As weary parents carried or carted their children down Main Street after a day at Disneyland, we five huddled around a warmly lit table outside the Jolly Holiday Bakery feasting on beignets and Dole Whip.
The ever-irreverent Andy dared Asia to dip a spoonful of the frozen pineapple treat into the pile of powdered sugar leftover in the bag that held the beignets. Of course, that meant we all had to try it. We brought our spoons together and toasted before ingesting the sickeningly sweet combination.
“I’ve never chewed powdered sugar before,” said Shahrukh, who broke from his usual effervescence with a brief grimace. We proved there was no upper limit for laughter in a day, casting our cackles into the night air.
It was a final, silly moment in a day filled with them. We started the day as internet acquaintances and finished it as friends who have a whole host of memories and inside (mostly dirty) jokes to cherish.
After the powdered sugar fiasco, I told my four new friends that time of night was my favorite to be in Disneyland — families and friends bond together under the Main Street lights as they decompress after a day of rides and parades, thrills and wonder, love and laughter.
I didn’t point out that that’s why I was so happy in that moment, but I hoped the message was understood.
As a person who only just qualifies as a millennial, I was late to finding “subtle asian traits” on Facebook. My social circle is not centered around memes or the culture of young adult Asians who are discovering themselves, so I wasn’t exposed to SAT until it intersected with my work (a local boba shop made waves when it flavored a drink with a traditional Chinese cough syrup).
I joined to see just how viral the post about the drink went, and I chuckled here and there at the memes about boba and Asian baby girls. When I noticed the spinoff group “subtle asian dating,” I joined because I finally felt ready to date again after ending my 10-year relationship months before.
What I found was that SAD was basically a meat market for hard-bodied college kids to “auction” off their friends via what amounts to publicly posted meme-filled dating profiles. I was ready to leave that group when I found “subtle asian leftovers,” which I read was intended to be a 25+ version of SAD. That sounded pretty promising.
I was underwhelmed. The group ended up being less of a singles group and more about discussing relationships, which is fine, but discussion threads had very little dialogue. It was mostly people trying to get the attention of the group’s more popular members, with substantive comments getting buried in 200+ comment threads. I contemplated leaving all of these groups, but then someone in SAL planned a Disneyland meetup in March.
Anyone who knows me knows of my love for Disney and Disneyland, so I said yes without hesitation and put off my plans to leave. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured if the meetup ended up being lame, I could easily leave because I wouldn’t have to pay for a day ticket like the others.
Needless to say, I went in expecting very little, which was proven to be a mistake very quickly that Wednesday.
After receiving several unexpected work phone calls and driving through a sudden-yet-brief rain storm, I made it to Disneyland not long after the first two people got there. Asia and Dabie, who were delightfully excitable and in desperate need of reminders to proclaim their love for shiitake mushrooms instead a certain curse word, were in line to pay for Minnie Mouse ear headbands when I approached them.
Asia was like a kid in a candy shop. She might be in her 30s, but she exuded more joy than most of the children coming into the park. I got her a button to commemorate her first visit, and she showed her characteristic warmth when she was far more grateful than anyone has ever been for a cheap button ever before. It was clear it would be my pleasure to play tour guide to someone so exuberant.
Dabs’ laugh is infectious and is only rivaled by her bubbly charm. She was at least a little creeped out when I walked up to Asia and her, but her fears were allayed when I pointed out that they had shared a picture of themselves in the hat store not five minutes earlier. We had a good laugh about it, which is probably a statement that could be applied to everything we did and said that day.
We strolled onto Main Street, and the girls were captivated by the sights, sounds and costumed characters with whom they wanted pictures. Shahrukh joined us not long after, and we set off to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and everything else we could fit into a day.
Shahrukh was soft-spoken but filled with excitement and positivity about the day, as he seems to be about all things. As a student and entrepreneur with big goals, he could have been intimidating but countered that with almost extreme effusiveness and humility.
Andy joined us a ride later at the Haunted Mansion but didn’t talk to us for at least 20 minutes as he helped a “homie” through a relationship situation. We didn’t really get to talk to him until we got off of the Winnie the Pooh ride, but he rounded out our group perfectly.
If I were to draw up an Asian American alpha male who grew up in Southern California, Andy would be the prototype. He has a big, brash personality for which he’s unapologetic, but underneath all that swagger he’s got a heart of gold.
With our group complete, we hit all the highlights — Asia and Dabs screamed their heads off on Guardians of the Galaxy and the Incredicoaster and Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. We had a serious conversation about asking people out and crossing that barrier from friends to more, and we made raunchy jokes that even made some other people in line laugh (you know you’re with a good-humored group when a joke about human centipede becomes the running gag of the night). We devoured lobster nachos at Lamplight Lounge then danced it off to Mickey’s Mix Magic.
I may be speaking out of turn, but for me, it was one of those group bonding experiences that none of us is likely to forget anytime soon. I’ve been to Disneyland countless times with different friend groups, and this is the only one I’ve chosen to write about after.
Andy posted our many pictures from the trip in SAL, and people were legitimately jealous they couldn’t or didn’t come with us. I get that — our pictures were a lot of fun because we were having a great time. None of it was fake or manufactured or forced.
Maybe that’s it exactly. There’s so much insincerity in the world of dating and relationships these days, and perhaps our earnest, even wholesome, display of joy left others longing for the same. One thing we discussed while waiting in line was the implication of the term leftover in the name of the group that brought us all together.
Was it because we were still not in committed relationships? Was it because we were castoffs from SAD? Was it because we were getting old?
There was no consensus, and I’m not sure it matters. Someone came up with that name and it stuck, but there’s nothing left over about Andy or Asia or Dabs or Shahrukh. Each is an amazing person in their own right, but together they made for the best company any of us could ask for.