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121_box_348x490_originalAlternative Viet #1: This Viet knows what he wants and gets it, always. In high school, this Viet isn’t the shy and sheltered teenager who is constantly surprised to discover that his classmates are, indeed, having sex. Instead, this Viet is sexually active and sophisticated, having both male and female lovers. This Viet doesn’t stare at people longingly, wondering what it would be like to love and feel love, but is already jaded about the whole deal, with the insouciance of a European playboy. This Viet doesn’t stay home on the weekends, listening to Saint Etienne’s So Tough album on endless repeat, translating British ennui into a more pedestrian, suburban heartbreak. No. This Viet is not at all like the other one.

Alternative Viet #2: This Viet has adopted Viet #1 as his own. It’s college, after all: who here knows who the ‘real’ Viet is, except for the daughter of the Asian supermarket owner? And how often will their paths cross? Very rarely, this Viet realizes. The time has come for a reinvention, for a radical makeover, and this Viet can be whoever he wants. This Viet creates his own myths and disseminates them as far as they will travel, because if enough people believe a story, doesn’t it, in fact, become true, like a dream made flesh? If he insists on the primacy of this Viet, the other Viets will fade away, become distant, apocryphal memories, almost as if they never existed, and no one would be the wiser.

Alternative Viet #3: This Viet is in trouble. He has been called to the carpet to reconcile the differences between the various Viets.  B___ waits for him to explain. B___ is this Viet’s first boyfriend, and this Viet wants to get this right. But the history he has given B___ does not comport with the histories of Viets #1 and #2, which Viet’s friends have shared. How can there be so many Viets running around? Who is the ‘real’ Viet? B___ says that he understands the urge to become someone new. Who doesn’t want to be cooler than he really is? B___ says, even though B___, himself, has gone the opposite direction, converting to Catholicism from Protestantism because Protestants aren’t ‘by the Book’ enough. This Viet wonders: what difference would it make if the history he’s told B___ is the ‘real’ history—the virginal history, the history of sexually inexperience and ineptitude? What if all the Viets have begun to bleed together, the confidence of the other Viets giving this one more of a sense of self-worth? Why would anyone ever want to be a normal Viet, confused and stumbling about, when there are other Viets out there in the world, Viets who know what they’re doing, Viets who make no apologies, Viets who might be able to tell him the right thing to say to B___ so that the surgical excision of the other Viets from this one won’t hurt as much.

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