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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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07.21.03, monday night

Earlier on the radio, there bopped a lyric about sipping Hennessy with you, boo. I hiccupped ha ha softly; Hennessy doesn't signify girls shaking scantily-clad ass in a dark smoky club but a ritual during summer birthday parties, played out in a living room, the main characters being my father and his friends, pouring and sipping little glasses of liquid amber as they discussed the politics of their homeland.

Hennessy wasnít only for men Ė my adopted grandmother imbibed it too, with other old women, cackling over cards spread on a little table hovering low over a glossy, tiled floor.

FYI, Iím not adopted. In the early 80s, my parents adopted a family, allowing them to take our name so that they could immigrate to the US.

Somewhere in my parentsí photo album, there's a pre-immigration/adoption flick of my aunties and uncles, just kids when they were living in a refugee camp because there was no (safe) Cambodia to call home. Later Iíd realize that kinship could be acquired or lost easily if not without pain, just like that, through necessity or events that happened beyond your ability to control them.

I donít know my adopted grandmotherís name (her first or her real last name) Ė I donít know the names of many relatives. But I remember her bosom-heaving laughter and the way she spoke Khmer, deep-throated, contentious, and always generous.






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