"I'm home!" I say to no-one in particular, throwing my backpack just inside the door. My parents have had a rough couple of years. When I was found cutting myself in the bathroom two years ago, my mom took an extended break and my dad started working at home in order to take care of me. They're both traveling people, so two years of constant one-on-one took a serious toll on our relationship with one another.
At the beginning of this year, now that I’m okay, I told my parents that they should leave. Get out and be happy again. We still love each other, I think. But we can't stand one another. My dad's on a one-year business assignment in Beijing and my mom...well, she just goes places. She used to be a high-up assistant to some fashion designer/magazine editor/someone like that who I could care less about. So after quitting, she has a long way to go back up. She says not to worry, though. Her skills from before will have her climbing quickly. But in the meantime, she needs to work harder than anyone else.
So my house is always empty now. But only the weak would find it lonely. I am strong. I don't care.
I grab a jug of milk out of the fridge and start thinking about dinner. I got some goat from the butcher the other day that I've been wanting to try out. See, there's a butcher down the street. He's a butcher for Muslim people and since a lot of the Muslim people in our area come from India and Pakistan and stuff, he has a lot of goat. I've always opted for beef and chicken before, but I wanted to try it just once. Why don't I just get ready made meals from the supermarket? I discovered the butcher's place when I ran away from Trina's funeral and after a while, we got to be pretty good friends. And I have far too much time on my hands to not learn how to cook.
I pull the small plastic bag of goat out of the freezer and set it in a bowl of water in the sink to defrost. How the hell am I supposed to cook it? Thank goodness I have the butcher on speed dial. Hey, don't judge.
"Khaleel? How the hell do I cook a goat?" A thick Indian accent comes over the phone.
"You are knowing biryani?" I roll my eyes with a smile. A real smile. A really small one.
"No. I'm white, dude. White."
"Oh. You are knowing puhlao?"
"GAAAH! I know pizza, Khaleel. I know pasta. I know hamburgers. That's about it!"
There’s a brief pause. "You are having no life. Come over for dinner. My wife, she teach you biryani, give you nice recipe book, you get life. Okay?"
He gives me the time and address and hangs up, not taking no for an answer. Anyone who calls me a freeloader has not attempted to say no to an Indian offering food. I stick the goat in the freezer for another day. I only got it yesterday. It should still be okay tomorrow.
Homework flies by and I find myself with nothing to do. I go for dinner and return with three enormous yoghurt cartons of left-over food and a recipe book. Indians.
I try watching TV...only to start yelling at the characters.
"Geez! He doesn't like you! Why don't you understand?"
"Why do you care? It's not like that shade of lipstick is going to make him kiss you!"
"What the hell? You're only TEN! Stop thinking about guys!"
Ah, The Nanny. Trina and I used to watch this show all the time: mimicking the lines to one another as inside jokes.
"I remember my first day of school. I had my little tin pail as I walked over the snow. Pa was chopping wood--"
"Yetta! That's the opening sequence to Little House on the Prairie!"
Yetta's one of my favorite characters. She's so senile it's hilarious! In today's episode, Fran and Cici are having a serious discussion about Cici's future in a public restroom. Yetta opens the door to the stall next to them and pops her head out: her own sequined jacket in her hand.
"Excuse me, do you have this in a size 6?"
Trina rolls around on the floor next to me.
"God, she's so senile!"
“I know, right? She’s ridiculous!”
“I love the episode where she gets engaged and then forgets!”
“And how they make fun of Yetta and Sammy’s slowness after they get married!”
Trina copies Sylvia’s nasal, deliberate voice.
|Ok Taecyeon||as Trevor Choi|