July 21, 2011

Vietnam Airlines Would Have Been Easier

"This is Air China, not China Airlines. You'll have to go out, and turn right. It's in the Tom Bradley Building," she said as she handed me my father's passport and flight information. I grabbed them and started walking briskly towards the sliding glass doors, with my father following closely behind.

"It's wrong. You should have checked," he said to me. For some reason, I assumed it was Air China because that was the airline I took to Korea. Who knew? I had to admit, yes, I was wrong, and my father was right. Like always.

"China Airlines has China at the front. And this one has A-I-R then China after," laughed my mother. "If I was here alone I would never even make my flight." She's really good making light of serious situations. Now I know where I get my constant commentary skills from.

Before today, my father told me to be home 7:30pm so I can take him to the airport at 9pm, 5 hours before his departure. I didn't want to bother arguing, so I dropped my plans and was home at 7:30. I never understood showing up to something 5 hours early, unless I'm waiting in line to get great seats at a show. His reasoning, like many, is because "in case something goes wrong." He's always extremely prepared, but that takes a toll on his mental health. My dad is constantly stressed, over the littlest details.

For example, as we were leaving our apartment, I handed him a pack of floss. I wasn't sure if floss existed in Vietnam so I gave it to him in case. If I had to choose between flossing or brushing, I'd pick flossing. It's liberating to know that the gaps between my teeth are vacant, and that I don't have last night's dinner in my mouth as I'm eating breakfast. He placed it in his duffle bag. After honestly a few minutes of staring at his bag, he took out the floss. He held onto it, looking at his luggage, then at his duffle bag, then back at the floss in his hand.

"Dad, it's fine to leave it in the carry on. As long as you don't have any liquids, or drugs, or weapons," I reassured him. My brother jokingly told me later when I told him this story that floss can be used as a weapon. I can imagine that. It's similar to how Middle Eastern women thread their eyebrows, but instead they can slice off appendages with a quick wrist motion.

My father didn't say anything and placed the floss in his luggage. He couldn't risk it.

As we were in the now China Airlines check-in line, he gave me 10 dollars to pay for the parking. I refused, confidently telling him that parking will not be that much, six dollars maximum. He took out the money from his leather fanny pack and gave it to the my brother instead.

The line was packed, and we moved every five minutes. As I looked around, I couldn't help but wish I was going with him. It's been 7 months since my trip abroad, and I'm still living in the memories.

A majority of the passengers were Vietnamese - I can tell by the numerous Nguyens labelled on their cardboard boxes. My dad had a similar one too, except his was protected with layers of tape, just in case. A few feet away from us stood a Vietnamese couple, the kind that made me resent my own people (at least in my generation). She had long, coarse, black hair with red highlights. It's as if she dyed it 1000 times and had it permed, then straightened, then permed again. I know I shouldn't judge, but I had nothing better to do in that line. She stood at 5 feet, maybe even less since she had on heels. Her waist looked like a 24, and I could bet that her twins were bought. They were round, and large, making her body disproportionate. I looked down at mine, and knew for a fact hers were fake. Sorry little babies, but you are staying the way you are. Her man was beside her, rearranging items in the luggage. He looked like a nice guy. Slender, around 5 inches taller than his companion. His hair though, turned me off. It was the typical Asian cut. I wish I knew hair terms, but it was buzzed on the bottom (a fade?) and there was hair on top. Sorry, but you probably know what I mean. If not, google "typical Asian hair cut for men." (I lied, I just googled it. Maybe styles have changed).

The breast augmented lady glanced over, and I felt her eyes looking at me. She's probably thinking I'm some 15 year old nerdy tourist who needs a makeover: more makeup, more hair, more junk in the trunk, more oomph. I gave her a kind smile, and she looked away.

The line began to move and finally, we were next. The check-in agent handed my father the golden ticket, the one he's been waiting for for the past 17 years.

"We can't go with you to security," I told my dad. "This is it!"

He gave me a kiss, more like a sniff, on the cheek. He then went to my brother and did the same. We are not an intimate bunch, until I went off the college.

"You should take a photo of that!" said my brother. I looked over, and holy moly, my dad just gave my mom a kiss on the cheek. We've never witnessed this before! Yes, we saw them holding hands when my dad made me record them at the park for his home made music video. And we've seen them dance when my dad showed me some ballroom moves before dropping me off at my eighth grade dance. But never have I seen my dad's lips pressed against my mom's beautiful blushed cheeks. Never! I smiled, not just because of the rarity of the event, but at the fact that it was so low-key, so normal. I can't imagine being with someone for 38 years. Go parents!

The walk back to the car felt quiet without the presence of my dad. We got lost looking for our car and the situation was rather funny. We joked around, pretending to be my dad, thinking of what he would be saying right now. Usually, if my dad would start yelling at us for being so forgetful. He would stress, and stress, and stress, and won't stop until we found the car.

Three and a half hours later, we were finally heading back. I handed the man at the booth our parking ticket. "That will be nine dollars," he told me.  I looked at my brother without saying a word and he handed me the ten dollar bill.

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