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January 31, 2004

Posted by anoddphrase in Uncategorized.

another crazy family incident… down in the city 😛


Daily Theme #12

Mr. Frankenbach

English 250

February 14, 2003


Chinese New Year



            “Why are we going down to the city again?”  My fingers tapped restlessly on the textured plastic of the car’s window sill as I shifted my gaze away from the scenery sweeping past in a blur of green and gray to look into the suspicious stare of my father’s eyes in the rearview mirror.

            “Because you honor and respect your Chinese heritage and all of the traditions it dictates.”

            “I think I’d appreciate setting off firecrackers in our backyard on July Fourth, in honor of my American heritage, a lot more than dying a slow and painful death in the city.”  My eyebrows pulled into a belligerant arch.  “And the rest of the world doesn’t make such a big deal out of it either, you know.  I don’t think anyone really knows about Chinese New Year anyway.”  Black pupils flicked away for a moment, before glinting warningly at me.

            My older brother, David, managed to tear his focus away from the mesmerizing, digital screen of the Gameboy in his hands long enough to ask, “Does this honor and respect happen to include receiving mass amounts of money in neat, red packets from very generous relatives who don’t happen to speak English?”  My dad’s eyes flipped up to stare briefly at the gray, felt ceiling before returning to the road.


            The slight slouch of my spine straightened.  “Okay, I’m there.”


            David’s green-capped head bent to restore his full concentration back to the game, while a grin lit up Matthew’s face as he echoed, “Didow.”

An almost imperceptible release of air, on my father’s part, marked his version of a sigh and the corner of my mouth, conveniently unexposed to the reflection of the mirror, curled a little.  A finger came up to twist itself around the loose ends of my shoulder-length hair as I stared back out of the window.  Long, thin cables, stretching up to strong, metal beams, flashed by, the bright, morning sunlight winking on and off between them.  Cars raced by in the opposite direction, a rush of air and worries about the time.  Beyond the barred walls of the bridge was a river dotted with tiny, almost toy-like sailboats gliding gently across the glittering waves.

“Great day for sailing, right, David?”  My dad’s eyes in the mirror lingered longingly over the body of water locked between two rounded mountains.

“Hmm,” David grunted absently, his thumbs moving agilely over the black buttons of the Gameboy.

“Too cold out,” piped Matthew brightly.

“It’s thirty-five degreees out in the middle of January, smart one,” I retorted.  “It’s not too cold.”  Matt’s mouth puckered petulantly before he, too, succumbed to the lure of the ever present Gameboy.

A soft thump sounded from the driver’s seat as the cables from the bridge disappeared and my mom started from her coma in the passenger’s seat, responding to my father’s ogre-like signal to take out the E-Z Pass and stick it on the windshield behind the rearview mirror.  I reached a hand down to pull out a pair of tiny, black earphones from my bag and slip one into my left ear as we slowed to a stop at an empty tollbooth.  The strumming of guitar strings brushed my eardrums as I depressed the ‘play’ button.

Gong hei fa choi,” I muttered as the neon-orange bar lifted slowly and the car accelerated.

David and Matthew, without bothering to move an inch, automatically finished the sentence: “Lei zee dao loi.

And a smile curved my lips.  The uniform tilt of my brother’s heads, the shine of my father’s metal-rimmed glasses, and the fall of my mother’s choppy hair peeking out from the gap between her headrest and the side of the car imprinting themselves into the back of my mind as we sped south.  “Now can I have my money?”




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