Read time: 6 minutes Circa: 1989 – 1996
I was an only child for 7 years. I know this is a long time frame to run solo, sometimes I wonder if I was an oops. I don’t know. I don’t like to dwell on this kind of math. The line for me being a creep is drawn here. I spent this time as an only child in Los Angeles where my parents still had time to fulfill their adventurous appetite. I was shy and overly well behaved, especially when I was taken to the beach. However, because I was an only child for so long with first generation American parents, normalcy was not a thing.
No one told me that I was the only girl who liked the Yellow Power Ranger more than the Pink. When the costume aisle had one Pink costume and 47 Yellow, I considered myself in great luck.
When my dad was at work and my mom would head to the shower, I would sneak away and put on an elaborate dance performance to raunchy Madonna lyrics I only now understand. The only devilish thing I ever did was record the radio over my parents’ tapes to compile my own mix-tape. The first album I ever purchased was Spice World, which is fine, but somehow my favorite Spice Girl was Sporty Spice. I was put into zero sports and after school activities, that’s how I make sense of that.
On Fridays, I wore my favorite outfit: torn denim shorts and metallic sneakers. On Sundays, when I went to Burger King, my dad allowed me to order extra pickles with my Whopper. I would receive them in a separate cup that was at least always half full of burger pickles. Now you know. He never got me a Junior Whopper and I need to thank him for it because I always know how to eat a burger now. If I behaved, which was always, I got to make Jello. I couldn’t wrap my mind around this concept: powder turning into flavored jiggle. This is why siblings are so important because if I had had one, they would laugh at the way I chose to allocate my time.
When I ran out of Jello, I would try on my moms black velvet wedges and imagine myself in a corporate office. I was kind of sexy but not too sexy because I’m so professional. Most of this actually came true for me, thank you childhood me and thank you adult me for making a dream happen.
I have this distinct memory of watching Cops with my dad and dancing to that infamous intro (which by the way, is tastefully reggae). During commercial breaks, he’d let me put clear nail polish on his toes. I know this sounds like one isolated memory but this happened a lot. He wasn’t embarrassed then and I’m pretty sure he’s not embarrassed now either; because he has shiny nails and you don’t.
Most of Kindergarten was me trying to figure out if I preferred Nabisco Oreos or Chips Ahoy cookies. I have yet to decide, some dreams go unfulfilled. When I was five, I also had a boyfriend named Kevin which I thought was great. It was a sweet gig until it was my mom’s turn to be the parent volunteer in class. She told me I couldn’t hold his hands and had to sit in a different circle from him. Goodbye Kevin, you were my first true love and the start to a five-year Asian fetish. My mom and dad would actually squint their eyes at me sometimes and would ask if I liked them better that way. It was racist but they were right, I did prefer it. LA will do that to you: make you develop unwarranted likings for yellow Asians and yellow Rangers.
You know what was cool, though? The first time I ate Fruit-Roll Ups. Because the commercials make them look so tasty and very few things in life deliver in that manner. Fruit-Roll Ups and Fruit by the Foot was how I got paid to do my chores. Looking back at it, I’m surprised I have a business degree seeing that common sense wasn’t innate.
I once cheated on a weekly spelling test because I couldn’t remember how many Ana’s was in Banananana. I confessed a year later in second grade and cried about it to my parents for hours. Like, I could not get a grip about my fraudulent crime. Again, this is why you need siblings, to put you in check. My parents made me feel like a real sh!thead about it just to make a point—laughing in their heads I’m sure—taking advantage of their foolish and only child.
So everyone had Nano-Pets/Tamagochi’s during my solo era. Here’s where my life get’s interesting: I had two penguins. Yeah, I had two of those digital pets and both were not dogs but rather trotting birds. But because of these Nano pets, I realized I never wanted a real pet. The closest things I’ve had are younger sisters, which happened right when these came out. The last photo-filter memory I have is me haphazardly holding a bottle into my sisters mouth while concentrating very hard on feeding my fake pet.
I know we complain about the younger millennials being the worst but have we considered the alternative above: total disregard for normalcy? But cups of pickles, right?