Modern Love Podcast: The ‘Ham Sandwich’ Effect

Hes in his 30s now, hes married, and hes still navigating his relationship with his parents and their values.Hey, Andrew.andrew limbongHey, Anna.anna martinAndrew, how long has it been given that you wrote this essay?andrew limbongSo 2011– it was my senior year of college, so it would have been about like 10 years.anna martinHow does it feel for you to revisit the essay now?andrew limbongIt does feel a little cringey to me, due to the fact that 10 years was long earlier, but its not far enough long ago that I feel sufficient elimination from that person that I can look at it with distance and see, like, oh, youre doing something, buddy. You understand what I mean?anna martinI understand the type.andrew limbongBut I think Ive sort of come to terms with like where I am in my faith, and that I dont really think it, but I like the dance moves. Like my mother would always require me to help her in the kitchen area and stuff like that? You ever see those moms and dads where its like– and their kid has like a Black Flag T-shirt, and the moms and dads are simply like, oh yeah, my kid enjoys Black Flag. You know, like I do not want to prop them up in that sort of way.That being stated, if they were to find out– if they were to later on like actually like Black Flag and Indonesian food, I d be like, oh thats sick.

[style music] archived recording 1Love now and always.archived recording 2Did you fall in love last time?archived recording 3I love you.archived taping 4Love was more powerful than anything.archived recording 5Feel the love.archived recording 6Love. archived recording 7And I love you more than anything.archived recording 8(SINGING) What is love?archived recording 9Heres to love.archived recording 10Love. anna martinFrom The New York Times, Im Anna Martin. This is the Modern Love podcast.So every few years, Modern Love has a college essay contest. There are countless submissions. The majority of them come in at the last minute– like actually the eleventh hour. These are college students.This weeks essay became part of the contest back in 2011, and I enjoy how vulnerable the author is in this story. I was absolutely not this vulnerable at 21. Its called “Eating the Forbidden Ham Sandwich,” composed and checked out by Andrew Limbong. [MUSIC] andrew limbongAt 8 in the morning, I expected some old female to be working behind the counter of the pharmacy– the type of person who normally gets up at 6 a.m. anyway.Instead, there was this young person in tight jeans and one of those faux keffiyeh headscarfs. When he asked me if I needed anything, I stepped aside to let my sweetheart Sam walk up to the counter.”Yeah, a morning-after pill,” she said.He stated, “We have Plan B and a generic. Which one do you want?”Sam took a look at me as if I would understand. I made a face Sam knows all too well that stated, “Uh?” “How much is the generic?” Sam asked.”$10 cheaper.”She looked at me again, then stated, “Ill take the generic.””OK, thatll be $35.” I paid, we went home, Sam took the tablet, and Im not a father– all excellent. However something felt off.Had that proverbial old female lagged the counter that morning, I think I would have been more comfy. Well really, I would have been a lot less comfy at the pharmacy, but I think that would have made me feel more comfy about the situation as a whole. Because we would have fulfilled the archetype that I believed our story was expected to fulfill: Young couple has sex, condom breaks, they feel ashamed buying a morning after pill, and nobody speaks about it after.But as it took place, there was absolutely no pity in it at all. Everything was great, and I was joking about it later that day. However it still bothered me.On my first day of college, my mom took me aside. She held my shoulders tightly and told me not to hug any girls, due to the fact that theyll lie, state I raped them, and after that Ill go to prison. Either that, or Ill get them pregnant.It wasnt the first time I was hearing this. I nodded along, quite particular that the opportunities of a woman accusing me of rape since I hugged her werent very high. I understood a great deal of my mothers attitudes toward women and sex were wrong, but that didnt keep me from absorbing some of it.Both of my moms and dads are Indonesian immigrants. They grew up in a rigorous Christian household, and they did their best to impart all elements of their home culture to me. My father never ever spoke to me about sex. We never sat down and had the talk that appears to only occur on television. I constantly knew we were a various kind of family from the ones I viewed on a nightly basis, due to the fact that nobody on “Full House” ever got in trouble for kissing a boy, as my sis as soon as did.I never ever got that far when I was more youthful. There was something about girls that scared me. This isnt unusual, however many people seem to get over it someplace around high school. By the time I was 20, I still had this illogical worry of rape, prison, pregnancy, God and my mom. It resulted in feeling lonesome a lot, however a minimum of I knew I wasnt alone.My pal Haroon calls this worry the “ham sandwich” effect. Like me, hes a first-generation American born to a religious family. Hes Muslim. His moms and dads would tell him not to eat pork, since its evil and God will send you to hell.But one day, he was 16 and curious, so why not? He purchased a ham sandwich, ate it and after that tossed up. He attempted once again though, and was ultimately able to consume ham sandwiches like any other American.It was the very same way with sex. A great deal of individuals experience the ham sandwich impact, especially first-generation Americans. You can decline the parent culture all you desire, however the more major the circumstance, the harder it is to get over. When I was 20, and sex is very serious.I met Sam. Shes my first sweetheart, my first sexual partner and the very first woman Ive ever kissed two times. Fortunately for me, she was extremely patient throughout this whole process, and it really was a process.Over the course of one term, Sam and I went from being buddies of good friends to constructing out in my bed on a nighttime basis. There was nakedness and there was touching, however it never ever went any further than that, because I always felt my mom existed in my room, too.Sometimes she would be being in the chair throughout the space holding a Bible. In some cases she would simply be casually standing by the wall beside my bed. As soon as I even saw a vision of her in my space with my imaginary teenage kid, who started utilizing heroin due to the fact that I provided him up for adoption.These characters– these figures put pressure on my blood vessels, not permitting the blood to go where I oh so frantically wanted it to.It resembled this for a month. Sam was patient, but I didnt desire her persistence to go out. I called Haroon. At this moment, he had currently made love, or “consumed the ham sandwich,” as we liked to state. He laughed when I called, but not condescendingly. He had become something of an expert in overcoming the ham sandwich effect.He ran off a list of individuals we both knew in comparable circumstances whom he had actually coached through this sort of thing. His recommendations? Breathe a lot, do some push-ups and dont really think of it.Stop considering her as an individual, he told me. People are animals, and having sex is a natural thing that animals do all the time. He probably could have worded it in a different way, however I was comforted by the simple fact that he overcame it and was now eating ham sandwiches on a regular basis.That kind of accomplishment wasnt truly my objective, but I did need to stop thinking of it so much. I required to distance myself from my fears, my religious beliefs, my mom, Sam and even myself. I did, and it happened.I dont blame my mother for how difficult it was for me to have sex– to have any sort of physical relationship with females at all. Thats how she was taught, and she was just attempting to do her best with me. Really, unlike Haroon, I appreciated my mothers old-school leanings for making sex so difficult. Overcoming the psychological blocks appeared like an accomplishment, an achievement– something worth doing.I attempted describing all of this to her once.The term before I met Sam, I was studying in London. My parents visited me, and my mom and I walked around my campus.She asked me a lot about ladies. Apparently, she thought I went to London to go on a wild sex romp. She seemed practically disappointed when I informed her no.There was a glassy, damp look in her eye, and she asked me if I was gay. And I said no, I was just ruined. She nodded.My mother certainly wasnt friendly with the concept of homosexuality, however on that walk, for the first time I understood that if I were gay, she might actually be all right with it. It was nice to know.Haroon calls it the ham sandwich, I informed her. When it came to sex, and I told her about the spiritual pressure and the consistent clashing of Eastern and Western ideals. She stopped walking, so I put my arm around her. Then she apologized to me. She had never done that before, and shes never done it because, but that little bit of development was nice.So when the kaffiyeh headscarf guy in the drug store offered Sam that morning after pill, I think what was missing out on for me was the routine of seriousness– the sense of progress that I was doing something big. If the old woman had been behind that counter that morning, I d like to believe I would have asked quietly for the tablet. I would have paid the additional $10 for the brand. I probably likewise would have selected up some toothpaste and deodorant to act as if I was simply doing this casual thing that didnt imply much to me. I would have understood that she believed it was severe, and that would have been enough. [MUSIC] anna martinComing up, weve got Andrew Limbongs update. Hes in his 30s now, hes married, and hes still navigating his relationship with his parents and their values.Hey, Andrew.andrew limbongHey, Anna.anna martinAndrew, the length of time has it been given that you wrote this essay?andrew limbongSo 2011– it was my senior year of college, so it would have been about like 10 years.anna martinHow does it feel for you to revisit the essay now?andrew limbongIt does feel a little cringey to me, since 10 years was long back, but its not far enough long ago that I feel adequate removal from that individual that I can look at it with distance and see, like, oh, youre doing something, buddy. I see where youre going, right? Its like short enough that its still a part of me.You know, the core of the essay is embarassment? And made complex sensations about embarassment. And I dont say like what its good for, however Im sort of just used to a continuous, ever-present sense of shame. I still sort of have this burden of mixed sensations about the majority of things, including relationships and sex and all of that stuff.anna martinOK. You said you composed this in 2011. Im sure a lot has actually taken place in that time, and capture me up. Are you and Sam still together?andrew limbongYeah, were married.anna martinNo way! Congratulations.andrew limbongYeah, yeah. Yeah, thank you.anna martinI absolutely like the ham sandwich metaphor that you utilize throughout your piece. I can guarantee you I will never ever think of a ham sandwich the exact same method once again. And I imply, your very first ham sandwich was sex. Im questioning, were there any other customs passed down to you by your moms and dads that you had to grapple with in some way?andrew limbongThe religion thing is amusing, since Ive become one of those individuals that I utilized to make enjoyable of as a kid that just reveals up to church on like Christmas and Easter. You know what I mean?anna martinI know the type.andrew limbongBut I think Ive sort of come to terms with like where I remain in my faith, which I dont actually think it, but I like the dance moves. You understand what I indicate? And I appreciate the sort of tradition of it, even if I dont– even if Im not 100% bought in.anna martinWhen did you feel like you initially started interrogating the faith element of how you were raised?andrew limbongTheres an episode of “Frasier” where he plays his father at chess, right? And theres this entire thing about whether Frasier beats his daddy at chess. And when he does, hes sort of crushed, because its like a symbol of love crushing your father.And so I remember finding out more about the Bible and about religious beliefs and asking my papa these concerns that he didnt really have the answer to. And I think in between 15 and 18, 19, it ended up being clear that, oh, he does not have any of these responses. He doesnt have any– he doesnt have any of the answers to the concerns Im asking.And so I believe that was sort of like the very first sort of break– anna martinTrue.andrew limbong– in all of that.anna martinDo you believe youll ever be truthful with your moms and dads about where your faith is best now?andrew limbongProbably not. We dont have any kids yet, Sam and I. We were simply thinking that if we do, I picture my folks will come down and do that thing where they remain over for a scooch too long to help out and stuff like that. And I imagine well go to church each week, and well do the dance.anna martinWhat are you scared of, if you were truthful with your parents?andrew limbongHalf of it resembles a regard thing, right? Like every Indonesian on earth smoke cigs, right? Not every– but its like a great deal of Indonesians smoke cigs, right? And everyone knows everybody smoke cigs.But when Im in Indonesia with my cousins, we do not smoke cigarettes in front of our moms and dads, because thats like a regard thing. You go to the back if theyre in the room, or you go upstairs or whatever. Since my parents ask me every week, you go literally anywhere else.And so I think maintaining this dance that we do–. Oh, did you go to church? Im like, oh yeah, sure. And its like it d be insane for them to not know.anna martinSure.andrew limbongBut as long as they keep the dance up, Ill keep the dance up, and well just keep dancing till forever.anna martinThe exterior is sort of a method– sort of a way that youre showing your love to your moms and dads. Does that feel fair to say?andrew limbongYeah, I believe so.anna martinYour story is a lot about shedding family custom, however Im curious the other side, too. Im questioning if there were things that you likewise kept about the method your moms and dads raised you.andrew limbongOh, Ive been– its difficult, but Ive been trying to cook more Indonesian things. Like my mama would constantly force me to assist her in the kitchen and things like that? And so thats where I got all my standard cooking area skills.Yeah, so food customs is something that we consider, and particularly, once again, like I said, we dont have any kids. Ive been believing about like if we do, how Indonesian are these kids going to be? And truly, Sam resembles, their Indonesian-ness is not my responsibility. This has got to be a you thing, my man. And Im like, yeah, I understand, however I do not know, dude.And yeah. And I believe food is probably the most convenient method to get a kid to get some culture actually inside of them? Therefore its something Ive been trying to work on.anna martinSo when you believe about and Sam having kids, tell me more about the obligation that you feel surrounding their Indonesian-ness. Andrew limbongI want them to be totally free to make their own decisions to be interested in that? I dont desire to require anything on them. I mean, its difficult. You ever see those parents where its like– and their kid has like a Black Flag T-shirt, and the parents are simply like, oh yeah, my kid enjoys Black Flag. Its like, no, they do not. Come on, guy. Who are you? Like who are you like playing [INAUDIBLE] You understand, like I dont wish to prop them up because sort of way.That being said, if they were to discover– if they were to later like really like Black Flag and Indonesian food, I d resemble, oh thats sick. Hell yeah, that rocks.anna martinYou compose that a lot of kids of immigrants have their own individual ham sandwiches. And Im wondering what is some suggestions that you would provide to them as they prepare to take their very first bites?andrew limbongMy guidance is that its Okay if its hard? And I think one of the important things I sort of cringe at in the thing is framing this as exclusively an immigrant story, right? I think a lot of kids who matured in the States grew up with like a religion or some sort of repression, right? Repression isnt– immigrants dont own a repression story? I believe simply the concept that its OK that what seems so easy to other kids might appear– might be challenging for you, whichs fine.anna martinThank you a lot, Andrew– genuinely. What a treat to speak to you.andrew limbongGreat, thank you. This is fantastic. [MUSIC] anna martinOur program is produced by Julia Botero and Hans Buetow. Its edited by Sarah Sarasohn. This episode was blended by Corey Schreppel and Marion Lozano. Dan Powell developed our Modern Love style music. The initial music in this episode is by Marion Lozano.Digital production by Mahima Chablani and Des Ibekwe, and an unique thanks to Ryan Wegner at Audm. Modern Love was established by Dan Jones. Miya Lee is the editor of Modern Love projects.Modern Love has a virtual occasion showing up. On March 9th at 7 p.m., we hope youll join us for The Morning at Night, a live stream event from The New York Timess everyday newsletter, The Morning. Get it? The Morning at Night?Well share romance composed by readers and checked out by Oscar candidate Ariana DeBose. Itll be a lot of enjoyable. You can RSVP free of charge at Im Anna Martin. Thanks for listening.

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