Yesterday was my brother Paul’s 27th birthday. On its face, that statement seems preposterous. It means I’m old, yes, but I guess it means my father is older. “I told my co-worker that my son was turning 30 today,” my dad said. “Then I said ‘wrong son, he’s turning 27.'” I don’t blame my dad, my mom hasn’t been able to keep the names of her three sons straight since 1986. “Phil, ah, Matt, ah, Paul,” she’ll say. I guess it works because we all look, then she just makes eye contact with the one she wants. In recent years, she’s worked her dog’s name – Bijou – into the mix. There’s nothing quite like being mistaken for the dog. I have to say that my dad’s technique is far more efficient: he simply says “Hey,” then we all look, and he points at the one he wants. I’m going to turn into them. It’s inevitable.
Paul went to school for what seemed like an eternity. He went to school for about as long as Harry Potter did, though Paul’s life was likely a lot less exciting. He did, however, get to wear a nice robe with a bunch colorful and fancy cords like Harry. Paul is the smartest of the three of us, as well as the most motivated. He seems, however, to be proudest of the fact that his waistline is on the right side of 34. That’s more than my father, Matty, or I can say. It’s kind of irking to think that he’s maintained a healthy figure simply by watching what he eats and working out sporadically. I feel like he’s ashamed of the Higa tradition of growing a potbelly.
While Paul was toiling away in law school, he lived alone. He is a quiet person by nature, and it’s no secret in our family that being back in a full house isn’t his ideal living situation. His next dream is to purchase a condo in town, which would make him the first “townie” in our family. I give him shit for this, and true to form, he doesn’t care at all. He owns it. I am certain that one day soon, he will acquire a nice place for himself. I mean, he’s obliterated every other goal in his life, and I assume that this will be no different. I also assume that once he does get his own place, he’ll throw lavish Gatsby-esque parties which will be known as “Paul-a-poloozas” or “Palu-paloozas.” His words, not mine.
Prior to heading over for dinner at Tadashi, Lynnette, Madison, and I hit up Sugarlina for cupcakes to bring as dessert. My mother had never had the pleasure, as she says the Chinese in her would never allow her to indulge in a $3 cupcake. We purchased eight – one apiece for the people attending – and I picked the chocolate one first because I knew my father would be devastated if we tried to offer him anything else. He’s a simple man. Lynnette picked the rest and that was that. “I just wanna eat the frosting,” Madison said. “No, you have to eat the whole thing or you don’t eat any,” Lynnette said. In the upset of the night, Madison not only ate both the frosting and the cake itself, but she managed to do so without making a mess. Check out this picture. There was no Photoshopping involved. She somehow navigated the cupcake with covering herself in crumbs. My little girl is growing up! I, however, did manage to get frosting inside one of my nostrils upon the first bite I took.
I wish we could get together for dinners like these more often. They always remind me about the many great things that make my family wonderful. For example, the most heated conversation we had over dinner last night was about The Fast and the Furious franchise of movies.
We began by talking about which movies were opening this summer and arrived at the quintessential action flick. “Have you even seen the fifth one?” I asked my father. “The one with The Rock? Yeah, like five times,” he said. I laughed. “I liked it,” he said. “I know you did, dad,” I said. Then it somehow devolved into Matty, my dad, and I trying to piece together the order of the movies and the plot of each. Tanya helped because she’s is always the most sensible person at the table and Paul had zero interest in the conversation. Lynnette opined that she didn’t even see the second or third or fifth. Ditto for me.
“There’s the Japan one, and the one in Mexico,” my dad said. “Yeah, the one in Mexico is the one where Vin Diesel knows exactly what happened to the girl from Lost just by looking at the tire tracks,” I said. “That’s right!” my dad said. “She’s coming back, you know,” he added. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I would love, love, love to see Fast 6 in the theater with my father and brothers, just so we could have that conversation afterwards that would no doubt be awesome.
Lynnette sent me this photo two nights ago and told me to send it to members of my family who “can receive picture messages.” This caveat is necessary, of course, because of the aforementioned Chinese in my mother that prevents her from paying for photo messages as part of her cell phone plan. When Lynnette asked me to broach the subject of Madison’s graduation and the dinner to follow last night, I started by saying “Did Paul or Matty show you this picture?” My mom quickly said “No,” with that tone of hers that implies shock and hurt and sadness all at once. “Awww, she’s so pretty, Al,” my mom sad, handing my phone to my dad who lowered his reading glasses from the top of his head to look at it.
“Oh, I don’t know,” my dad said. He reached into his pocket pull out his phone. “Did you send it to me? Because I got this message, but I don’t know who it’s from and-” my mom cut him off by barking “If you don’t know who it’s from, you don’t open it!” The intonation and severity of her voice sounded as if she was warning a 6-year old about the perils of eating Halloween candy as given to the child by an unknown person. I laughed and my mom – realizing what she had done – started laughing, too. “And that,” I said. “Is why I can’t live with you.” Paul made the big-eye face, which means “I know, right?” I suppose you probably had to be there and know what kind of a psycho (in a mostly good way) my mother is to find that funny.
Anyway, my parents are going to Vegas for about a week. I hope they hit a $21,000,000 jackpot.. I told my dad that if they won an obscene amount of money, they’d have to turn their house into a four-story mini-skyscraper so that we could live there, too, and I could drink delicious Aiea water any time I wanted. “Fine,” he said. “But you still have to work.”
As my students would say, “UNBOIZ, dad.”