Getting Rid Of My Asian Flush


Asian glow, anyone?

You know you’ve seen it among your Asian American friends. With the consumption of alcohol, some of us turn bright pink or red beet blotchy. And it’s not just the face. Mine’s not too bad and disappears after an hour or so but my body is trying to tell me something with the reaction.

Almost exactly ten years ago, I spent spring break in Cancun. It was freshmen year and we were staying at an all-inclusive resort so the drinks were flowing. A tequila sunrise, piña colada and bright blue who-knows-what carried me through the sunny, lazy day until I got to the nightclub with more drinks in my system than I could remember to count, the slew of cocktails left me blacked out on the dance floor. I’m a trooper though — I shook off the remote subconsciousness, went to the bathroom to throw up, then returned to keep shaking my booty. Oh, to be young and fun again.

My grandfather drinks cans of beer like bottled water, literally with every meal. Me on the other hand, I don’t handle my alcohol well. Genetically, the odds are against me. This makes me a cheap date, according to my collegiate research paper on the mitochondrial enzyme that breaks down alcohol properly, or lack thereof as is the case with Korean Americans. To combat the flush, I tried Pepcid AC once before consumption and was recently sent a new Indiegogo campaign product that promises the reduction of redness. I still felt a little warm in the face after one beer but as with most blurry situations, couldn’t really tell if I would get a buzz as the night wore on or not.

On my most recent trip to Mexico, a new amiga from Monterrey opined how many drinkers abuse alcohol, especially tequila. She taught me the proper way to sip the 100% agave liquor and almost swish it around, letting it slowly coat your throat instead of burning it, with people around you screaming “shots! shots! shots!” Peer pressure sucks; I prefer this more… sophisticated cheers to life with libations.

Throughout the years I’ve temporarily taken out many things from my diet like coffee, chocolate and soda (aka Lent). Movies have glamorized smoking and frat-club style drinking. But these days some celebrities like Kim Kardashian are well-known to stay sober. And call me old and boring but I was born not to be the late-night partying type either. Besides, alcohol is technically a drug and I’d rather be high on life than wasted in a blur. I remember my first Daybreaker, an early morning weekdy sober dance party pre-empted by a yoga session. It was strange to think this club was packed with the inebriated just a few hours ago. But it’s still dark inside and you let go of your inhibitions to frolick around strangers, stimulated by coffee served at the bar. In the end it was just as as sweaty fun.

I’m not saying I won’t drink again, I’m just taking it slow and easy and not letting it be a go-to option. I remember playing the part of suburban housewife in my own life by having a glass of wine with dinner in front of the couch every night. Those days are over. I’d rather meet over coffee, not drinks. I could still enjoy happy hour with sparkling water. Another option is to just tell people and myself I’m allergic. After all, you don’t question people’s biological aversions to gluten or peanut butter. Technically, I guess I am. Alcohol’s nice to loosen any of us up, but presently I choose not to make it a requisite lifestyle choice.