It was the only Filipino martial arts class that I found in Queens.
And I was the only Filipino in it.
Even my teacher was white.
So, when another Filipino showed up one night,
I got so excited
That I came up to him
Speaking in Tagalog.
But all he did
Was give me one, long look,
Raise his eyebrow
“Uh, I don’t speak Tagalog.”
I never spoke to him after.
And he went to every other martial arts class in our dojo
Except the Filipino weapons one.
As it turns out,
He was an incoming freshman
At my college.
I walk into our student org room
And there he was.
He wasn’t so rude, after all.
And it changed
When one night, in our dojo
I was persuaded by my sensei to stay for jujitsu
A martial arts which entails a lot of body contact
And he had been assigned to teach me.
I had to keep myself from laughing
At how emabarassed he was
When, at one point, he had to be on top of me
Just to teach me a hold and a choke
And he became more than an uppity kid
Who didn’t know Tagalog
I kissed him in a roomful
Of noisy chaotic college kids
And he started learning Tagalog.