By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Well, now I’ve done it.
I didn’t think I would. Actually, I was sure I wouldn’t. I’ve got too much on my plate already. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Even if I wanted to, I just don’t have the time, so no way. It’s just not going to happen. I’m ruling it out. Somebody else will have to do it. It’s not happening. No way, no how.
And yet, for all of my naysaying and absolute rejection of it, I’m doing it.
What am I talking about?
I’ve just “volunteered” to be the chairman of the San Diego Chinese New Year’s Faire.
How on earth did this possibly happen? What could have possibly happened that could compel me to take on this job?
That’s the thing, I didn’t. In the end, my friends did me in.
It started simply enough. I was recently asked to join the board of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. I wasn’t really looking to join another board, but after I got the invitation, I thought it was for a good cause and a terrific museum, and I already knew several people on the board. It’s also important to know that the museum had nothing to do with the Chinese New Year’s Faire.
I attended the first board meeting and all was well, nothing really out of the ordinary … until the very end of the meeting.
Our board chair mentioned that the San Diego Chinese Center was planning to close its doors after many decades of service, and were looking to find another organization to continue organizing the one large event that they put on every year. That event? You guessed it — the San Diego Chinese New Year Faire.
Our board chair then looked around the table, and finally set his eyes on me when he asked, “Wayne, do you think you could help look at the feasibility of us taking this on?”
And for reasons that I will likely never understand, I said, “Sure, I’d be happy to help.”
How it went from my agreeing to do a feasibility study to my chairing the whole thing is a story unto itself, but let’s just say that peer pressure can be a very powerful thing.
Deep down inside, I suspect there is a more meaningful reason.
It was 1990, and I had just moved back to San Diego after working a few years at my first job after graduating from college. I decided I wanted to get involved with the local Chinese community, and I knew that the annual Chinese New Year’s fair was coming up and always needed volunteers. After going to a few volunteer meetings, I was assigned to work at the children’s booth, manning the goldfish pond game.
This game entailed setting up a small plastic pool and filling it with goldfish. Floating on the surface of the water with hundreds of plastic bowls. The point of the game was for kids to buy a ticket, then attempt to toss ping pong balls into the pool. If they landed a ping pong ball into one of the bowls, the kid would win a live goldfish.
The only problem with this game was that it was pouring rain during the fair. And as the rain poured on top of the booth tent, there was some kind of short circuit that was causing a light above me to spark every few minutes, which is a little disconcerting when you’re standing above a big pool of water and handling bags of water with live goldfish in them.
I kept thinking that the headline for the next day’s paper would be: “Man Electrocuted at Children’s Pool … but Goldfish Are Fine.”
So, you can see why I might be a little hesitant to jump back into the whole Chinese New Year fair thing.
Well, except for one thing.
During the volunteer meetings, I got to meet the executive director of the San Diego Chinese Center. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever met. I couldn’t hardly find the nerve to even talk to her, but I think I managed to ask her out for dinner at some point.
Who was this girl?
Her name was Maya, and we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary together.
I may have been nearly electrocuted, but that fair meant the world to me.
So I guess I’m all in.
Wayne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.