October 21 2007

ok, friday i went to “the craft fair of the southern highlands” at the asheville civic center.

there were lots of interesting work. i especially liked the modern style of woodworking taken by some of the exhibitors. though the arts and crafts movement of the 1900’s is still the governing influence on independent furniture makers.

i guess you have to make what people want to buy.

i thought the highlight of the visit was going to be this overheard conversation in the main exhibit hall:

lady in her early ’60’s: “this (the asheville civic center) is the ugliest building i’ve ever seen.”
lady’s mother (late 80’s): (pauses her wheeled-walker in mid-glide, straightens-up to look around, and says) “yep.”
lady in her early ’60’s: “what a shame.”
lady’s mother (late 80’s): “yep.”

the real hightlight of the trip was a realization that hit me about 20 minutes after hearing the ‘yep’ lady.

what was that realization?

i was the only minority in the room.

ok, to be honest, i can pick and choose from a variety of minority affiliations depending on my mood. today i was feeling particularly asian.

i noticed something about an hour after arriving at the exhibit hall. the sense of being the odd-man-out kinda creeps into consciousness. all the dolls are white; quilts cost $3,000; i get ‘the evil eye’ more than once in a 30 minute period. these, and other things, individually don’t mean much. but taken together it means: ‘this asian man walks alone.’

i love this feeling.

after realizing the situation, i pay close attention to my fellow fairgoers. from the back, every brunette and badly-dyed blonde is inspected to make sure i’m still the only one. for the next 20 minutes, i am the only one…

…the only one in a room full of 5,000 people. i am unique. i am singular. i am a rock star!

i’ve been in this situation many times before.

my goal became to remain the only asian fairgoer. who came and went to the fair when i wasn’t in the center didn’t matter. without cheating (rushing through the exhibits, keeping my gaze to the floor, etc.) i would win if i didn’t see another one like me until i left the building. i don’t know what i would win, i would just win.

all around the mezzanine level, no problem. down to the main hall… a chubby korean girl selling hotdogs, she was working the fair, not an attendee. she didn’t count. there’s a japanese guy selling pottery; he doesn’t count.

i round the corner to walk up the ramp leading to the exit. i had been at the fair almost 2 hours.

i was literally 75 feet from the exit.

there he was.

a 20 year old cambodian with a ponytail, a man bag, and his older, gentleman friend.


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