Guy Talk With The Fung Brothers : The Asian Dating Scene

Story by Paul Nakayama. Photo by Daniel Nguyen Photography. 

Recently, an Asian guy friend of mine handed me a Scotch and proceeded to ask me for an introduction to a girl — any girl. I didn’t know what to say, so I downed the whiskey and got drunk. It wasn’t what he asked, but how he asked it. His level of despair prompted me to consult outside help. So I sat down with David and Andrew Fung, also known as the Fung Brothers, the popular YouTube entertainers with a unique perspective on all things Asian, to get some tips on how to help a single Asian brother out.


Q: You guys grew up in Kent, Wash. What was that like?
David Fung: Growing up, there weren’t that many Asians in our area. We always sort of felt like the “Others” in our school. A lot of Asians that grow up around Asians are comfortable, and they don’t think about being Asian. But where we were, there were a lot of tough questions that people posed to us. Our high school was really into sports, so we got involved in leadership roles in sports. That was good training to put ourselves out there, but it put us in an environment where we got made fun of. We were trying to be the cool kids, but sometimes we weren’t accepted.

Q: So what was dating like in high school?
Andrew Fung: It was pretty hard to date. I mean, just to put it in perspective, we were at a school where some guys wore cowboy hats to school.

Q: But once you got to college …
AF: Yeah, UDub [University of Washington] is like 30 to 40 percent Asian so we made the most of it. We could exercise our talents, and it was easier to be considered cool.

Q: By college, you were already performing comedy. Did that help the dating scene?
AF: A lot of girls liked it, but they also assumed we were players. That’s kind of the life of an Asian American entertainer. A lot of us aren’t players. We weren’t raised like that, but people think that’s what entertainers do.

Q: What about dating after college? You’re in L.A. now, after all.
AF: Dating after college is much harder. This is a message to guys: If you cannot date in college, you are going to have an even harder time after college. It’s like camp. If you can’t meet people at camp, then … yeah.

Q: [Laughing, maybe a little too awkwardly] So, what’s a good strategy for the Asian 40-year-old virgin? And I don’t mean me. Purely hypothetical, guys.
DF: We know guys like that — dudes that don’t meet a lot of girls. Bottom line: Get rid of the self-defeating attitude. We all deal with whatever factors leading to less confidence, like our culture, parents, whatever legitimate excuses that only work in a vacuum. At some point you gotta step up and take responsibility.

Q: We’ve all heard that Asian men have a disadvantage in dating. True, or is it more about the attitude we come in with?
DF: Me and Andrew played varsity basketball at a high school where people on our teams went to the NBA. Can you imagine two short, nerdy Asian kids being raised in a system where everyone’s got NBA dreams? But it never made me think that I shouldn’t try out for the team or play against these guys. You have to have the same mentality in other aspects of your life.
AF: I feel like as an Asian guy in America, if you stand up knowing what people think about you and say, “Yeah, I am like that and I’m proud,” people will respect you more, and you’ll probably get more women that way.
DF: Like if they think Asian guys are gross, you say, “Yeah, I am gross. I am a little gross. There!”
AF: And some women will be like, “Hey, that’s a strong man.” Women like confidence. Turn that negative into a positive. Gotta learn to play the cards you got.

Q: What about guys helping each other out? Being a good wingman and all.
DF: In the Asian scene, the wingman thing isn’t as sophisticated as it is with white or black guys.
AF: For sure. I heard this story about some Asian friends at a party, and it turned out they had all talked to the same girl and asked her the same exact questions and all asked her out for the same week. Ridiculous. No strategy or defining of roles. Asian guys are still figuring it out, and it makes sense ’cause none of our dads did any of that. With other races, someone will pass on some knowledge about how to talk to girls.
DF: Yeah, there’s no teamwork. In football, there are guys on the team whose only job is to block. With Asians, because we’re taught to “achieve, achieve, achieve,” everyone thinks he’s the quarterback. You can’t win with a team of just quarterbacks.

Q: As brothers, you probably have a better system than most. Hand signals, bird calls, a Venn diagram.
DF: It’s all about being on the same page. Everyone has to know the game plan. But to be clear, I don’t wanna misconstrue what we’re talking about here.
AF: Right, it’s not about getting laid. It’s more about meeting people successfully and making sure everyone can have a good time.
DF: And not have everyone immediately placed in the friend zone. A good wingman will make sure that everyone’s got a drink in their hand and is talking. And never interrupt a conversation with anything other than more drinks, not even compliments, because unless you know how to do it without coming off douchey, you’ll be blocking the quarterback.

For more of David and Andrew’s tips, visit FungBrothers.com.

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Throwback Thursday: Is Dating A Co-Worker A Good Idea?

Story by by Paul Nakayama and Naomi Fujimoto.

Is workplace “commingling” a good idea? Guest columnist Naomi Fujimoto says all’s fair in love and work, but Paul Nakayama wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot laser pointer.

NAOMI SAYS:

Workplace dating is the stuff of great drama. Glee and Grey’s Anatomy — where would they be without it? And what about The Office — the shrugging, the fumbling, the knowing glances? Even on 24, with the fate of the world in question, they still found time for love. All in a day’s work. But enough about TV. I’m real-life proof that you can get your honey where you get your money.

Whether you’re looking at each other over an operating table or a corporate cube, your co-workers see you at your best and your not so best. You see how they deal with stress and relate to other people. And whether they can follow through. In the workplace, people are themselves. Sober. Decent. Good relationship material. (If you’re just looking for a hookup, stay away from your nine-to-five crowd. Sleeping your way to the middle is a bad idea.)

I’m Japanese and an editor, so it won’t be revealing much to say that I love rules. I love that they help me figure out how people will act at work — and, possibly, outside of work. While I can’t say that every girl wants a hero, I like a guy with good problem-solving skills. Responding to an IT “code blue,” Sean had a confident walk that made him look like he could handle anything. Including me. I had to find out whether he was a MacGyver or a MacGruber.

Our romance started small, tiny even, as workplace entanglements often do. When he stopped by just to say hi or lingered in the hallway, my office mates noticed. One day we went to lunch (Asian fusion, natch). Soon I saw that he could troubleshoot my Mac and share his fries. This unofficial stuff paved the way for our office courtship. Pre-dating can last weeks (if you’re lucky) or years (if you’re me). With all the visits and lunches and hallway conversations, this face time will further your status more than Facebook. Same with those happy hours, where your guy can put his hand on your back to help you throw darts.

Ah, the happy hour. As long as you’re not a boozer or a bimbo, the happy hour is your friend, the one that encourages you and your work buddy to pair off. Enjoy it! But here’s where I’ll come back to the rules again. Keep it rated PG! When you think “workplace grind,” visualize your efforts on a big project, not on the dance floor. (For real. My friend had to see her co-worker dirty dance at the company party. Ew.) Your office friends will be happy for you, but you don’t need to flaunt how in lust you are. Chances are, they noticed the chemistry before you did. They are, after all, people who see you 40-plus hours a week.

Sure, you could meet someone online or in a bar or through a setup. Or you can sit back and see what happens with that guy you always go to lunch with. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Or maybe it will go somewhere for just a few months, like it did for Sean and me. We broke up recently, and the vibe at lunch has changed. No regrets, though. He was a MacGyver — just not mine.

My awful truth? Workplace dating might seem inexcusable or irresponsible, but it’s also irresistible. If you’re willing to risk a few awkward moments in the elevator, give it a try.

PAUL SAYS:

Imagine an adorable bear cub playing with a ball; you can’t help but fawn over it. You approach, unable to stop yourself from petting it. It coos as your hand approaches its face. It is so darn cute! Then suddenly, the cub growls and bares its fangs and mauls your pretty hand into meat strings. You scream and panic, stumbling over your dumb self as you try to escape, but then you realize that you’re locked in a cage. You slap your forehead with what’s left of your hand and curse your own foolishness as that once cuddly bear cub leaps onto your back and takes you down. It’s a horrible tale, I know, and yet so many befall the same fate, except instead of loving a cute but vicious animal, it’s dating a co-worker.

As my warm little analogy illustrates, dating a co-worker is a dangerous proposition. Think about how many of your exes were brutish, annoying or clingy. You sighed constantly with deep relief when things ended. Now, think about the good ones you’ve had. In an office setting, what are the real odds that you’d meet one of the few good ones and none of the horrible trolls?

Imagine walking to the copy room and running into your ex, the bipolar one who’d refer to himself as “we.” And they’re demanding, “Why did you leave us? Why why why? (And are you done with the copier, skank?)” That would certainly be a good time to run away, but oh, that’s right — you can’t because you work together.

Breakups are manageable when you have space or at least an escape route. Not possible with an office tryst. Or what if it was your heart that was broken? During the Halloween party, you hook up with that longtime crush of yours from accounting, only to discover later he was boofing everyone. Work is miserable enough as it is without having to see some douche bag’s face every five days out of seven. Eventually, you’ll see him hitting on someone new at the office, repeating the same coaxing lines. Your fists will be clenched in anger, and your poor laptop will “accidentally fall down some stairs.” I can’t even begin to warn you against the dangers of being around the open bar at the company holiday party … you’ll be fondly remembered as the drunken mess that flung cheese at everyone like it was poo, all while sobbing openly like a Bieber groupie.

I get why office romances happen. The fact is, it’s hard meeting people after college, and you spend more time with co-workers than your best friends. Things happen. And there are plenty of examples of people finding real love in the office. So why not, right? Well, there’s more to lose in an office romance. These things often end poorly, and you’ll only succeed in making your sucky job even suckier. I’ve been in one or two myself that ended in less than desirable ways where the consolation prize is a giant bag of awkward. In this economy, I think it’s better to have a job than a chance at love, the same chance I could take at my other usual hangouts: the karaoke bar, the 7-Eleven or my parkour club. Because looking for love in the office is a man-eating baby bear that will devour your heart, and it’s just common sense not to wrestle bears.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2010 issue. Get your copy here

Guy Talk With Michael Yo: Dating As A ‘Blasian’

Story by Paul Nakayama 

This column used to be called The Awful Truth because dating advice can be exactly that. After watching the impossibly racist “music” video “Asian Girlz” by the band Day Above Ground (aptly named since they must’ve been living under a rock), I think the awful truth is that some people just plain suck. But the other side of it is that interracial relations, especially dating, can be a complicated issue. I recently had a chat with comedian and co-host of CBS’ OMG! The Insider, Michael Yo, self-proclaimed “Half-Black Brother with a Korean Mother,” to talk about growing up in an interracial family and his dating experiences.

Q. Where did you grow up?
Michael Yo: I grew up in Houston, Texas, in a predominantly white neighborhood. I was the only “Blasian” growing up. We didn’t even have the term “Blasian” back then. In my neighborhood, they never asked me, “What’s your ethnicity?” It was more like, “What are ya? I don’t understand what you are.”

Q. What were the race dynamics like in your neighborhood?
MY: I had white friends, and small sets of Asian and black friends. It’s weird. Back then, it’s like the stereotypes were kinda true. I was on the basketball team, which was mostly white kids, a couple of black kids and one Asian. You know, ‘cause the Asians were studying most of the time.

Q. What, but not you? You have an Asian mom and you weren’t locked in a dungeon to study?
MY: [Laughs]. My dad has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, and my mom never went to college. But my mom was always the one pushing me to study while my dad was the opposite. He was like, “School is not your thing.” My dad was very honest that way, and my mom hated to hear that. She was like other Asian moms, wanting to compare their kids to other kids. But she couldn’t brag about my grades. I was the dumb kid out of the whole group. But now, when they say, “My son doctor, my son lawyer,” she says, “Oh yeah? Turn on TV.”

Q. Being on TV, how does that help your game with dating? Inciden- tally, writing for a magazine has zero dating perks.
MY: I’m just a dude who interviews people. So it’s weird to get that kind of attention when you’re on the other side of the camera. The other day I was driving down the street, and this girl pulls up next to me screaming [high- pitched voice], “OMIGOD I love you!” And she almost wrecked her car. They know who you are, but you have no idea who they are. You have to go and find out about them.

Q. It’s similar to how people can stalk someone on Facebook before a date. How do you react to someone knowing so much about you?
MY: Here’s what I like about it: when they say, “I feel like I know you.” That’s like the biggest compliment to me. I’m OK with them not really knowing me, but for them to feel like they know me must mean they have some kind of connection with me.

Q. So, let’s talk about dating with your unique perspective as someone half-black and half-Asian.
MY: Dating is dating. Women are women. I would date anyone: black girls, white girls, Asian girls. With the white girls, you know, they didn’t know what I was, so their parents didn’t know which stereotypes to apply. I mean the biggest thing about dating a white girl is more about how their parents will react. You know, a lot of parents will say they’re not racist or they don’t care until you’re actually dating their daughter.

Q. Do you think this is true for all ethnicities or just the girls that were white?
MY: I can’t say for all the ethnicities, but my own experience with white girls, and it’s not all the time obviously, but there were times when a girl would say, “Oh, my parents will totally be fine.” And then we started dating, and her parents found out, and they weren’t cool. She never knew that side of her parents. And sometimes you experience a side of her parents that [the parents] are experiencing for the first time.

Q. That’s interesting. For me, my first girlfriend was white and her parents were very cool with me. It was actually some of the parents of my Chinese or Korean girlfriends that didn’t like that I was Japanese. I was either a pervert or a war criminal.
MY: You automatically get stereotyped no matter what ethnicity you are. I’m half-black and Asian so what do girls automatically ask? “Oh, so are you big or small?” I get put into a box all the time. It’s just a stereotype, and I get it.

Q. I’m full Asian, so my box sucks. What about your parents? Do they have a preference? For girls to date, I mean.
MY: My parents being interracial, they never cared who I dated. So I never felt that pressure, whereas I know a lot of Asian parents want their daughters to date someone Asian. Now, I’m older so they just want kids. My mom is all, “You have baby? You have baby?” That’s all she cares about. And I do want that. My parents have been married 40 years, so I know what I want, and that’s what makes it so hard to find the right one.

Q. It does take a while to find the right one.
MY: In your 20s, you’re all about hooking up. You don’t really care what they say. True story, I was walking on the beach with a girl, and she looked up and said, “Oh my God, look at the shooting star.” I look up, and it’s an airplane. But all I cared about was hooking up so I said, “Make a wish.” Now I actually care about content. In my 30s I care about what they’re doing, if they’re hungry for life, for a career. Now I want somebody that I can grow with.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelYo, or his website, MichaelYo.com.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.

Flashback Friday: The Truth About “Bromances”

Story by Paul Nakayama 

I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver where my writing partner and I celebrated New Year’s Eve. To quote our generation, it was epic. Now, judging from the photo (below), you might assume that we went there as lovers, or perhaps even newlyweds. But, no, dear readers, it is, in fact, a “bromance” of the highest caliber. For those of you who’ve never heard of a bromance, it’s defined as a very close, or homosocial, friendship between two straight men. You’ve all seen examples of a bromance through television shows like Scrubs and Friends or movies like I Love You, Man. There are even real world examples like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon or George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It’s a strong bond formed from common interests and long periods of time spent together. Hearing this, my editor was unsatisfied, or rather, still suspicious, and she demanded a better explanation. I took a look at the photo again, and I thought maybe it is in my best interest to provide a few insights into this new definition of brotherhood.

The concept of guy-love is lost on those who have never experienced it (so, men from older generations or women). It’s not weird or strange anymore to see men display their affections for their buds physically. I’ve seen grown, bearded men shove aside a fist bump request and instead firmly place their chest against another man’s chest. It’s strange and perhaps unnerving to them to see men platonically bond while throwing in the occasional hugs, butt-slaps and friendly wrestling. Whatever happened to the good ol’ days of stoic machismo, they wonder? Well, these days it’s cooler to be cool with man-love.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 2.57.54 PM

I remember one time in high school I spent the night at my best friend’s house once. His dad, an old- fashioned type, raised an eyebrow when we went into the hot tub to relax. When it was time to turn in, his dad seemed nervous about something, as if the fate of his son’s future rested on the events of this particular evening. He kept hanging around the room, which was a drag because we wanted to close the door and talk about girls. Finally, after long periods of pacing and internal debating, he looked at us and pointed at the bed. He stuttered, “You know, I don’t think the bed is big enough to hold both of you.”

What do you do when your dad, like many others, mistakes guy-love for gay love? It’s not like we were planning to share the bed, but we did what anyone would do when faced with an awkward opportunity to teach someone about tolerance. We went with it and antagonized the poor man. Arms around each other and a big grin on our faces, we said, “We’ll make it work.”

I thought some more on why bromances are so common these days. When did it all start? I wondered if it was somehow a natural progression from the emergence of the metrosexual man. I thought that the heavy use of high-end conditioner and facial moisturizer made our hearts as soft as our hair and skin. In all seriousness, though, single men these days are simply less concerned with the notion of being identified as gay than their fathers and grandfathers. If anything, I’ve seen bromances take pride in their ability to ride the razor’s edge of platonic and sexual. Take me, for instance. Whenever I get drunk, I tend to lift my brothers into the air a la Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. I’m not trying to cop a feel (usually); there’s just no better way to show a brother you love him than by doing a ballet lift together.

ad lucky strike holiday

Bromances aren’t just an American thing. I’ve witnessed and experienced it on many of my travels, like Anthony Bourdain, but instead of food, I sampled male bonding. In Brazil, I befriended a group of the tallest, largest men I’ve ever met, and when I had trouble wading through the packed crowds, one of them actually lifted me up above the people and placed me in front of the bathroom. I said to him, “Obrigado, my gentle giant. Obrigado.” (True story.) In Hong Kong, I spent several nights drinking with guys that simply liked me because I could hold my liquor. Imagine that — bonding with strangers over such a superficial reason, and yet we were inseparable for days. In Singapore, I saw a club full of guys perform a synchronized interpretative dance to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Actually, wait, that might’ve been a gay club; it was kind of confusing. Finally, in Korea, I saw men holding hands and kissing each other’s faces. Well, I wasn’t ready for the master class bromance, but you know, I just wanted to give you another example.

While most women comment that it’s “cute” to see men bond so closely, I’ve also had plenty of girls poke fun (with a hint of “what-the-eff” in their voices) at my bromances. When that happens, my buddies and I shrug it off because we know that it’s just jealousy. Now before I get angry letters from you (which I wouldn’t mind actually since it’s at least some evidence that someone is reading this), I’ll explain the source of the jealousy. It’s not uncommon for men these days to be more emotionally available to their man-mates than their actual girlfriends. There’s less emotional risk and you still get the satisfaction of catharsis. There’s no regard for what comes in the future; there’s only the enjoyment of the now. In other words, men can enjoy the intimacy of a long-lasting relationship without the dreaded “so-where-are-we-headed” talk. You combine that level of hassle-free friendship with man-dates that involve common interests in video games, sports, music and entertainment, and it’s not ironic that even the most commitment-phobic guys have at some point in their lives said to another guy: “Dude, if you were a girl, I’d marry you.”

Now, with the context I’ve given, does the above photo of me leaping into another man’s arms make more sense? Still weird, you say? Yes, there was alcohol involved at the time this was taken, but that’s not an excuse. There’s no need to make excuses for something as beautiful as the friendship of two men. If anything, I will fight like a Black Friday shopper to defend my right to be cradled in the arms of my best friends. It’s a great thing that the taboos of the past are being cast off to create a world where men are OK with showing feelings, affection and love. Why not have a world where men can accept and hug instead of front and fight? I think it’s awesome. Well, except for those really aggressive huggers that linger. That’s just awkward.

This story was originally published in our Spring 2012 issue. Get your copy here

After 10 Years of The Awful Truth: A Teachable Moment

COLUMNIST PAUL NAKAYAMA RUMINATES OVER HIS INABILITY TO FIND THE ONE WITHIN THE PAST DECADE AND COMES UP WITH A FEW PRACTICAL LOVE LESSONS.

 

It’s hard to believe, but this is my 10th year writing The Awful Truth. I joked around with my editor that I was probably the most veteran employee at the company.

“So,” she asked, “in a decade, what have you learned about relationships or love?”

I opened my mouth to answer and instead, changed the subject to sports. If I were going to be clueless in a conversation, it would at least be regarding something I didn’t care about. When I started working on this column, I was an idealistic 28-year-old. I thought I’d definitely be married with kids in a 10-year span. But one minute, I’m watching marathons of 24, and in the next, I’m effing 38.

So, I thought about it. Why didn’t it work out with some of the great loves of my life, or why haven’t I found The One? (And by The One, I don’t mean Keanu Reeves, though at this point it’s better than nothing.) I stared at a blank page on my laptop in hopes of writing out a clever answer. My head started to hurt, so instead I watched five seasons of Mad Men. You probably think that I’m single because I’m addicted to television. You’re not wrong, but there’s more to it.

Half procrastinating, half ruminating, I started organizing a bunch of names into columns as an exercise. Column A: Girls I liked. Column B: Girls who liked me. Column C: Girls from A and B that actually dated me. And in doing this, the answer revealed itself before me — like with dating, I was overthinking things.

I remember my friend telling me about how this girl had sent him a one-page letter from summer camp. Prepubescent boner on full alert, he promptly replied with a five-page gesture, full of wit and passion. She wrote back with another one-pager, saying mostly that camp sucks. This is pretty much the analogy for how I chased girls whom I thought I saw a chance with, seeing signs when there were none. In modern terms, it’s the same as texting a girl, getting a nebulous response a day later, and thinking, “She texted back … there’s a chance!”

Making a small thing seem like a big thing was my thing. I’d break up with girls that offended me in minor ways because I would think, “If she’s capable of that, what else is she gonna do to me?” For example, I called it off with this one girl because she made me eat a spoonful of mayo in front of my friends to prove my love for her. I did it to save her face, but oh, did I loathe her for that. Come to think of it, she made me eat the Devil’s seed, and I’m glad I dumped her.

As I get older, I realize I’ve become a little superstitious. I believe in jinxing myself. I’ve seen enough great opportunities go sour because I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about some girl and how we made a connection. You know, boasts that would end with “Well, I wouldn’t call her my girlfriend … yet.” And sure enough I never did. To me, luck is now a big part of whether it works out with someone. Even if she’s the right girl, it’s just good luck or bad luck as to whether you met her at the right time. So if luck is a factor, least I can do is shut the hell up and not jinx myself.

Another thing I used to do wrong was fall for girls for all the wrong reasons. Just because she can sing her ass off and give me goose bumps does not mean we’re meant to be. Otherwise I’d be in love with Mariah Carey, and she’s insane. Or just because she thinks video games are art and shares my opinion that “Bioshock” is a masterpiece of modern storytelling does not make her Mrs. Right, though technically it makes her right. Sadly, it wasn’t from self-realization, but rather Chloë Grace Moretz’s 12-year-old character in 500 Days of Summer that taught me that nugget of wisdom.

In writing this piece, I had a High Fidelity moment. I considered talking to all of my exes to suss out where things fell apart — you know, what the common thread of my failed relationships might be. But they’re all nice girls — too nice to call me a dick to my face — so I sat and thought on it. As you’ve already guessed, the common thread is me. If there’s any hope for this trend to end, it’s got to start with that. So, finally, the following is a list of things that have caused problems in the past that I will take to heart.

Be honest with how I feel. Not be jealous, or if I am, not be Real House- wives-y about it. Learn to enjoy her interests every now and then, unless she’s into S&M. Don’t dance unless there are strobe lights or it’s dark. Never dress up as Pocahontas ever again. Forcing a schedule on love seems to almost always ruin it, but taking it for granted is a slow death. Don’t be mean to girls who enjoy mayo; they’re people, too.

This story was originally published in the Summer ’13 issue of Audrey Magazine. Buy your copy here

 

 

Spring 2013 | The Market | The Awful Truth: I Screen, You Screen

DEPT The Market
Issue Spring 2013
Author Paul Nakayama

In an age where “check her out” means online and not from across the room, columnist Paul Nakayama wonders if internet pre-screening makes for better and more efficient dating.

A lot’s changed in the dating scene in the 10 years I’ve been with Audrey Magazine. I was recently re- minded of how much that is true when my editors asked me if guys also engaged in Internet stalking, particularly prior to going on a date. I remember this little website called Asian Avenue where all of a sudden there was this tremendous pool of girls you could potentially date. I say “potentially” because there’s also this little thing called probability and the chances are that more girls just mean more “no’s.” But back then, if you put a person’s name in a search field, you didn’t get much. Whatever a girl wanted you to know, she herself had to plant. It was a tenuous representation at best and a case of Catfish usually. I mean, if you wanted to see some photos, you usually had to sift through fuzzy misrepresentations that had a lot of shadows or a conspicuous amount of floor plants covering her face. Or maybe it was just me, and I just happened to get IM’ed by girls that admired the style of Bigfoot photos. These days, it’s a wholly different battlefield.

Continue reading

The Awful Truth: Gaming the System

Guest columnist actor Roger Fan and our very own Paul Nakayama weigh the benefits — and costs — of snaring a VGD (that’s “video game dude”).

ISSUE: Spring 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Roger Fan

Roger Says:

Romance does not have to be complicated. If you’re a single lady who is truly ready to embark upon a lifelong journey of happiness and genuine romantic affection with a guy who won’t Tiger Woods you, the answer is simpler than you think — get good at video games. Forget the diet, the tan, the hair extensions, the accent reduction courses, the exotic body glitter, the plastic surgery to get the double eyelids, etc. All that stuff is unnecessary. The only thing you need to do to snare that bloke who will forever treat you like a queen even when your crow’s feet sprout to the size of tree roots, is video game mastery. And don’t worry, you don’t need to get good at all the games. Just pick the top two or three most popular ones (currently “Uncharted 2,” “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” or “Bioshock 2”) and master them. I know this concept may seem rather confusing and perhaps alien. But sometimes a massive paradigm shift is necessary to right Occam’s razor of love and happiness. So grab a joystick ASAP and get ready to have your mind blown. It’s time to vacate any and all traditional hunting grounds of love and head on over to Best Buy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here just yet …

Don’t buy into the hype. I have worked in the entertainment industry for almost 14 years and I can say with clear conviction that my business is single-handedly responsible for creating a completely fictitious and utterly unobtainable idea of love, romance and relationships that most civilized ladies on earth mistaken as personal entitlement. Forget the Mr. Right Checklists. It’s all bunk and bull dookie; lies mistaken for gospel. I know it sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but if your primary checklist has stuff like tall, good-looking, athletic, smart, ambitious, successful, funny, businessman, lawyer, rich, etc., you are basically assembling a cocktail of personal misery mixed with a twist of heartache. Men with those dominant qualities will cheat on you the second you become boring and/or predictable. Here’s the truth — on the surface, true romance and genuine life partnership is rather unimpressive and sedate and more closely resembles the stillness of the American Gothic portrait rather than the vibrant flirtatious noise of a Michael Bublé music video. It’s time to stop being seductively misguided by all the bling and start focusing on the true love and happiness thing. Yes, I meant that to rhyme.

So let’s cut to the chase — get yourself a serious case of VGD. That’s right, a “Video Game Dude” (not some sort of funky medical condition). Cast your net in this pond and you’ll get what you’ve secretly been looking for since the day you first swiped an Oxy pad across your forehead. A VGD, you say? But aren’t they mostly pale, skinny chaps who live at home with moms and drink Grape Crush? Yes, but do not be alarmed. This is just the primary screening tool. Limit the pool to VGDs first, and then you can start sifting for your own personal gold. But why a VGD instead of the prototypical GQ? The answer is simple — Video Game Dudes have spent a life enveloped in a cocoon of social isolation and electronic fantasy, too scared and intimidated to explore and engage the human world. Find a way to connect with a VGD and he will gift you with eternal loyalty and forever worship you even when you mature into a raisin. One word of caution, however: Like any seabird just emerging from the trauma of an oil spill, a VGD may not exactly be impressive to the eye. But do not fret. They will do whatever you say. Style him and ask him to work out. He will not protest. In fact, give him a smile and a moist peck on his cheek and he’ll dive into a nest of hissing cobras without pause just because he loves you (eternally). So where do you find this VGD? Simple. Just go to your local Best Buy and troll around the gaming section. He’ll be that guy busy playing the new hot game at the demo kiosk. Like him? Good. Want to snare him? Be careful. These VGDs are delicate. They know that you’re there and are easily startled. Do not engage a VGD at a gaming kiosk in your traditional girly way. It’ll scare him and cause him to cry and run home to mom. Instead, waltz up to the kiosk, grab the vacant game controller and join in the second his avatar dies. Do not look him in the eye. Just casually say in a slightly commanding register, “Can I play?” He will not say no. Once he lays witness to your impressive gaming ability, even letting out a giggle or two in glee, he’ll strike up a conversation with you and look you in the eye. If that happens, congratulations, your mission is accomplished. The VGD is yours for life, just like when a Na’vi bonds its halu with the banshee for the very first time (that’s an Avatar reference, btw). So go forth now, young butterfly. Go snare yourself a VGD and embrace a life of infinite happiness and eternal love. If you require my further romantic assistance, please feel free to find me at YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily.com. Just know, I too was once a VGD …

Paul Says:

Knowing that Roger was once a VGD gives me great hope because he’s something of an industrial-strength chick magnet and I’m something of a full-power geek. And so it pains me that it’s my duty to provide a counterargument to his proposal, which left alone could convince some of his hot actress friends to go out with me, finally. But I’m a writer first and a lover second (but only because I was told to keep my day job). Truth is, and you’ll likely be really shocked by this, but we VGDs are not the incredible catches Roger makes us out to be.

Going after a VGD, especially by adopting his world, is a tremendous undertaking and one not to be taken lightly. Jumping in half-assed will result in that cheek getting slapped hard. You see, hot female celebrities recently figured out that playing video games or spouting sci-fi/fantasy trivia was a surefire way to access nerds and geeks, the undiscovered country for rapidly increasing fan base. G4’s Olivia Munn’s entire career is based on this simple tip. I’ll admit that even I googled the crap out of her. But now, every actress or model is trying to be geek chic, and it’s transparent and frankly a turn-off to VGDs everywhere. You will likely be called out on your facade by the denizens of the Web, kind of like how people post photos of bad plastic surgery, but more mortifying. Nobody likes a poser, unless said poser is totally into showing her boobs, in which case she can pose all she wants.

If you take Roger’s advice and truly begin training in video games, there are some physical changes you should come to expect. One, your neck will begin to stretch forward like a chicken as you attempt to focus on the TV screen. Two, you will find yourself involuntarily veering your body left and right as you control your game characters. Three, you will develop odd muscles around your fingers. Finally, you will find your mouth agape on a regular basis; I’d watch for stray insects and pools of collecting drool inside.

Now, if you actually happen to try video games and decide that you like it, I need to include some warnings about dating VGDs, as is my duty for the term of this column. While I simply adore girls that sincerely love video games, I have to say that dating a VGD isn’t as rosy as Roger would lead you to believe. Even as you play together, you should know that video games will be a direct competitor for your attention. A romantic dinner with the bird or playing 20 solid hours of the newly released “Final Fantasy XIII”? Oh, that’s a toughie. VGDs won’t cheat on you with another woman, but we will certainly cheat on you with a game. I’ve been known to sneak out of bed to squeeze in some extra game time. That’s the reason why we VGDs so closely studied Ross’ “hug & roll” technique on Friends.

When I played “Warcraft,” it was all my friends and I talked about during dinner. Now that I don’t mess with that crack, I realize it’s as fun to talk about as calculus. For the newly initiated, general video game talk will have the same effect. It will also likely reduce your libido in the same way anti-depressants work. Of course, once you’re fully converted, you’ll be unable to have normal conversations with non-gamers. You’ll even begin to interject gamer-speak, which is confusing. See how your co-workers react when you say you’re going to “pwn” the competition or if you exclaim “w00t” at the end of a meeting. Of course, the VGDs in your office will probably give you a fist bump and/or flowers.

If, after reading all this and ruling out lesbianism, you’re still interested, by all means seek me and my fellow VGDs out at the local Best Buy, preferably on Tuesdays when all the new stuff is out. We promise a hot evening of a Yelp-approved restaurant, a Twitpic on Twitter as proof of our date, engaging conversation on topics like why Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. is a bitch, and a guaranteed “Like” on anything you do on Facebook henceforth. We may even go buckwild and hold your hand. It will be magical. Won’t you come and be my Player Two?

The Awful Truth: Going the Distance

Paul Nakayama says long-distance dating can be A-OK. Guest columnist Far East Movement see things a little bit differently.

ISSUE: Summer 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Far East Movement

PAUL SAYS

Whenever I go to karaoke (which is far too often for someone my age) I’m reminded of one of my personal greatest weaknesses — I can’t rap for spit, not even the easy Sesame Street ones meant for toddlers. I was always convinced that if I could just overcome this one hurdle, I would be surrounded by dozens of googly-eyed girlfriend candidates drawn to the masculine rhythms of rap as opposed to my Glee show tunes. And so when I had a chance to hang out with the boys of Far East Movement (FM) and see all the love they got from the ladies, I was surprised to learn that they have love maladies of their own — the issues of dealing with long distances. It’s my job, then, to let them know how good they got it. Long distance is not so bad, and can even be the perfect litmus for a relationship.

If you take a glance at my dating portfolio, you’ll notice a couple of things, besides the fact that it can fit into a fortune cookie. One, my relationships were almost all long term, and two, they almost all transitioned into long-distance relationships. Now, most of you would probably interpret this to mean that my girlfriends were forced to move to another state or country to escape my grasp, and some of you punks might be right. But my interpretation for this trend is that life is short and ever changing, and if you’re like FM, you’ve got to take to the road if you want to realize your ambitions. That means that in any relationship, there is a remarkable possibility of being separated by work or family or crazy 2012 earthquakes. This means, of course, that you either survive the distance or don’t. And me, well, I’m writing a relationship column while being almost monk-like single, so take a guess at my track record.

As painful and frustrating as long-distance relationships can be, I was always subconsciously drawn to them on some molecular level. My former roommate and I would have a running ritual whenever I traveled to another country. He’d say, “Don’t come back with a girlfriend!” I’d promise not to, even pinky swearing despite his homophobic protests, and yet a week later, I’d come home professing that I’d found love. I idealized these girls from Farawaynia, found everything to be marvelous and disregarded anything that resembled straitjackets. I’d fly home, thinking, “For her, I could do the whole long-distance thing.” But truth is, it never lasted very long or went beyond phone calls and IM chats that started and ended with “How was your day?” And why should it last? There was never a real connection strong enough to begin with that could sustain a relationship beyond the superficial.

Despite my failures with long-distance relationships and knowing logically that they’re unlikely to work, I’m still drawn to them … because of the “what ifs.” What if it did work? Would that make her The One? I hate drama as much as I hate mayonnaise or reality TV, but I suspect that I’m constantly finding myself in long-distance relationships because it’s the ultimate test. If you can survive living six hours apart, then you can survive petty arguments, jealousy and probably zombie attacks, because you will trust each other. I guess when I’ve been with a girl for a long time it’s good to know that we can survive anything, if we try. Of course, the problem is, most people I’ve dated didn’t really want to try. Hold on a sec while I wipe my tears with this here fiddle.

Now, the good news is, if the relationship is going to fail anyway, at least with a long-distance relationship you’ve got plenty of free time to do the things you want to do. I went out with my friends if I wanted. I’d spend Friday nights playing hours and hours of video games in my underwear while I stuffed my face full of Red Vines and drank eight liters of Mountain Dew. I’d dance along with America’s Best Dance Crew while eating out of a bucket of fried chicken. I’d choose to watch Bruckheimer over effing Nicholas Sparks. But, if we were living together and the relationship still went sour, well, then I suffered Letters to Juliet for absolutely nothing, and my soul would have a gaping hole in it the shape of a vagina. Yes, I know. Nicholas Sparks brings out the worst in me.

It’s hard being separated and making real relationships work. It takes more energy to send real love when you’re spanning hundreds of miles. But if you can survive it, then that’s good love right there, and that’s not something easily distilled. In my book, long distances aren’t necessarily non-starters for a relationship. Actually, in some ways, it’s a true starter because you have to really want it, and you’re forced to compromise to get the things that matter. And if you mess up, at least you’ve got a head start on running away or the time difference to think of an apology. There are worse things than being in love with someone on the other side of the planet … falling out of love with someone on the other side of the bed, for one. Hearing me rap is another.

FAR EAST MOVEMENT SAYS:

Tour life is a dream. You’re so removed from all immediate worries like bills, responsibilities and the general stress of everyday life. No one really knows you when you enter a city, and no one really knows you when you leave the next day. It’s just you and your best friends, going to new places, seeing new things and creating new memories. Life on the road is all we really know so when it comes to romance and relationships, what we know is quick and from a distance. A few of us have had long relationships with girls we might have loved or maybe still do, but keeping those relationships might be harder for us than getting a hit song on the radio.

Over the years we’ve learned good women need good attention, and good intentions don’t take the place of immediate action. We’re going to keep names out of this because we value our privacy, but we can each give examples from our lives for days on end. We’ll tell a few stories, so you know what we’re talking about.

One of us had a girl he wanted to ultimately marry. His mission was to do anything he could to be successful in the music business. He wanted the chance to be able to take care of her for the rest of her life. Extra late nights at the studio, months on tour, and all the hard work were motivated by wanting to take care of this girl and create a family. In the end, however, great intentions don’t make up for being around for things like cooking dinner or the holidays. Slowly that relationship turned to resentment and eventually died. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make up for lost time. Buying a stuffed animal in every city stop or staying faithful through any temptation don’t counter the feelings a girl gets when her man is away.

Then there’s the flipside to this in FM. One of us has been able to keep a great relationship going like a Duracell battery. For a relationship to last with careers like ours, it takes two people that understand each other better than they understand the English language. This understanding is what allows for crazy trust, which will get you through the lowest, darkest times. We’re constantly away for months, but as soon as we step off the plane in L.A., she’s there to pick us up. Immediately, they chat like he never left. A relationship like that gives us all hope, but to earn what they have, you’ve got to endure more turbulence than our last flight to Tokyo. It takes a strong man to stay true to his woman at a club across the country or overseas, but it takes a stronger woman to trust that man.

As touring artists, we know the single life oh so well. When we were younger, people would always suggest finding a girl quick. Once our careers took off, it would be impossible to find someone who could understand our schedule without having that history in place. Late-night recording sessions, impromptu meetings, booze-fueled shows at nightclubs, tours that last for months can all spell trouble for a budding relationship. In this lifestyle, you always catch yourself looking out the window of the tour bus for your own Penny Lane, like the character from Almost Famous; someone who enjoys freedom and is willing to accompany you on the road. But most girls that we’re drawn to usually have day jobs or school they can’t leave behind. And, besides, we can’t bring anyone with us on the road, because space is tight and limited only to people who own a meaningful role on the tour. But the single life doesn’t necessarily mean we are lonely when it comes to the ladies. We meet some extraordinary girls that sweep us off our feet. It just means we haven’t been able to build that thing called “love” into a relationship. Maybe the time just isn’t right yet.

We love what we do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Over the next few years, finding a balance between our dreams and our relationships will be essential to keep us inspired and movin’ like a Movement. We have a saying that we, the Far East Movement, are “Free Wired” … and we need girls who are the same. A “Free Wired” girl is supremely comfortable to wild out and just be herself. She’s wired not because she parties all night, but because she’s able to stay connected to us. Her communication skills are off the hook. It’s a free and full exchange in getting to know one another. If you run across one of us someday and want to get to know us, live free and stay wired.

The Awful Truth| Dates of Glory

DATES OF GLORY: Guest columnist Sarah Gim of the blog The Delicious Life says first dates are all about the food (on your plate and not on you, preferably). If you really want to make an impression, Paul Nakayama offers a fantasy scenario worthy of an SNL skit.

ISSUE: Summer 2011

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Sarah Gim

PHOTO: Audrey Cho

SARAH SAYS:
I never understood why there was such a stigma associated with first dates, since it’s always the second date that stresses me out. See, if you’ve gotten to the second date, that means you did well on your first go. Now you’ve set an expectation of some sort. Now you’ve got to live up to that expectation, and the idea of failing — that is stressful. And the third date? The third date, which means you’ve invested something more that just a wink or an email, gives you a lot to lose. Just thinking about third dates gets me so worked up I almost pass out before getting there.

Continue reading

The Awful Truth | Grading the Hall Pass

A week off your relationship? A celebrity one-night stand? A mutually agreed upon hall pass may sound like an easy A, but columnist Paul Nakayama reminds us why that’s just cheating.

ISSUE: Winter 2011-12

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama

Recently, I chatted with my editor at Audrey’s Fashion Night Out. It was nothing too cerebral, since I can’t speak intelligently about politics, the economy, science, literature or really anything besides video games or comic books. (How is a geek like me the relationship columnist, you ask? A steady delivery of cupcakes to a certain office in Gardena helps.) Nonchalantly, she turned to me and asked, “What do you think about hall passes?”

“Do they still use them in school?” I asked.

“No, you know, where you get a week off from marriage and live the single life,” she said.

My jaw dropped. “Your husband is right there!” I gasped. I mean, flattered, but I still gasped.

“What?! No, not with me! I mean as your next topic for the column!” She exclaimed, wide-eyed and likely offended.

I nodded understandingly. Oh. Right. Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking, too. I took the awkward silence as an agreement on our new topic. And so here I am, the single guy talking about the troubles that married couples face.

In the 2011 movie, Hall Pass, by the Farrelly brothers, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are unhappy with their married lives, so their frustrated wives give them a guilt-free week to party like single men. Essentially, they’re authorized to bang anyone if they can pull it off. I don’t know about you, but the premise alone sounds like entrapment. They might as well answer their wives when asked if they look fat. But that’s how the movie goes and, like any predictable comedy, they learn the error of their ways and learn to appreciate their marriages. Of course, in the real world, a story like that can only end in UFC- style beatdowns, dismemberment and the splitting of assets.

But for the sake of adding a few hundred words to the column, let’s explore why a Hall Pass might come to be. I know a lot of married couples and, while they shall remain nameless, the number one complaint I get from the husbands is that sex is all but gone. They say they masturbate more now than when they were single, which means you should never shake hands with a married man. Either you’re too tired, she’s too tired, the kids won’t leave you alone or whatever the reason, sex is rarely as passionate or spontaneous or even available as it used to be. For some men, that’s like being the benchwarmer on a Super Bowl-winning team … they’ll eventually ask themselves, “Why am I wearing this ring?”

That’s not to say that the lack of sex is the biggest issue leading to a Hall Pass-destined marriage – it’s just the most common complaint I’ve heard. I’ve heard it so much that I’m starting to doubt the reasons why married men want man-caves. I’d assumed it was used as a mecca for video games and beer, but the truth might be closer to it being a den of rampant, desperate masturbation.

Part of the draw of the Hall Pass is the fantasy of it all (while the other part is having sex with other people). The grass is greener and all that. Isn’t that why every couple eventually has a what-if talk about their celebrity hall passes? You know, where you each choose five celebrities that you’re allowed to sleep with if the opportunity ever presents itself. But, of course, it’s never supposed to happen. If anything, the celebrity hall pass is a device by which a couple can gauge how much they love each other. For example, let’s just say that Anne Hathaway was all like, “Take me, Paul. I know I’m on your celebrity hall pass list because I read Audrey.” I would have to politely decline and say, “I’m far too happy with my girlfriend to recreate my favorite scenes from Love and Other Drugs with you, Anne.” Because I choose my partner and because I value living.

And vice versa, how would I feel if my girlfriend met Ryan Gosling at a party and he saved a puppy from a burning tent and then asked her, “I need to work on my incredible abs that even men can’t resist. You in?” I mean, at first, yeah, I’d be flattered that Ryan Gosling had the same taste in women as me, but then, I’d be like, “Wait a second ….”

The celebrity hall pass is supposed to be a hypothetical that never comes to be. It’s a game. Otherwise, Hollywood celebs would have celebrity hall passes, too, right? Actually, I just checked TMZ, and I suppose it kind of seems like they do. They call it “dating.” All right, new rule. I’m only talking about us regular folks.

Here’s the thing, though. I know married couples secretly do want a Hall Pass, of some kind anyway. How do I know this? Easy. I’ve been to a little place known as Las Vegas, the Hall Pass Capital of the World. At bachelor and bachelorette parties, do you know the craziest, rowdiest bunch? It ain’t the bride or the groom or the strippers, I’ll tell you that much. It’s the married folks. This is their vacation from marriage. Even if their lives are perfect with a giant home, perfect job, darling little kids, there’s something that becomes pent up inside of every good husband, wife, father and mother. Behind every puking bachelor/ette is a married person that wanted to get their drink on and party like they were single again. I’ve seen it. It’s terrifying.

Now, I’ve given you the reasons why I think Hall Passes could happen, but I should be fair and also give my reasons why, even as a single bachelor trying to live the life, they’re a bad idea. It’s not often that I allow myself to be cheesy in print, but I’m skeptical of Hall Passes because marriage is about building a life together with the things that matter most, and that’s got to be more important than one week of sex with Anne Hathaway. (Maybe … still thinking … no, marriage is more important.) Marriage is one of those promises that take so long to find and so much work to make that breaking it just doesn’t make sense to me. You break the rules once, and you’ll probably break them again. It’s kind of like quitting cigarettes — every now and then you’ll want a stick when drinking. And I want marriage, should I ever find myself in one, to transcend that sort of thing. Unlike comedies, I’m certain that most people can’t recover from a Hall Pass.

I think most married people forget how much it sucks to be single. They’ll say it every now and then, but it’s not a true recollection of the loneliness and desperation. Masturbating a lot as a married man? Please. That’s because you’re keeping count. Being single means always trying to find someone to share things with, and yes, those things include your penis or vagina. Ironically, despite the complaints about the lack of sex in marriages, the strikingly lonesome thing about being single is not the quest for sex; it’s the hunt for companionship. And that hunt can take years, so why ruin it for a week of fun?