Friday, April 07, 2006

FOB or Not?!?!

:: THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO SuckyBlog.com ::
FOB. ABC. No, I'm not singing a song that teaches kids to spell.

F-O-B! (pronounced "fob", but usually with an exclamation, like "FOB!!!") means Flresh-Off-Boat! A! B! C! means Amelican Bohn Chinese! Just a decade or two ago, Asian immigrants (FOB!) and their children (ABC! like me!), considered these labels to be badges of shame, connoting traits that just didn't fit into the great American landscape:

FOB
- Multi-variable length hair style accompanied by splotchy sideburns. Thin polyester jackets with two tone color schemes. White socks with sandals. Even worse- hiked up dark socks with sandals and shorts. Some funky, unsophisticated-sounding, non-European, definitely non-American chop suey accent.

ABC
- Rice rockets (Japanese compact cars, for the uninitiated) with dark tinted front windows. High SAT math scores. (They just had to ruin the curve didn't they?). Bad at sports. Socially awkward when outnumbered by WASPs.

Amazing how much can change in just a few decades. Most FOBs (at least from my parents' generation) are a self-selecting group of earnest, enterprising, risk-taking individuals- how many of us would leave our homeland to pursue some nebulous, unquantifiable opportunity in a far away place where we don't speak the language? As a result, many FOBs prospered. Don't act all surprised. Just because they don't speak English well doesn't mean they're bad at business. (pet peeve side note: if you are speaking to somebody who is not fluent in English, speak more slowly if you want them to actually understand you. Speaking louder does not help them understand you any better).

And FOBs' ABC kids -with one foot in America and maybe a small toehold in some land across the Pacific (still gotta eat rice for 3 out of every 5 meals!)- actually scored ok on the SAT verbals. They played sports. Joined the debate team. Went to college (*ahem* University of Caucasians Lost among Asians). Became professionals. Lawyers. Doctors. Engineers. Internet tycoons. Intellectuals. Artists. Token Asian Guys on movie sets. A few semi-funny comedians. They wedged themselves into the great American landscape.

And America over time also began to reflect a slight yellow glow. White guys got yellow fever. They got married (one married my cousin. Go Rob!). They produced hybrid offspring (who apparently are "half white/half right"! haha courtesy of Jonathan Chin). Asian cuisines got fused into gourmet menus (by white chefs, but us Asians are more pragmatic than proud so we'll take it anyway). Japanese cars set the new gold standard for reliability in the world's largest automobile market. Jackie Chan made some hit movies in Engrish. Ang Lee won an Oscar. Everyone's into yoga.

I don't know if it's cool to be a FOB or ABC. But any negative connotation with FOBiness has definitely been rapidly receding. Many value their FOB- and ABC-dom: It's advantageous to have a rich multilingual, multicultural background when you inhabit a rapidly shrinking globe.

So whether you're yellow, brown, black, red, white, or any other color (Barney:purple; Kermit:green...they're American, aren't they?!), let's test your FOB-IQ! Since many FOBs these days are quite cosmopolitan, with respectable hairstyles, department store wardrobes and fluency in multiple languages, it may be more difficult than you think to figure out which of my friends below is FOB (born outside the U.S.).

For each of the pictures below, take your best guess...FOB or Not!!! The answers are in InvisoText.

(hold down your mouse button and scroll your over the white area to the right of each picture)

Fob or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



Walter! He no FOB! He born in USA!!!






FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.
FOB!!! But Uma is married to a CA (Caucasian American) so she is undertaking a 7 step de-FOBbing program. She may even learn to bake one day. (Asians stir fry. They don't bake).





FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



HE NO FOB!!! Not only is Bobby not a FOB, he's half white!!!









FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



NOT FOB!!! Jon is ABC!!! But still a math major.







FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.


Trick question!!! Lisa is not Asian (can you tell by the picture?), but she was born in South Africa- Honorary FOB! (Some would argue that affluent white immigrants are FOPs: Fresh Off the Plane! That is at least two classes above FOB if you are counting purely by mode of transportation.)







FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.




Another trick question!!! Diana was born in Singapore, and currently lives in Singapore! NOT FOB!!! But if she lived in the U.S. she would be FOB!!!







FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



NOT FOB!!! Jenny is ABC, born in USA! She eats only hamburgers and speaks only English. She's what's called a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Hey, I just repeat this stuff...I don't make it up).






FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.
Super duper trick question!!! Clockwise from top left:
Shont: Half ABA! (American-Born-Armenian!)
Pat: FOB!!!
Katrina: All American! Not FOB, Not ABC, Not ABA!
Baby Olivia: Not FOB, Not ABC, 1/4 ABA! ("and damn pwoud ob it!" she adds).


FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.
Phil! He's of Korean descent, but despite the FOB-like hairstyle and unintentional half-'stache (so difficult to distinguish between "FOB", "grunge" and "slob" appearance these days), Phil HE NOT FOB!!!




FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.


Yet another trick question! (us ABCs are so tricky! Maybe it's something we learned from our FOB parents!). Sandy hails from Canada, but lives in Cambridge, MA. He's a FOC! (Fresh Out of the Car).







FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



Shirley! She's NOT FOB! She's an ABC! Can't you tell? with a name like Shirley?!? That's totally an ABC name.









FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.



Tammy! Her brother is FOB! But she is ABC!!!






FOB or Not?!?!
Click your mouse here, hold down the mouse button and drag down over the white space below to see the answer.
Will! Born in Taiwan!!! FOB!!! Well, at least by the definition of FOB that I posited above. Will though would probably rather fight you to the death than allow you to call him a FOB! There are distinctions among foreign-born Americans, spanning varying degrees of FOBiness. Will mostly grew up in the U.S., so despite his pimped-out ride (FOB/ABC style), Will would argue that he and newly arrived FOBby FOBs don't have too much in common!



So did you get any right? Is your FOB IQ sufficient?

Here is another test to gauge your FOB sensibilities. I am not providing answers to these- you will have to consult your own personal FOB or ABC friends for enlightenment:

When you go out for Chinese food, where do you go?
- PF Chang's
- Sam Woo BBQ

What's your favorite dish there?
- Chicken lettuce cups
- Boiled tripe

When you finish eating at a Korean restaurant and they give you a little cup of milky white liquid with little pellets on the bottom, what do you do with it?
- Rinse your fingers
- Drink it

When you order a rice dish at a Thai place, what utensils do you use? (Note: This may be a trick question. And if you are trying to game it, having guessed what I guessed you will guess, well then it may turn out to be a *trick-trick* question, where I have guessed what you guessed I guessed you would guess...)
- Chopsticks
- Fork and spoon

When you buy a new tv, what is the first thing you do to it?
- Remove the stickers
- Wrap the remote control in Saran Wrap

What floor, in a building, would you least want to be on?
- 4
- 13

What's your opinion of durian?
- Tastes like heaven
- Smells like hell

When you go on vacation and arrive at your destination, what's the first thing you look for?
- The spa
- Chinese food

In what order do you prioritize the following weekend activities:
- Eating
- Shopping
- Camping
- Eating
- Hiking
- Shopping
- Eating
- Reading
- Shopping
- Partying
- Eating
- Concerts
- Shopping
- Eating


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3 Comments:

Anonymous Neil said...

It's impossible to know these things from clothes and looks anymore. If anything, twenty-somethings from Singapore or Tokyo are way hipper than the typical American.

It's always the same thing in American integration. First everyone is into the food, then everyone loves the woman -- and do you notice that Asian-American men are finally considered sexy? (and they don't even have to know martial arts anymore)

Man, you guys are lucky.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous jamie ford said...

Asian-American men are finally considered sexy? (and they don't even have to know martial arts anymore)

That cracks me up, it's so true. The poly-ethnic thing is in.

My dad was Chinese, and married my mom who was caucasian, in the 60's. Must have been a big deal back in the day. He was pimpin' it before his time.

10:49 AM  
Blogger jackt said...

Neil & JF: OK I know what you guys are saying about asian men being considered sexy, but I don't know if I'm buying it. No chest hair = no sexy.

JF: It's still hard out here for a pimp. (OK I will stop with the over-abused pop-culture references haha).

4:26 PM  

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