Asian stereotypes? Me too.

As an Asian woman living in the States in an era where race and gender are increasingly becoming the subject of much discussion, I often find myself navigating the unsettling currents of racism and sexism. These currents become even more treacherous when racism and sexism decide to join forces and haunt me in ways that I did not think would be possible.

I do wonder if my inability to address confrontation, of any kind, is a result of my upbringing, my culture, or my DNA. I certainly remember my parents telling me to go to my room with my sister when ‘grown-ups’ came to visit, because children were not allowed in grown up conversations. Yet I also remember my mother telling me I could become anything I wanted without the help of a man; and that I should speak up if I wanted things. The constant and unconscious head bowing we Asians somehow manage to incorporate in the menial details of our everyday life definitely has an effect on how we think of ourselves vis-a-vis the other and how we choose to remain ‘respectful’ and not confrontational. What may have once started as a physical demonstration of a value (that of respect and reverence) has now the reverse effect, where the corporeal performance serves as a guide to learn and relearn, and show what we are told are our core values. So yes, most of us would smile and nod politely when a stranger tells us that one of their best friends is Korean (or Chinese/Vietnamese/Cambodian/Japanese, etc). However, to describe Asia as the land of the calm that would make Confucius proud is laughable in every way. Anyone that has stood on the busy Gangnam streets of Seoul at 10pm on a weekday would immediately notice the vomit, the haphazard drinking groups pouring out of bars to head to karaoke, the deafening shoutings, the unconscious drunken bodies sprawled here and there, and the occasional arguments; all of which has nothing to do with respectfulness. Or is it simply me? Just like my introverted character, maybe this is just a part of who I am. I would rather keep quiet and rant about it to a friend later than stand up and speak up my mind. ‘Talk talk’ used to be my parents’ ‘favorite’ thing to tell me when I was learning English as a shy teenager. Maybe I’m simply shy by nature, and maybe it’s OK that I do not correct every single ‘micro aggression’ that is addressed to me and my fellow Asian women.

But somehow it doesn’t seem OK. Or rather, it doesn’t seem OK anymore. In this age of #Metoo and of Crazy Rich Asians, my silence has become complicit to the perpetuation of stereotypes and prejudices and funny ‘Asian jokes’. Maybe, in a truly innocent and naive way, White People cannot understand what racism looks like when imposed on Asians, because they have been focusing too much of that energy on Black People. Maybe, by laughing along with the racist joke as told by White People, we have somehow given them the OK, that we are here to please, and please only. And if that means laughing at our expense, so be it. Maybe, in our deepest desire to be seen as the model immigrants and the easygoing friends, we completely forgot that there is a price to pay, and that price is racism.

So yes, when somebody tells me ‘Oh my best friend is Korean’, I want to throw up the gallon of sarcasm I have been gulping all my life and shout back ‘No way! Me too! What are the coincidences?’. When somebody imitates the well-known ‘Asian girl wave and giggling’, maybe I shouldn’t show them ‘how it is done the right way’ and instead give them an eye roll to remember me by. Yes, maybe, I have a right to tell someone I have not met, that saying ‘being complimented by an Asian that he has mad searching skills is like receiving the Nobel Peace Prize’ is plainly racist, period (although there are other problems with that sentence).

Is it unfair that I get to make Asian jokes, comment on the ridiculousness of Asian girl giggles and their mortal fear of the sun, and whine about how I don’t see myself dating an Asian man? Maybe. But you don’t spend the rest of the day wondering whether that joke was appropriate, whether by letting you get away with it, I have betrayed and let down my ‘people’. You don’t have to find another Asian friend to rant about the stupid stereotypes we had to face yet again today. You don’t have to wonder whether this guy talked to me because he thought I was interesting, or simply because he thought I would be one of those submissive Asian girls with black hair and porcelain skin. You don’t have to question your life choices and how your actions represent your race. You get to laugh at that stupid, racist joke; brush it off, and go on about your day. You get to see yourself as an individual and not as an unofficial spokesperson of your race and gender.

So yeah, maybe it’s not that unfair I have all these ‘privileges’. And maybe it’s time I claim them as mine, and mine only.


Can I make this joke?

Is it ever OK for an academic to make jokes? I would like to think so, yes.

Is it ever OK for an academic to make jokes using phrases she tries to fight against in her work? I don’t know the answer to that. I want to say yes, that everything should be taken in its context, but I’m not sure. As I am not sure whether it is ever OK, or when it’s not OK, to make racist or sexist jokes.

I believe in the power of words and narratives. I don’t think words come out of a vacuum, I do think history and power dynamics are embedded in most words we use. And I also think choosing certain words over some others influence how we perceive the exact same thing those two different terms are meant to designate. This is why we are continuously cultivating a Politically Correct culture, and trying to change our perception from ‘less developed countries’ to ‘developing countries’ or from ‘queer’ to ‘gay’ and back to ‘queer’. Most of the time, there is a dominating group and an oppressed group represented in words we use, and almost all the time, we tend to follow the narrative of the dominating group. Unfortunately, we also focus so much on the PC culture that we forget about the bigger system that makes the PC culture necessary in the first place. But that’s for another discussion.

Yet the world and our lives are riddled with subtle and not-so-subtle expressions that betray the inherently unequal system we are living in, and which, as a person and as an academic, I try to speak up against, one way or the other. What I want to believe is that a word has power only as much as we intend to give it. And that this power changes over time and place. There was a time when the word ‘Oriental’ was used in both academic and daily settings to designate the ‘non-West’, and the word was not just a jumble of alphabet letters but also a betrayal of the different and the exotic the ‘non-West’ represented. Today, rare are the instances when that word is used to describe what it intended (or at least by the people I personally know – whether or not these people have had that word thrown at them by others, I can’t vouch for). Instead, I would be OK to use it to make fun of a system and time period that came up with that word and concept in the first place. Power was given. But I choose to take back that power and treat it as the nonsensical word it should have been. I think the same can be said for the word ‘queer’. Although I’m not an expert in Gender Studies and Sexuality, the word ‘queer’ in its dictionary sense, means ‘weird, strange, unusually different’, and was used to designate the LGBTQ population. Today, the power given to the word ‘queer’ is different. Because change happens. We change ourselves, our norms, our values. There are no rules as to how these things change and who has the authority to change them. But I would like to believe I have the power and perception to be part of these changes. To take back the power that the oppressing group gave and turn it as a joke against them and why not, against me, since I also have privileges others don’t. To make a joke without fearing the backlash from other ‘intellectuals’ and ‘academics’ who assume they have the monopoly on what is right or wrong, without realizing that by doing that, they are only giving back power to the word, power that I had taken away.

So yes, maybe, I’m allowed to make certain jokes using ‘offensive’ words. Or maybe not.

I would also like to think that as academics, we are first and foremost human beings. And as human beings, we live with other people. We learn how to be social. Do I, perhaps, feel a teeny tiny speck of discomfort when my friends make fun of Asians? Maybe. Sometimes. Do I stand up to them and tell them I’m offended and I’m the only one that is allowed to make these jokes? Certainly not. I love making ‘That’s what she said’ jokes. No, I pride in making them when they’re least expected. Does that make me less of a feminist because by making the joke, I do not question how it is based on a purely sexualized version of the woman? I don’t think so. Life would just be too sad without ‘that’s what she said’ jokes.

Academics are so engulfed in their perspective of what is right and wrong in the world that they often forget their complaint about ‘not reaching out to the rest of the population’ is on them. I mean, yes, our indignant cries about how climate change is real and how racism is real fall on deaf ears, and that may not be solely our fault – there are stupid and irrational people everywhere. But academics can take on the responsibility of ‘educating the world’ without necessarily being a jerk, using some humor and there appropriately. There is a reason so many people love Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, and the likes, and so few people read our boring articles filled with jargon and fixations on less important things.

I believe in making this world a better place and in changing people’s minds, however little my contribution may be, all the while still managing to be somewhat ‘human’. The other day, I was talking to this very nice European woman who shares my Airbnb about intercultural experiences. When she mentioned about the ‘negative effects’ of colonization – which revealed that she also assumed there were ‘positive effects’, I didn’t express my indignation, although I firmly believe whatever so-called ‘positiveness’ there was through colonization, it all becomes meaningless in face of the destruction it left. Why? Because I knew her grandfather was in Africa and worked as a colonizer and I didn’t want to tell her that her grandfather was a horrible human being for complying with what was happening at the time. Because we were having a nice conversation and I knew we would be seeing each other fairly often, for quite some time during my stay. Because I didn’t think it was my place to stain her own experience and family history. I thought that I did enough by not reinforcing that, yes, there were indeed positive effects. Did that make me a bad academic? Maybe. But I would rather be a mediocre academic than a jerk of a human being.

We don’t need your white guilt

Yesterday, I had my very first argument on Facebook – with someone I barely know, as go all Facebook arguments. I, unlike many so-called ‘intellectuals’, do NOT believe in Facebook arguments. There, I said it. I don’t think Facebook is the right platform to conduct healthy discussions on issues that matter. Let’s face it, Facebook is oftentimes an outlet for people to brag about their deeds and their ‘morality’ with the appearance of caring about the world and humanity. Yes, sure, I do acknowledge that it’s a good way to be up to date with current news and issues (but even then, your feed will probably be covered with things you already agree with). But unlike what it professes to be, its ‘social network’ only expands to people users are already close to. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any privacy setting. I personally use it to ‘be moral’ and share news articles that I think are important and that I think make me look smart. I also use it to put funny and sarcastic statuses and pictures because that’s my vanity – believing my friends when they tell me that they like my Facebook statuses because I’m a funny gal. Yes, I know. I take pleasure and pride when people like me, or when they tell me they like me. Sue me.

This is why Facebook arguments are often (not always) useless because no matter how long my comments are, they will never truly be able to show my history, my identity, my background, and my experiences. They will be taken out of context by people who don’t know me and interpreted according to their history, identity, background, and experiences. When we live in a world where people can barely get through decent conversations face-to-face, how likely is it that we would be able to change people’s minds drastically through Facebook? Let’s not kid ourselves.

No, it is not possible to ‘have intellectual conversations’ where our ‘personal’ feelings don’t get involved. Everything is personal. So don’t blame me for being ‘defensive’ and ‘taking things personally’ when I’m being insulted and attacked under the guise of ‘intellectual debate’. It is possible to be ‘insulting’ while using words such as ‘sorry you feel that way’, ‘yes that is fair’, or ‘I didn’t mean to offend you’. Just because you use ‘civilized’ expressions doesn’t mean you can’t be insulting and condescending.

Having put this very long preface, this is what happened. It’s too long and complicated to summarize, and I wanted to be as objective as possible, so here goes – I explicitly made this post ‘public’.  (Click on the picture to see the comments). On another thought, I could have made the ‘commenter’ anonymous to protect her privacy, but that would have been too much trouble (ain’t nobody got time for that) and she chose to be on this public intellectual debate in the first place, so….

I have MANY MANY things to say about this, but will say this one thing – for now. I may go on several ranting posts after this.

One of the fundamental truths White People (WP from hereon – and I put this in capital letters because I am not speaking about all white people, but the history and privilege white people represent as a racial group) seem to believe, is that it is absolutely degrading and immoral to see Africa or African countries as both ‘poor’ and ‘wealthy’, as being the homes of both ‘joy’ and ‘pain’. They have (and still do) portrayed Africa in such a negative light for so many years in so many ways that the ‘woke’ thing to do now is acknowledge that Africa has much more to offer than just ‘poverty’, ‘malnutrition’, and ‘child mortality’. And yes, that is true. Africa is much more than that. Like ANY OTHER CONTINENT.

Why do WP go on talking about wealth gaps in ‘developed’ countries like the States, but the moment we mention that ‘some’ Africans may not practice Yoga (a very privileged leisure in places other than India), we have committed an immoral crime? Why can’t WP acknowledge that, like in ALL societies, poverty AND wealth cohabit in African communities? Why do WP feel the need to protect Africa, like it’s a child that knows nothing and stumbles into the harsh real world completely blindfolded? Colonization has been over for more than half a century now, but the white guilt coming from it is so strong that now the reverse has occurred – there is absolutely no way you can talk about serious issues in Africa, such as poverty and civil wars, without being a ‘racist’. You MUST acknowledge its potential! Its future! Its people full of hopes! WE  ARE ALL EQUAL! WP fail to see this is just ANOTHER White narrative they are imposing on their former colonies. A ‘more positive’ one, sure, on the outside, but just as condescending.

WP love talking about ‘African culture’ and admire it because it offers hospitality, a sense of community, and so forth. This is still another form of ‘exoticizing’ Africa. Africa is not the ‘black continent’ where people die under miserable conditions. But neither is it a place where children run happily without shoes because, you know, that’s happiness for them.

So no, it’s not OK to use the hashtag #firstworldproblem assuming Africans don’t have cell phones or don’t have to deal with mosquitos. But it’s also not OK to impose your white guilt on everything and pretend yoga is a national pastime. It is OK to think some people would have found my downward dog on the yard ‘the whitest thing ever’. I’m sure the Senegalese maid at the house I’m staying at rolled her eyes at me. And so did her brother that came in later. And I’m OK with that. I had never felt ‘whiter’ than that moment I was doing my Vinyasa being bitten by mosquitos (this is meant to be sarcastic – just pointing it out). It is OK, no, necessary, to understand a community, a country, a culture, a region, with all its complexities and differences. It is OK to think and say that problems and hope exist together. Denying either one only shows your white superiority complex that YOU know what’s best for them, because it makes YOU feel better.


No dick pics, please.

The more I immerse myself in the world of Tinder and online dating – not necessarily out of pleasure but more out of necessity and somehow self-rationalized social pressure – the more I realize how drastically different men and women are. It is a wonder, after all, that we, or at least, other people out there, find each other and manage to spend time together, whether that may be a few months or a thousand years. If god indeed created humanity in his/her image, (s)he must either be a schizophrenic or a sadist.

And this one conversation shows how different women and men are!

This guy, whom we shall call John (I promise that is not his real name), was relatively new to Tinder and he was the type that believes Tinder is for people looking for sex but disguising it as dating. Although I am not on Tinder for such purpose, I can understand his point of view. If I myself had not been the product of over 20 years of Asian PLUS Catholic education, I, too, may also use it for such purpose. And as I am depending more and more on it, I frankly don’t think it’s such a bad idea. I’d rather have one night of great sex than one hour of awful boring date. Anyways, I digress.

John was not obnoxious or weird or offensive, and he ‘looked normal’ on his pictures, so curious, I decided to engage in the conversation. He clearly told me he was looking for FWB and I honestly told him that was not my primary objective, but that I could be convinced otherwise. He was quite open about sex – which, I think, is something we could all profit from, myself included, and which is possible without turning it into a weird and offensive conversation. John loved great sex – who DOESN’T – and he was a ‘giver’ (thank you!). I do think if I were pushed or slightly drunk, I really could have said ‘Great, let’s see what you have to give’. But (unfortunately?) I wasn’t, and I may have missed the chance of my life, who knows. I bantered a little, not in a suggestive way, because let’s face it, I’m still prudish IRL despite my obscene infatuation with good “That’s what she said” jokes.

And that’s when he kindly offered if I wanted another photo. To be fair, I’m glad he asked first instead of shoving it on my screen (pun intended). Let’s give him that. I genuinely thought he meant another photo of how good looking he was or I don’t know, a great pizza, because who doesn’t love pizza. Just anything but a dick pic. I jokingly said “Please don’t send me a dick pic” and he genuinely seemed disappointed. The fact that he didn’t send me any picture later kind of confirms this, I think. When I told him girls don’t really like dick pics, and I think I did speak for most women, it seemed this was indeed brand new information to him. Most women I know or that I’ve talked to are not turned on by a random dick pic, or, to use the scientifically right term, the photograph of a penis (correct me otherwise). Don’t get me wrong, penises do great and amazing things, yes, but objectively and frankly speaking, they are not the prettiest thing on earth. And it’s the same for women’s vaginas! Sure, there’s all this talk about how your vagina is beautiful and unique, and yes, I do think you should get to know your vagina as an important part of the human body, but let’s be real. I wouldn’t look at some random vagina and think ‘Oh yeah, that’s a great vagina’. Sure, boobs, I can see why they might be a turn on. But penises and vaginas are just… organs that are better felt and savored (muhahaha PG warning) than observed.

And yet, here we all are, despite our differences, desperately or lukewarmly searching for that one person that will make all dick pics irrelevant and obsolete…


All the worries of the world on your shoulder, child.

(This post was inspired by the episode “Kid Logic” of the podcast This American Life)

Every time I see kids crying or whining or doing any sort of kid-thing, I fail to demonstrate any sort of human sympathy, mostly due to my general lack of empathy and the fact that I am not a kid-person. But I guess there is also some sort of envy there, because they don’t have to worry about paying the bills, about whether or not they should spend $80 on the Victoria Secret semi-annual sale they probably shouldn’t, or about their PhD prospectus – life, in general. They, in a word, have nothing to worry about.

But as I was listening to this episode on This American Life about how children have their own way of dealing with logic and the world around them, I could not help but remember how I too was, once, a child, with “no worries”. And I remember that being a child doesn’t necessarily mean your world is actually void of worries. Quite the opposite. Maybe I was an especially anxious child, who knows, even though I don’t remember being one; it would explain many things I am going through as an ‘adult’.


I remember being worried that humanity was destined to live ‘forever’ (although that may not be now, thank you Climate Change). I could simply not understand the idea that although my mommy and daddy will die, and I will die one day, life was to go on on this planet earth, until the year 3,000 and more and more. It scared me that life was endless. Life was not a happy story that could end with a firm ‘The End’ that I was so accustomed to.The book of Life did not have a last page. Life was going to persist, and although individuals would eventually die, humanity, as a race, would just go on forever. I remember my mom laughing, telling me I wouldn’t be alive to witness it anyways, so why the concern? But what was I to do with this baffling and disturbing knowledge? Just go on, like a naive creature without reason? I just couldn’t.

Maybe I indeed was on the higher end of the anxiety spectrum, when I think about all the diseases I was afraid I might catch. One of the many ‘dangers’ you become aware of when growing up Catholic and with the Bible around you is leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. The bible is filled with stories of Jesus healing the lepers, and that is all good and beautiful, but I was mostly concerned with the fact that there were lepers in the first place, and that they were inevitably shunned by all (except by Jesus of course). I was terrified at the idea that I too, might catch this disease, and I could see my finger-less and toe-less future, for sure. Jesus had been here once already, and he couldn’t possibly come back and heal me, so what was I to do? Then, with the whole AIDS phase in the 90s, I was afraid I might catch that too. I knew it was a sexually transmitted disease, but there had been cases, after all, of transmission through blood transfusions, and so on. What if I needed blood transfusion and was pricked by a contaminated needle? The horror!

I had this blue booklet when I was in my early teens, given by an acquaintance of my mom. This person was a fervent Jehovah’s Witness and apparently her goal in life was to convert us – which she still pursues today. I don’t remember the title of the booklet, but it basically masqueraded itself into providing all the possible answers teenagers could have and ‘guide them through the right path’. I guess my mom thought if it meant it could keep us away from trouble, a Jehovah’s Witness book was as good as any, and had no qualm giving it to my sister and I. There was the usual ‘obey to your parents’ and ‘no promiscuity’ (why are religions so obsessed with sex, I don’t know) chapters, but I especially remember the one on how masturbation was an absolute sin. As a prude teenager, I had no idea what masturbation meant. My mother, as a good Asian mother, wouldn’t give me a satisfactory answer, so as the diligent student that I was, I turned to the huge dictionary we had at home (this was pre-Internet, also known as the Dark Ages). I don’t know what definition it had, but either because the definition itself was unclear or because the idea of sexually pleasing oneself couldn’t have possibly crossed my mind back then (I know, let’s laugh together at this idea), I remained in ignorance. And that, of course, was another major point of concern. I mean, if I didn’t even know what masturbation meant, how could I possibly avoid it? What if I were to fall into the depths of sin and hell without even realizing?

Let’s not forget the time I watched a movie where one of the characters died after stepping into quicksand (I don’t even remember the plot, I just remember that scene). This did not bode well for a kid living in a country that is literally in the middle of the Saharan desert. I was terrified I would one day step into an innocent-looking dune only to realize, too late, that it was quicksand and not even my parents would be able to save my body engulfed by sand.

At least, problems that we face as adults often do have solutions – we will pay our bills if we wisely choose not to spend $80 on the unnecessary (albeit so beautiful) Victoria Secret sale, and well, we just have to make that goddamn prospectus happen, once and for all. So let’s give some credit to all the kids out there with unspeakable concerns weighing down on their shoulders, disheartened, without a single viable solution on the horizon. Let’s hug them (and by ‘let’s’, I mean the rest of you, because, let’s not kid ourselves (pun intended), I remain a no-kid-person) and reassure them that they will grow up to face very mundane problems and that everything will be all right in the end.



This is not the end of the world

Anger, sadness, numbness, despair, hopelessness, disbelief – is there a word that encompasses all of these feelings? Yes, we do now – a Trump presidency.

For a year now, we’ve all been joking about this, unaware that it would one day become reality. Sure, we joked about being deported, about moving to Canada, and about the world coming to an end. And today, even as reality seeps in, slowly and painfully, I know I am not going to be deported, I know I’m not going to move to Canada, I know I will stay in the US and do my best to actually find a way to stay here, still, and I know that the world hasn’t come to an end.

Because despite being an F1 visa holder foreign student, I’m still privileged. I am here because I had the opportunity to choose to pursue my studies in the first place, and I will still be paid to do so. I will still pay my rent, albeit not without struggle (which is nothing new, really), and I will surely still go out with my friends for a drink or two when I feel like it. Things come to worse, I do have another country to go back to (although things are certainly NOT looking much better in dear old Korea). I also have the luxury to joke and say “Hey, at least we’ve got weed to keep us going on.” (Thank you Massachusetts)

But this is so much bigger than me, bigger than many of us in my circle of friends and acquaintances. I am deeply saddened that people would rather believe they should fear groups of people many of them probably have never met. I can’t understand how people from counties where 96% of the population is white in states like Montana  are so concerned about immigrants they would rather have a racist, sexist, and incompetent leader, and rapist!, for the next four years. I am concerned about the gap between rural and urban areas, and between generations. I am heartbroken to see that many of my students, who exercised their very first vote in this country, realized their votes did not matter after all. I am left without words to see how so many Americans have so little faith in their constitution that they will believe Sharia law will take over their country.

It is devastating to see that fear and hatred of the unknown and mostly of the different, the very basis of the American nation, have taken over the rational and the reason. This is a blow to humanity, not just in the States but everywhere in the world where people feel their fear validated and legitimized to the expense of others.

This is not the end of the world, that’s true, it’s much worse.  We are alive and well to see, feel, and experience the huge step back humanity has chosen to take. It’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of a world, a world in which we dared to believe in love, peace, understanding, and brotherhood.

Yes, the sun did rise today, and will rise tomorrow, but on a world a little less beautiful, a little less peaceful, a little less understanding, a little less united. And to me, that is worse than the end of the world.

Umbrellas and Rain

It rained yesterday.

Teeny tiny drops of rain that turned into some steady streaks for a couple of hours and then ended, not even enough to let the dust and sand settle. The smell of the dust was in the air later when I walked out, along with tiny pools and streams of rain water that had yet to dissipate into the ground.

When I was growing up in Nouadhibou, rain was a big deal, mainly because it occurred so rarely. Although, to be fair, we did have some heavy rain a few times during the 14 years, which had flooded our backyard, our school, and our town overall, unequipped for such large and sudden amount of water. So when it did rain, school was out of question, and my sister and I hurried outside in our garden to play with the unsteady drops of rain, and most importantly to give a little taste to our rainbow-colored umbrellas of what they were actually made for.

I don’t know why my parents bought us those big colorful umbrellas during our first and last visit to Korea. We may have insisted, but that had rarely been an effective strategy for our parents after all. Maybe they thought it would be funny to see us twirl around under the rare rain. Maybe they felt a little sorry for us for not experiencing the full extent of seasons. Whatever the reason may have been, we loved those umbrellas. Sure, looking back, they must have looked god-awful. But back then, they were so big, so colorful, and so special. They even had little tags where you could write down your school and your name, and we did, although we knew they would never leave our front door.

Alas, unsurprisingly, our umbrellas never came to quite fulfill their purpose in life. But they died serving us well for other purposes, sacrificing themselves for our tent-building endeavors alongside their faithful companions, chairs and blankets.

I now hate rain, obviously – you have much more meaningless concerns once you grow up, such as having your shoes, socks and clothes all wet, not bumping into other people’s wet umbrellas and raincoats, and avoiding puddles of water. But once every now and then, especially as I was sitting in my room, watching the feeble rain hit the sand and listening to the constant and regular sound of water landing on can roofs, I remember the two little girls laughing and dancing around barefoot with their umbrellas, to whom staying dry was the least of their concerns.