Family Feature: Tommy Huang (弟弟)

This week I’m gonna shift gears and focus on one of the other purposes of this blog: my family. As I mentioned in my first post, I created bananalife to not only be an outlet for me to share all things ABC, but also to keep a space dedicated to my large and loving family. For this first family feature post, I am proud to introduce you to my one-and-only younger brother, 黄瑞 欣 a.k.a. Tommy.

He used to look like THIS:

scavenging the bed pillow chocolates on our cruise in 2001

Now he looks like THIS  -__-

The wasabi challenge (2011)

Here are the basics on Tommy Huang:

  • Loves video games, especially Dynasty Warriors and Pokémon franchises (as do I)
  • Has a great knack for baking, especially desserts (creme brulee, anyone?)
  • An absolute BOSS at origami. No joke, check out some of his work HERE.
  • A ladies man (I came home to celebrate his 14th birthday last year and found our house filled with a dozen teenage girls o_O)
  • His favorite color has always been pink, no matter what he tells you now.

I honestly don’t remember the exact moment when my parents told me I was going to get a younger sibling. I do know that I had just turned 8 years old and that my initial reaction probably involved some ninja jump-kicks along with hi-pitched squeaks of joy. My mom tells me that not 5 minutes after hearing the news, I asked: “Can we name him… Tommy… after Tommy Pickles???” (90’s cartoons FTW).

Despite looking more and more physically similar as the years go by, Tommy and I are quite distinct in terms of personality. I attribute it partly to the fact that as my parent’s first born, I grew up in a much different environment than my brother.  I like to joke that I was the guinea pig – a human beta test, if you will – for my parents who had just moved to the states a couple years prior to my glorious world entrance and were still learning how to be American themselves. Subsequently, I was definitely given more freedom as a kid, dabbling in everything the typical all-American childhood has to offer: boy scouts, soccer, baseball, summer camp, et cetera. Tommy, on the other hand, got a more streamlined tiger-treatment from the start. Not that he wasn’t allowed to pursue these activities, it’s just this time around I think my parents were able to reflect off of other ABC families they had met and got a better idea on what was more “efficient” – i.e. he started playing violin when he was very young, joined the local swim team and (recently) started to play tennis like a good little Asian. It’s kind of like the first time you play Pokémon where you don’t really care what the best ones are and just explore/experiment; then during your next play-through you go in with an agenda to raise the best team and find all the items. I believe there are merits to both avenues, and my family can definitely show for that… wait, did I just compare my development as child to the training of fantastical monster-slaves?

… Anyways, another difference and something I’ve always been jealous of Tommy is that he’s been able to travel back to China much more than I have. Busy high school and college summers have prevented me from going for the last decade, but Tommy was able to take advantage of his grade school breaks along with the benefit of our mom being able to travel to China for work each year. I think being able to go on these trips (6 times in his 14 years vs. my 4 times over 23 years) has given him a better appreciation for our family’s heritage and Asian culture in general than I was able to have growing up. As a result, Tommy’s mandarin is much stronger than mine when I was his age and I envy him for that!

Bros at Keystone, CO (2008)

To conclude this feature, here is a short letter I’ve just written to Tommy, b/c I know he be reading bananalife:

Dear Tommy,

After moving to St. Louis almost 6 years ago, I realized I have missed much of your transformation from cherubic yet devilish tagalong baby brother to too-cool-for-school wisecracking teenager. That can’t really be helped, though, with our almost 9-year age difference. You’ve grown so much since I last shared a home with you, both physically and emotionally; and it was been so much fun to watch you grow each time I visit. I won’t lie, you used to annoy the crap out of me and I have absolutely no regrets locking you out of my room when I was trying to play Magic cards with my friends. But as we both have matured and continue to do so, I am glad that we are becoming better and better friends even though we aren’t able to spend as much time together. I’m proud of you and look forward to the next time we can destroy some n00bs on xbox together.

Sincerely your 哥哥,
John

p.s. I’m sorry I used to shoot you with my AirSoft gun.

p.p.s. I can’t believe mom let me have an AirSoft gun.

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