Uh-oh. You forgot to buy your Asian Friend a Christmas present. You didn't realize until recently that your Asian Friend even celebrated Christmas. You're really learning a lot about your friend...and yourself.
Take a moment to sit down and think about your Asian Friend. What does he like? How do you spend your time with him, usually?
You have noticed that your Asian Friend tends to get turned around kind of easily. He never quite gets "lost," per se, but you've seen how he has a hard time orienting himself. He's always walking down the street with his phone, his Google Maps app arrowing blipping brightly. Weird that your Asian Friend does not have this mathematical mind that guides him—weirder that you underestimate his capacity for stupidity.
Luckily, you and your Asian Friend live in a major city (mostly) laid out on a grid, so really, all he needs is something to quickly tell him which way is which when he step out of the subway.
A Compass ($7)
Get him a compass, the original Google Maps. Does not require a cell signal or battery. This one from Coleman—those guys who make camping gear—is no frills and doesn't look like a stupid pocket watch.
Oh yeah! Your Asian Friend got a new job recently. You remember he was so thrilled when he told you. He didn't have a job there for a little bit, which you thought was strange. You remember that he interviewed for a lot of jobs, all ones you figured he was going to get, but didn't. You just kind of assumed your Asian Friend has never really had a hard time finding work. Maybe you should get him something that says, "Congrats! I'm happy for you!"
A Make-Your-Own Gin kit ($70)
Your Asian Friend loves gin, you've noticed. He'll love this kit to make his own. He doesn't like dark liquors so much because of that one time in college you had to walk him up the stairs to his apartment and put him to bed on the cold, hard floor of his bedroom because he was dizzy and the floor, he said, "doesn't move." Actually, it's funny how much your Asian Friend drinks. His face always looks so red after one drink. He told you it's a dumb biological condition that makes it a little harder for his body to process alcohol than you. Weird he always drinks you under the table.
Your Asian Friend gets stressed out. He works long hours (he has that new job and all). Sometimes longer and more often than you. He sure seems motivated to do well. He really resents you calling him a "workaholic," because that is a television show and no one wants to be solely defined by what they do for a living? He doesn't understand why caring about his job (more than you, by the way, who hasn't been promoted in years) makes him a soulless careerist.
A White Noise Machine ($43)
He needs a white noise machine to help him get to sleep at night. A full, restful night of sleep is a great gift to give. Maybe if he isn't feeling as tired from a long day of work he'll have more time to hang out with you, who has all this time on their hands.
What TV shows does your Asian Friend watch again? He keeps talking about some Danish political thriller...
Borgen Complete Series on DVD ($85)
Borgen. He keeps telling you how his other friends keep telling him to watch this show, because it's "so, so, so good." Three "so's!" Sometimes, when your Asian Friend asks you to go to the movies with him, and wants to see period dramas and that one where Julianne Moore has Alzheimer's, you find yourself fascinated by his taste. It's just so interesting he could like boring white people shit, too.
Whenever you ask your Asian Friend where he wants to eat out, he almost always tells you, "Tacos." One time you asked him where you could get good dim sum, and he only replied by arching his eyebrow, as if to communicate, "Are you fucking kidding me?" And then you didn't ask him again.
Tomatillo Salsa ($18)
Your Asian Friend always assesses the quality of a Mexican restaurant by how much punch their house salsa has. His favorite, he told you over enchiladas, is tomatillo salsa, because it pairs well with more food. (He told you once to try in on scrambled eggs, and you thought he was crazy, but then you tried it and loved it.) Buy him a jar and a bag of tortilla chips.
When you're catching up with your Asian Friend, your conversation eventually leads to your mutual travails in the dating scene, and you will admit, that sometimes, you're surprised by your Asian Friend's dating life and how active it is (read: at all). It's not hard, but also not exactly easy, to think of your Asian Friend as a sexual organism.
Condoms ($16 for 60)
Buy him some condoms. Just like, any? It's all about the sentiment, remember—the sentiment that you do not think of your Asian Friend, also a human being, as a feckless, asexual nub. Because your Asian Friend has a tricker time dating than you do, white man. He does not have centuries of popular media to codify that he can be attractive. In fact, if you ask your Asian Friend in a vulnerable moment, he might admit that having grown up with strong-jawed, slick-haired white men being idolized as the sexiest men alive, he does not immediately think of himself as attractive. He might tell you, when he closes his eyes, and thinks about what an attractive man looks like, the first image is never someone who looks like him. It's not the second or third, either.
If he thinks this, what must his potential dates be thinking? Actually, there's a good chance they aren't even considering him at all. This is not a cross your Asian Friend bears. He generally doesn't ever think about it—do you walk around thinking very hard about your whiteness? Of course not. But every so often, and just often enough that it keeps the wound fresh, he's subconsciously reminded (sometimes by you) that he is different, and that's genuinely more painful than any one person's explicit, articulated rejection. Happy Holidays!
[Art by Jim Cooke]