Anything But Clothes

Alcoholic Beverage Consumption

American Born Chinese

The acronym “ABC” has been used to describe many different things.  When I talked to Helene about these, she explained that she had never heard of some of these until recently. Helene was born and raised in France with her mother and her sister.  Her father currently lives in Toronto, Canada.  She came to America for the first time in 2008 when she was moving into her dorm room at USC in Los Angeles, California.  She told me that she had heard of the acronym “ABC” being used to describe “Anything But Clothes,” but had never heard of “Alcoholic Beverage Consumption” or “American Born Chinese” until she had spent some time on the college campus.

She thinks that the first time she heard “Anything But Clothes” was when she was in our equivalent of high school in France.  She said she thinks it was only a couple years before she came to USC and that it was a party that she had been invited to.  The concept of “Anything But Clothes” is a theme for a party where people are encouraged to dress up using objects and items rather than clothes.  For instance, Helene said that she dressed up by using caution tape and wrapping it all over her body in order to cover her private areas.

I have also heard of this party theme before as well.  I too did not hear about it until I arrived at college.  The rules I know for the theme are the same as the rules Helene described to me.

Helene told me that she heard “Alcoholic Beverage Consumption” for the first time at her in her dorm room.  She said that she was talking to a few of her roommates about a party they were going to go to and heard them use the acronym.  Thinking they meant “Anything But Clothes,” she asked what they would be wearing instead of clothes.  The miscommunication was quickly realized when her roommates explained their confusion for her question.  That was when she learned the new use of the acronym.  According to her roommates, “Alcoholic Beverage Consumption” refers to the amount of alcohol an individual has consumed and is typically used to describe an excessive consumption of alcohol.  For instance, “He better watch his ABC; he seems to be getting pretty tipsy.”

I had never heard this form of the acronym before Helene told me about it.  I find it interesting and kind of silly.  It doesn’t make much sense to me.

Finally, Helene told me she heard of “American Born Chinese.”  She told me she heard this when she was with some of her friends.  One of her classmates was describing herself as an ABC.  Confused, Helene asked her to explain.  Her friend explained that often, Chinese people born in America refer to themselves as ABCs in order to easily differentiate between those from America and international individuals.  Helene told me she finds this categorization amusing and silly.  She then began to joke, “You’re an ABC! You’re and ABC!”

I have heard of this use of the acronym before; in fact, it was the only form of the acronym that I knew before this interview. I learned it in high school through other Chinese peers who asked me if I was an ABC. I find the classification silly, but I suppose it is convenient when trying to quickly learn about people when meeting other Chinese people.