I’m pretty sure I’ve celebrated everybody in our patchwork of a postcolonial family in my blog now except for one key and vitally important piece. Without him, we wouldn’t be postcolonial at all. Without him, our family quilt would be fairly uniform in color and personality (though far from dull because it would be all Southern and Southerners are anything but dull. We keep a lot of crazy in our closet and we take it out and parade it around with pride on special occasions, like trips to Kroger or booster club meetings, but still…) Without him, we wouldn’t have our usually sweet and sometimes sour toddler twin dumplings. So today, I’m turning the spotlight on the one person who gives our family the diversity and exoticism of the far East and the Up North. The person who gives me, personally, the courage and the determination to keep travelling along this steep and thorny path through life and twindom: my husband, Mike. He is my inspiration, my strength, my champion, my love. He has no idea how many times his random texts, his smile and his sweet notes in my lunch bag keep me going on a daily basis.
Mike is a giant of a man. He is what the Lilliputians would call a Man Mountain; a Colossus. He is a mountainous, six foot, three-hundred-pound colossus of an Asian man. Now I know the juxtaposition of giant and Asian may seem like an oxymoron — face it, when you think Asian, you think smart and small, maybe with black-rimmed glasses and awesome, enviable hair. And I’m not saying Mike’s not smart (because he is – wickedly so), but he’s definitely not small (he gets that from his Italian side), he doesn’t wear glasses, and his hair is shaved off weekly until he’s totally and completely bald. So he’s my favorite paradox — my bald, giant Asian man. And he is a giant in so many ways beyond just his size – from his generosity to his sense of humor, from his drive and dedication, to his capacity for love.
I’ll start with Mike’s generosity – which is ginormous. He’s like a bald, slant-eyed Santa Claus. He showers me with the sweetest of surprises — little things that mean so much, like buckets of real movie theater popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, and bottles of wine because he knows they’re my favorite combos or big surprises that are just the epitome of perfect, like the flock of flamingos on my fiftieth because he knows I have an unhealthy obsession with pink plastic yard art. And the presents don’t stop with me. The boys get little special somethings for no particular reason quite often too. Most recently, Tate got a B-I-N-G-O book (his new favorite nursery rhyme) and for Parker, a monster truck school bus (his new favorite vehicle).
Mike’s sense of humor is boundless – and I do mean boundless. As in, there are no boundaries. His languages are English, sarcasm and sexual innuendo. His wit is quick and acerbic and his wordplay is bawdy. He’s a veritable Italian-Korean Chaucer – able to twist innocent statements into double entendre in seconds flat. “That’s what she said,” is still his favorite go-to phrase and he’s always willing to throw in a couple of “deez nuts” for good measure, but he’s definitely not limited to the tried and true. And he picks on anyone and everyone equally, himself included — particularly when it comes to Asian stereotypes. (Just take a look at his celebrity look-alike facebook profile) And the boys don’t escape his jokes either — as is evidenced in THEIR celebrity look-alikes…
Now as far as his drive and dedication, it is unmatched — whether it’s in marriage, football, or fatherhood. Mike juggles more than his fair share in all three of these roles trying to be a successful and dutiful husband, coach, and dad. And he succeeds at all three. On any given day during the season he makes lunches, does laundry, teaches six classes, studies film, grades players, runs schemes, attends practice, washes dishes, and finally, loves on the boys and then me – even if it’s just for a few quick minutes (That’s what she said….) I am truly in awe of his drive, his dedication, and his dexterity (TWSS).
Now if I’m to paint an accurate picture here, Mike’s enormous characteristics are not necessarily limited to merely the positive. He has other larger than life traits, too, like an iron will and a stubborn streak rivaled only by my own. At times, the two of us can reach stalemates that dynamite could scarcely rattle. Usually they’re over dumb shit — like who picks dinner (we both tend to defer to the other – over and over and over) or most recently, over who actually despises Trump more. Oh, and Mike has a super sharp temper that flashes in thunderous rages. It is very rarely seen and never shown toward me or the boys. It usually involves DIY home projects. (If he’s wielding a hammer or a saw, I’m leaving before he finds his frustration threshold. He’s been known to punch walls and put holes in sheetrock.) The only other occasions (besides football) where I’ve seen his fiery temper unleashed is when someone threatens his loved ones. Then, as Mr. T used to say, “I pity the fool…
Which brings me to his enormous capacity for love. Mike is fueled by a love more intense, more protective, more genuine, more burning than any love I’ve ever known. He has taught me what love truly is and what love really means. I believe it now when I see that familiar Corinthians’ passage: love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It always protects, always, trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Because Mike is all of these things for me and for mine. He is my three-hundred-pound Asian teddy bear. And he’s also my giant, three-hundred-pound Asian enigma — a puzzle of mammoth proportions…
Because he picked me. Me.
He never should have. I am his exact opposite. I’m an eighties girl; he’s a nineties guy. I’m laidback; he’s got OCD. I played piano. He played football. I was a book nerd. He was a meathead. His family is quiet and reserved. Mine is loud and ballsy. But we did have one thing going for us: some lyrics from a Journey song. Ten years ago, I was just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world and he was a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit. And the two of us refused to stop believing.
Just yesterday, I discovered a new song with new lyrics that express exactly how I have felt about my mountainous, six foot, three-hundred-pound colossus of an Asian man from the first kiss, Christmas break ten years ago, to right now, this very second:
You still make me nervous when you walk in the room
Them butterflies they come alive when I’m next to you
Over and over the only truth
Everything comes back to you
I love you, Mike Candela.