part-Asian part-other) community appropriated it back in the late 1980s, I think. The old term, “Eurasian,” is now considered an epithet and highly offensive.


Our eldest child is more ha than pa, which is gibberish but a popular joke chez nous. He is definitely more Asian than Caucasian. He has my pinky toe so I know he’s mine. He also likes sweets so I really know he’s mine. He was born without any freckles or birthmarks, and he is so excited whenever he develops a new freckle; I think he’s up to thirteen.

Our youngest is more pa than ha. He was born a towhead with blue eyes, but the eyes quickly changed to brown and his hair is now a light brown. It’s also long and has huge sinuous curls. The curls make no sense because his daddy is Japanese, after all! His eyes are big and round and strangers never think he’s Asian.

Today I picked up my new reading glasses – middle-age, mine eyes. The optometrist I go to is in a hip and posh area of town (they take our insurance, have a terrific selection of frames and parking is always easy), and working in it are a bunch of young attractive people. One in particular I noticed as he made me think both of my sons and a previous paramour. A gorgeous young man with intricate tattoos and other accoutrements which made me make assumptions about him. He’s a bad-ass. He’s judgmental. He’s rough. He’ll think I’m an uncool old woman. Whatever.

Wouldn’t you know he was the one who helped me look at frames.

Here’re the assumptions I hadn’t made about him: he’s lovely. He’s thoughtful. He’s gentle. He’s sensitive. He has an open heart. He has a hurt heart. When he asked me for what I was looking in a frame I answered simply: “pretty.” He introspectively smiled and got right to work. I wasn’t gum on the bottom of his shoe: I was me. He saw me. I could feel he saw ME. Sometimes I forget to truly see ME, to embrace ME. I love me, am my own favorite person, find myself the most interesting person I know, but I get caught up in the daily minutiae and fall prey to insecurities. It’s so stupid because I am more than all that. I wish I didn’t lose sight of what makes me ME and how much I love, like, admire and respect myself.

His facial structure reminded me a bit of Big Angel, albeit a more Caucasian version. It turns out this sweet young man’s father is hapa (half-Hawaiian, half-Caucasian), which would also make him hapa.

His (tattoo) sleeves reminded me of my soon-to-be twenty-four year-old nephew, much of whose body (at least what I’ve seen) is magnificently, intricately, colorfully inked. I told this young man that he reminded me of two boys I love (son and nephew), and then I listened to him quietly, painfully tell me about himself.

So each time I’ve gone back to the office to check on frame color and then this morning to pick them up I’ve made sure to go in while he’s there. I really liked this boy and what he made me think and reevaluate, both in terms of remembering ME but also my snap judgment of him.

Today I picked up the frames and am wearing them right now. I hope I am able to associate the warm fuzzy of this young man with these frames so when I put them on I’ll think of him and his internal + external beauty.

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