Failure to launch

I lost the gene lottery in my family and got all the stupid that everyone else’s bodies rejected. 

While relatives were graduating at the top of their class and graduating with degrees in biology, engineering and law, I was daydreaming about food and that special someone who would sweep me off my feet and ride into the sunset with. Or at least ride into a different state. 

My parents expected me to be a doctor or an engineer and also expected me to be a savant when it came to playing the piano. I should’ve worn a sign that read: ‘Yes, I’m Asian, but I suck at math. Don’t ask questions.’ It would’ve helped me out of a lot of situations. 

As for the piano thing, I was good, but could’ve been so much better. It didn’t help that I was lazy and hated to practice and wanted to rock out to Guns ‘N Roses instead of Gershwin. 

Early on in grade school, when it came to playing math games or science projects, people clamored to be in my group thinking that I’d be their ticket to an easy A. They quickly realized their mistake when I could barely do basic math equations in my head and got Fahrenheit and Celsius confused. Constantly.

Suddenly, I was the one kid in class that no one wanted in study groups and teachers were always making groups ‘make room’ for me. 

I’m sure my parents scratched their heads and wondered how the fuck they got stuck with a non-brainiac like me. 

I was the black sheep in our family.

It got worse when I went off to college. The story of my life.

Kids – don’t let your engineer father choose all computer, science and math courses for your college courses. Just don’t. It will lead to self-destruction and many nights with a pint or two of Ben and Jerry’s in your hand.

As I sat in my physics class, overwhelmed with formulas, numbers and questions on how to use my fancy calculator, there was nothing to do, but stare at the gorgeous blonde-haired boy who sat in front of me. Fred.

Fred reminded me of Rolfe from the Sound of Music in that non-Nazi Germany sort of way. I was waiting for the two of us to break into song in the middle of the professor’s lecture on kinematics and Newton’s Law.

Fred would hold my hand and I would ride on the handlebars of his bike and . . . shit. What was the formula for gravitational potential energy again?

As the semester continued, it became clearer and clearer to me that my brain was meant for other things. Definitely not science. Definitely not math. 

But I stayed in the class because of Fred. 

He once asked me if he could borrow my calculator. If that wasn’t a sign of fate. . .

For two straight weeks, I sat with my study group and studied for the physics final. It dawned on me then that I had no clue as to what had happened the past few months in class. No amount of punching keys randomly on my calculator or staring at the whiteboard was going to save me.

I saw Fred at the library the night before the final. No words were spoken. He just stared at me while I ran into the copy machine and dropped all the books I was carrying. Another sign.

Things were going to be okay. I was going to be okay.

I couldn’t decide if I should start crying or if I should study more. I went to sleep instead because that’s how problems are solved.

The next morning, I sat in my chair, the physics final in front me. Everything looked foreign to me. Numbers, symbols, words – nothing translated in my brain. Even when I went to write my name, I screwed that up. I’d written ‘Frhana’ because I was thinking about Fred.


I dashed a bunch of numbers on the pages and wrote a lot of bullshit. I sat in my chair until five people handed their finals in. That was a good time to get up and escape. When I turned in my test, the professor quickly flipped through it and looked at me like I was an idiot. He was right.

“Are you even in this class?” he asked.

I nodded my head slowly and as he asked me to stay after class after everyone was done taking the test, I ran out of the room instead, tears streaming down my face. There was Fred, leaning against a wall, talking with one of the girls in my study group, his head shaking as I ran by.

I got an F in the class. My college career was a series of peaks and valleys, mainly valleys, but I try not dwell on that. And I found out Fred couldn’t even sing very well.

He and I were never meant to be.



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