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‘I would have married King Kong’
A Lili Hun Family Story from New York


Today, I had a little accident with the Henna. Lady on the box I bought from the Nepali grocery store was pictured with black hair. I even avoided the box which had the red stripe on it. I double checked with the sales lady to make sure it wouldn’t do what it did—turned my hair bright red, orange even. James looks across the table at me and says, “I like you in red hair.” I give him a pursed-lip, wry smile, knowing that it wouldn’t be staying that shade, and I’d be wearing baseball caps until I could fix it.

I think associatively, so I tell him that my grandfather Abe had red hair. His nickname was even ‘Red.’ He was a truck driver. A real tired truck driver.

My grandmother, Charlotte, on the other hand, didn’t work. She spent a lot of time playing cards. Gambled with pennies and whatnot, back when a penny could buy a lot of candy. She was also known for burning dinner, because you can’t quite cook and play cards at the same time and do a good job on both.

My grandfather once bought a car without any warning (in the late 40s maybe?), for what it would have cost to buy a house at that time, about 7K. My grandmother was pissed, and I imagine he was pissed too, leading him to buy the car in the first place. My mom told me, laughing, that he would clean and polish the car for hours. Then my grandmother would insist on him taking them for a family ride, because, my mom said, she knew that my mother would get car sick, have to hang her head out of the car and puke all over the side of the freshly polished car. She was on the young side, probably under ten years of age. “The Bitch!” James says, “She didn’t care if her kid got sick, just used her as a pawn to get back at him.”

“Well, my mom still thought it was funny when she recounted the story, so I don’t think it bothered her much. I think my grandmother and my mother had man hate in them.”

My mom’s family lived in the Bronx. She told me that she would go down to the corner store and buy pickled pigs ears, not too kosher, but then as soon as her grandmother died, when she was four, evidently the family went to hell and started putting up Christmas trees, and Abe had to be especially roused from his nap to do the seder unwillingly.

My mom was good at managing her money from a young age. She would save it in her piggy bank, and my grandmother would also “borrow” money from her, probably when her gambling pennies ran out and never paid it back. “You think that had anything to do with her getting estranged from her family,” I ask James sarcastically. She was still pissed about it as my adult mother.

She said she would have married King Kong to get away from her family. So she ended up with my Hungarian, wife-beating father. “Close enough,” we laughed.

Add Comment
LynnJune 5, 2017 11:30 AM UTC

I hope it works, please report back!
Lili HunJune 5, 2017 7:57 AM UTC

You know, I did more research on henna and ordered some western-mad, with dark brown pigment added, so I'll redo my hair next weekend and likely tone it down. There's hope, Lynn. Thanks for big laugh.
LynnJune 4, 2017 6:05 PM UTC

Lili, you are learning a lot about the subcontinent, and the hard way. To my knowledge, hennad hair is impervious to commercial treatments. Enjoy!