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PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 25.1 (2003) 34-38

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The Flushing Cycle
excerpts from memoir-monologue plays

Alvin Eng

The Flushing Cycle

1. Flush To Flushing Blues

Let me tell you a story
'Bout a guy from Flushing
And his Queens Quandary
Close your eyes and just say "Fluuuussshhhh-ing . . ."
Not a pretty picture is it?
Could you imaging someone singing,
"I left my heart" . . . in Flushing?
or "It don't mean a thing" . . . If you're not from Flush-ing?

That's why for years, I've been like,
"Hi, I'm from . . . (whisper) Flushing."
Not just because of the way it sounds,
but because Flushing is in Queens.
One of the five fine boroughs that comprise our City.
But somehow, we've gotten third class New York City citizenship. We're behind Brooklyn, and, of course,
the center of the universe . . . Manhattan.

And that's not fair.
Because Queens is the largest borough of New York.
And Flushing is the biggest part of Queens.
So if you lifted Flushing up
and put it somewhere else . . . We'd be a major city.

And therein lies that ol' Queens quandary.
Because we are, where we are;
So close, yet so far,
from the center of the universe . . . Manhattan.
Sometimes it seems like the whole world is here reinventing itself. Everybody except for me.
I seem to remain unchanged.
Will I ever escape this Queens quandary?

To make matters worse,
When I was growing up
We were one of the only Chinese families in Flushing
But now as a grown-up
I feel like I'm the only Chinese guy in Flushing
Who does not speak fluent Chinese.

2. F.O.B.

I'm not ashamed, I admit it. I used to be an F.O.B. No I was never one of those "fresh off the boat" Chinese guys you see all the time in Flushing now. No, I was a Fat Oriental Boy. Oh yeah, and it was "oriental" not "Asian" during the pre-politically-correct days of 1972. And being a fat oriental boy of Chinese persuasion what do you think they called me in P.S. 214? . . . A chunk. [End Page 34]

And being a chunk off the old block outside of Chinatown in pre-multi-culti NYC, I may as well have needed a green card to enter society. Cause let's face it, if just enough flesh is a love handle, then is too much flesh a hate handle? Let me take you back to those halcyon low-stepping days. And those were the good old days, to be young, yellow, fat, and free in New York City.

Once upon a time in a tiny bedroom kingdom called Flushing, there lived an F.O.B. laundryman's son. Yes, he came from a long line of stereotypes: his parents ran the only Chinese hand laundry in the neighborhood, and in fact, they were one of the only Asian families in Flushing at the time. So it was 1972, and he spent his third-grade days nestled neatly in his dreams of wanting to be as heroic as Willis Reed of the N.Y. Knicks and to kiss Jennifer, the cute blonde girl who sat in front of him in assembly. Well, those seemingly temporal goals would have some extraordinary obstacles as all attempts to talk to Jennifer resulted in barely disguised giggling amongst her girlfriends. Now had all the episodes ended that way, nothing out of the ordinary may have happened. But that's not entirely what happened. You see, as more of these episodes unraveled, it became clear that the key word in the giggling of Jennifer and her friends was "chink," often alternating with "fat chink." Well, things finally reached a point where he simply did not want to hear it anymore. Intending only to silence the laughter, or have that key word changed, the F.O.B. pushed Jennifer's head. But to everyone...


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pp. 34-38
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