i am not from a big family. the typical nuclear family. my childhood memories are filled with aromas of pho, spring rolls and hot dogs, flan, and frozen orange juice popsicles. i remember going to other kid's homes and their families didn't eat pho. they didn't eat rice everyday or snack on shrimp chips or cold lychees. i was a freak. what kid's mom packs them lychees and mangos for dessert along with tuna fried rice? oh mine did. i remember sitting in the cafeteria in first grade with a hello kitty lunchbox that smelled of spilled milk. my mom put milk in my thermos in hopes perhaps that i would sprout and not always be the shortest kid in class. i would sit and not drink this warm milk and look longingly at the other kid's pbj and capri suns. i would think, wow, their parents buy the cool foods!
lunch was difficult for me. the kid who eats shrimp chips does not attract friends. so i would usually quickly my lunch and take walks outside for recess, collecting acorns and looking at ants. (wow, how the hell do i have friends now?!)
when i would go home, my dad would be home already since he worked the night shift. my dad to me is john rambo. he can do no wrong. he would often sneak a pack of hubba bubba blueberry bubble gum to my sister and i when he returned with my mom buying groceries. he also bought us the thriller album and got me a loverboy folder so i could store my violin music. my dad is the top of the pops.
summer vacations were slow for me. we didn't have money to vacation so my sister and i would enter every library reading contest and win. i would read all the recommended reading the teachers suggested. twice. summer was a time when we both got to spend more time with our dad since he would come home from work in the mornings. he would make us cereal and we all would watch get smart and marine boy. it was lovely. i would think to myself, i love summer vacations!
one day, i recall sitting on the bathtub's edge watching my dad shave. it was amazing. he had whip cream on his face and he would comb it with some stick and then his moustache was gone. i was in awe. i asked my dad what happened to his face. he laughed and said, "daddy more handsome now." "i liked the moustache!" "no, daddy no need. better now."
the next day, i entered the bathroom and i wanted to comb my face. i found the "comb" and in grandiose manner began brushing it in quick strokes on my face. no sooner had i done this feat, did my face start to burn. the razor had cut into my chin. red blood started to drip from my face. i screamed. my mom ran up the stairs to see me in the bathroom dripping blood onto the black and white tiled floor. i started to cry. that is what you do as a kid. you cry when you are hurt, confused, angry. i was all of the above. my mom cleaned me up and even blew on the cuts as she cleaned it with antiseptic. she kept saying, "why you do this? you need to do more schoolwork. then you don't get into trouble." i didn't say a word. i was rehashing what i did and why it hurt. it didn't hurt my dad. i was like columbo, i was examining clues.
that nite i didn't get dessert. my mom told my dad what i had done. i could tell they were upset with me. we weren't allowed to leave the dinner table unless we asked to be excused. i asked and i went to my room. i shared this room with my sister. it was a small room that had bad red carpet. it was not a relaxing colour and in fact the ugliest carpet i had ever seen. i sat on my bed and my dad came in and put a plate of flan cake i looked up and my dad just waved off my reaction and said, "ok. eat cake. no tell mom."
the following week, my mom burst into my room to put away clean clothes when she caught me reading nancy drew books and not practicing my violin. in fact, i was practicing. ok ok ok. i figured out that i could record myself doing scales and playing minuets on this clunky tape recorder. i would lie on my bed and read, keep my door shut, and let the tape run for an hour. i am such an evil genius. this stunt lasted for 2 months, until the incident above. this time, my dad did not bring me cake.