i love yous are for white people-lac su

this may have been the wrong selection to read at a wedding ceremony full of white people. so i made sure i hid behind the coloured folks as i read it. i also had people drinking shirley temples with fervor-you’re welcome. but in all seriousness, i’m great-full for the reunions that the matrimony spawned. i found a copy of sellevision on the street and gave it to nadia, who lent me her lovely dress for the wedding (that i wore inside out like the fresh prince to showcase its beauty-full lining). then, i read the final dedication of this book. coincidence? i think not. bigups to mister su for penning such a heartbreaking and cathartic memoir. he’s kinda my hero right now. this is the story that stays with me, the one that takes my breath away:

“One morning Ma and I walk downstairs to ask the building manager why our plumbing won’t work. While Ma labors to communicate with him, I scurry to the open door and snatch up a long red balloon from the mangy carpet. As we walk upstairs I blow hard into the hole but can’t inflate my testy balloon. The outside is as sticky and filthy as the carpet I pulled it from. I can tell someone else has been blowing on my balloon because the inside is moist and tastes salty. I wonder if they had the same problem blowing it up that I’m having, but I won’t put it back. I love my red balloon. I pull it from my lips to smile at Ma as she opens the door to our apartment. She smiles back and seems happy that I’ve found a toy to play with.

I play with my balloon for days on end in absolute bliss. I still can’t inflate it, but I bite, suck, and chew on it enough to remove the grime and restore its bright red luster. It’s my most cherished possession until Pa comes home one evening from figuring it out and spots me playing with it.” (23-4)

“I stuff my toothbrush and some mouthwash into the side pocket of my suitcase. I walk into the office to find my headphones and throw them into my backpack along with my copies of XXL, The Source, and Psychology Today for the flight. My cell phone buzzes loudly against the surface of the dresser. There are still too many things I need to do before my flight, so I don’t answer. I wander about the house, searching for my passport and worrying about the trip. My thoughts race. Will Vietnam recognize me? Will I remember her?” (233)

and that is the last straw that made me believe that we’re sharing a camel’s brain.

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One thought on “i love yous are for white people-lac su

  1. by any means necessary:

    “Pa learned where he could find a job and how he could get his family on the waiting lists for Heaven. American religions organizations had set up show in Hong Kong to find converts in exchange for sponsoring their emigration to America. Pa didn’t believe in Heaven, but he longed to provide his family the same opportunities described by the American soldiers during the war. Being an atheist didn’t stop him from joining all four religions to better our chances of getting sponsored. Each week he shuffled us among Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, and Baptist services, and he and Ma constantly took visits from evangelists who would stop by our hotel to preach to us.” (20)
    “I don’t understand why the white children insist on screaming each word as if Uncle Sam himself might hear them. They remind me of the Viet Cong who would sing at the top of their lungs as they marched through the streets of Da Nang.” (50-51)

    “I don’t feel any smarter from the beatings. They make me move like molasses for fear of taking a step in the wrong direction. I haven’t even completed the third grade, but Pa wants me to become a man. The small doses of nurturing that I’ve learned to wait for and cherish are no more. Like sandy cliffs along the seashore, they’ve eroded away with time.” (63)

    “Malt liquor has the magic that lets my emotions flow into my drawings. When I’m good and drunk, it feels like I’m crying through my pencils. After the first couple of sips, I’m okay again. My problems don’t feel like problems anymore. I find myself laughing them away with the Street Ratz. Most of them can relate to what I’m going through. They have Asian fathers of their own who scrutinize and beat on them.” (157)

    “I don’t usually eat breakfast. Food in the morning makes me feel like I’m going to vomit. I guess growing up poor taught my stomach to treat breakfast as an insult.” (215)
    “My wife and I decided to start a family right around the time I began penning chapters for this book. She and I were creating our future at the same time that I was digging deep into my past. I was forced to relive the experiences that became this book, and fear took over. I wondered if the cycle would repeat and my father’s heavy hands would be reborn in mine. If my child was a boy, what would that do to me? How would I be? Would the ass-whippings become a part of my children’s upbringing?” (245)

    “To Augusten Burroughs: You are my memoir idol. You have inspired me in so many ways. As a kid, the sellevision made me want to be like the white people.
    But the wolf at my dinner table told me otherwise. It was like running with scissors the way I balanced between the cultures inside and outside of my household. In my search for love, I was on my own and left to dry. But my magical thinking has guided me through life and eventually took me out of my misery. From what I’ve experienced, there might be some possible side effects. Thank you, Augusten.” (249)

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