pop quiz
— allison jiang

On your way to dinner, the taxi driver keeps twisting around in his seat to look at you. He tells you and your father, who is sitting in the passenger’s seat, how sexy he finds Asian women. “They age so well, too,” he says. Do you feel:

a. the ichor of your ancestors

b. thick and angry in your veins

c. the taxi seat under you a throne hurtling through space and time

d. none of these things—instead, you turn your head to your city and drink its dryness,

feigning majesty

You and your father get out of the taxi. He thanks the driver and pays with credit. You study his face very closely. Is it:

a. a programmable LED screen

b. dignified (unflinching?) in the face of degradation

c. none of the above—you know your father very well. He will laugh at the taxi driver later

in the restaurant over steaming soup dumplings. His face is completely imperturbable this

time, just a little tired, and you remind yourself to ask him about his health.  

d. all of the above: it is a depthless black hole you can never stop trying to fathom

You recall the time a young boy pointed at your father on the crowded subway and said, “Look! A Chinaman!” to his mother, with the same exuberance you would expect from a tourist who has just spotted dolphins from the deck of a cruise ship. Your father:

a. glances at the boy’s mother, who does not look up from her book

b. has arranged the corners of his mouth in a way you have never seen before

c. does not look at you

d. all of the above—you rush onto the platform and rejoin your father. You are scared to

look at his face, but when you do, it is just his face again.

That night under the Hudson River there is a traffic jam. Circle all that apply. Do you:

a. detect your tunnel-yellow reflection in the mirror

b. ask your father about his childhood memories

c. laugh

d. inhale the unintelligible breath of millions, again


Allison Jiang is a college student currently studying Writing and English at Johns Hopkins University. She hopes to one day own a large dog, travel the world, and find out who the father of Mindy Kaling’s child is.