“Whoa, you’re so red!”
This is what people’s reaction would be after I take my first glass or bottle of alcohol. I’ve lived with it, but it hinders me of taking more since people would be afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get up of my chair after seeing a bolied sunburned look on my face.
I had my first alcohol when I was 15 (yes, it’s illegal, sshhh) and I know that I was one of those that drank the least in highschool just because I couldn’t cope with the aftermath: giddiness, racing heartbeat, and of course, the blushing.
After several years of occasional drinking, I don’t get so much of giddiness anymore, but still couldn’t get rid of the blushing. I know when I’m about to blush as I can feel when the blood starts going up to my face and I’ll feel feverish.
After a quick research, I came to know that the reason of this flush is because I seem to suffer from aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme deficiency that leads to a much slower process for the alcohol to be metabolized and thus, flushing and other discomforts occur. I don’t know whether this is related, but I also have a problem with digestive/gastric enzyme which basically prohibits me from eating too fast and skipping meals because I will get terrible stomach ache. My body is just slow in everything!
Anyways, I feel embarrassed and self-conscious of this whole situation. I will get blotchy on my cheeks, my eyes will look even smaller and red spots will crawl to my arms and thighs. I need to reject the offer when it comes to drinking with “new people” because I don’t want to show them my Asian glow, although I’d love to drink with them. Either way, I feel like a loser. Weird.
Many of my friends don’t have this thing, though I know that it occurs to most East Asians. It’s genetic, they say. I guess it’s from my dad since I never really saw my mom get a red face. I know I’m not alone and after reading some online discussions, some non-Asians also have the same experience, which somehow makes me feel better. I also found that some Asians take certain over-the-counter medications in prior to drinking sessions to minimize the Asian glow. I might search for some similar ones in where I live.
I know I’m not a drinking queen, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t handle a couple of drinks.What people mostly don’t get is that what I feel inside of my body is not the same as what it looks like outside, and it bothers me. Yes, I look like a pouched lobster, but trust me, I’m really okay!!!
I guess this passage from The Kitchn passes the message rather loud and clear:
“So should you find yourself drinking with an Asian friend who isn't so lucky, remember there's no need to tell her she is red. Her burning-hot face, pounding heart and creeping nausea have already told her everything she needs to know. She's red — so what?”