Saturday, February 13, 2010


When he stepped out of clerical attire, Kim played crime bosses. Capo di tutti capi, as I enjoyed repeating.

Twice, he played a capo named Uncle Benny.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

Uncle Benny Chan

Directed by Richard Donner

The Corruptor (1999)

Uncle Benny Wong

Directed by James Foley

Some APA kids continued to call him an Uncle Tom.

Hattie McDaniel:

“I’d rather play a maid and make seven thousand dollars a week than be one for seven dollars.”

After both of my parents had departed from the earth, I needed an old one. And The Old One stepped up to the plate. Kim told me, “Now we must take care of each other. Now we’ll be a family together. You’re not alone anymore.”

For over a decade, we were a twentieth-century Hansel and Gretel, wandering together through alleys and boulevards, opera houses and airports. We shared the highs and the lows.

Note to pedants: During famine, plague, and other crises (as during the waning of the Middle Ages), it was not uncommon for parents to abandon their children in the woods.

Kim observed, “The other people in our family are nice, but they’re a completely different species from us. It’s you and me, kid.”

I always wished we could star in a production of Peter Pan. To play the forever boy, I could get a cute androgynous haircut. I hankered after a harness so that I could fly the way Kim had so many times. And I thought he would make a swell Captain Hook.

“I’m offering you the rest of my life.”

The whirligig years with Kim were the equivalent of running away with the circus. Now here I am in the South Slope, in my bright pink-and-green abode, surrounded by a million boxes and bags. From my parents’ house. From my former studio apartment in Chelsea. From The Old One. My place looks like Barbie having a nervous breakdown.

A dharma wheel usually hangs from each of my earlobes. These everyday earrings serve a purpose. When I touch the points on the rims of the dharma wheels, it reminds me not to make bitchy remarks or fly off the handle.

My mother had a copy of Frankie Laine’s hit “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (1951). I recently discovered that the song was adapted from a Mandopop (Mandarin popular music) number. In other words, the original was in Chinese.

In Lethal Weapon 4, Kim was speaking Cantonese while Jet Li was speaking Mandarin. I guess the attitude was: Foreign devils will never be able to tell the difference.

I think my mother’s vinyl records are in my second bedroom. I know I kept them. I can never let go.

1 comment:

  1. So many people here in Alaska come from other places, we tend to create our own families. My best friend up here is as close as any of my blood sisters.