A Pick-Up Line
By Kirstin Chen
“What percentage of girls your size do you think you could beat at wrestling?”
This question—maybe a pick-up line, but maybe not—was once posed to me by a random guy in a dank Boston bar. Most girls would have shot the guy a strange look before scrambling as far away from him as possible, or laughed uncomfortably and excused themselves. But here’s the thing, while I generally refrain from talking to strangers and especially strangers at bars, I am obsessed with this issue of size versus strength.
Some context: I am a five-foot-two Chinese woman, formerly a serious runner, now a super-serious yogi; I am constantly defending my strength to whoever will listen (mostly, my husband). Back when we first started dating, I challenged my husband to a push-up contest; he still jokes that I should hustle drunk guys at bars for a little extra cash. I routinely try to goad him into racing me up hills, with or without grocery bags. I beat all the boys in my fourth grade class at arm wrestling.
All of this is just to say that asking someone to defend her strength and gumption probably rarely leads to romance, that is, unless you choose to target a certain subset of highly competitive, small yet strong women. And even then, we’ll most likely spend too much time lecturing you on why it’s a mistake to underestimate small people before firmly shaking your hand and bidding you good night.
Kirstin Chen’s debut novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, is forthcoming in January 2014. She is a former Steinbeck Fellow, and her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Zyzzyva, Hobart, Pank, and others.