Tuesday, December 04, 2007

He Blames Us For Everything




One of my best friends in high school lived in a HUD house on the edge of the decommissioned army base in my hometown. Her family was poor, so poor that she got to pick out clothes for back to school shopping and put them on layaway where they would stay and become her Christmas presents if she was lucky. She'd visit the clothes during the fall, hoping. Some years the gifts would return back to the store and all the installment plan would be forfeited. This was the other extreme from my very best friend who had an actual Saturday Night Fever pinball machine in her rec room, along with two arcade games -- Ms. Pacman and Frogger. I never saw the inside of the HUD house -- her parents, although they loved me because I was a good influence (dear God, if they only knew!), never let strangers inside. My friend's dad was a Vietnam Vet and had many issues with Asians -- the irony being that he married a Vietnamese woman who spoke almost no English and didn't allow the children to speak anything other than English. "We get into trouble if people harass us for being non-whites," my friend would say. "He blames us for everything, even when my brother got beaten up by a bunch of rednecks."

A lot of Asians lived in Mineral Wells given the times -- groups known as "boat people" flocked from Laos and Cambodia to seek refuge. But the racism and poverty was hard -- the typical knowledge of Asian culture was LaChoy, a horrible chop suey mixed (their slogan was "LaChoy makes Chinese swing American!") that my sister and I would beg my mother not to fix for dinner. We'd cry, and she'd tell us to "fucking expand your narrow little horizons." And she'd force us to visit the boat people at Christmas at the Lutheran church who set up shelters for them to show us how lucky we were to get toys and whatnot. I thought about my two friends, how different their lives were. My poor friend was beautiful and my rich friend was not. I was nothing -- poor but not dirt poor, okay-looking but not stunning. On LaChoy nights, I'd pick at what was on my plate, hating it, while my mother told me that it could be worse, that I could have nothing.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible." Alfred Hitchcock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story collection suggestion: Nobody Belongs Here More Than You Miranda July

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

17 comments:

Emperor Ropi said...

What is HUD house?

the walking man said...

If only we as a people had changed since then, what a world we would have. yet unfortunately we are still the same, needing someone to be inferior to most of the rest of us. I guess gays are the new flavor of the times, once we get them equal rights, I wonder who will be left, maybe poets, writers and intellectuals?

Michelle you know the way you are so self deprecating I can see you as a twig of a girl, now when will you see the tree that twig has become.

Peace ever more Peace

mark

the walking man said...

Ropi...HUD stands for Housing and Urban Development and the housing part is government subsidized housing where the rent is based on the income of the residents. So the less money you make the lower the rent is.

Peace

mark

Charles Nelson Reilly said...

Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat!!!

Rodney Bates Motel said...

I said "furburger," not "shower curtain," if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

we seem to be moving ever closer to THOSE pictures. ;)

Johnny Cash said...

Because your mine, I walk the line.

Brewer and Shipley said...

One toke over the line sweet Jesus.

Pops Dinwiddie said...

White line fever.

Al Capone said...

Line up over there, against the wall.

Joe E. Brown said...

Nobody's perfect.

Lindsay Lohan said...

Are they doing lines in here?

Roy O'brien said...

Toot, toot!!! Your'e on the right track, to 9 Mile and Mack!!!

MacDawg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian in Mpls said...

That picture makes me suffer

Charles Gramlich said...

Sad about your friend and the clothes on layaway that would have to sometimes go back on the shelves. I think this is part of the reason those of us who can spoil our children so badly, because if we grew up fairly poor we knew how hard it was for our parents to want to give us things and not always be able.

The Beatles said...

All you need is love.