“Why?!” She answers sharply. (I don’t know what it is with my filipino parents, but even when they say just one word, it already sounds like I’ve done something wrong.)
“Oh, because I want to wear it.. for MY wedding!” I girlishly squeal, hoping for some kind of connection with my immigrant mom over the telephone. (I think that’s one of those things that I always kinda wanted growing up. White mothers/daughters always seemed to have that weird sisterly vibe, calling each other up just to see ‘how are you’. Whenever I call my parents, they instantly think I need money.)
“What?” I thought I heard wrong.
“No.” She huffs. “Bad luck.”
“Bad luck?!?” I’m practically reeling from the blow. “How?”
“Good luck for you. Bad luck for me. In my culture (she says this often to me because I am far too ‘Americanized’ to be considered even a bit filipino), it is bad luck to wear my wedding dress.”
“Why?!” I’m wailing now, culminating years of being a spoiled brat mixed vigorously with memories of my mom showing me the dress as a child and the words “Someday, this will be yours,” somehow etched into my remembrance. A childhood dream crushed! My budget-wedding budget crushed!
My dad -who has been listening in the room- gets angrily onto the phone. “Why, what’s wrong with you?” He sternly growls into the phone. “You want your mommy to die?!”
“Whaaaaat?” I manage.
“You want your mommy to die?!… You want your mommy to die?!?!”
“No…” sniff. “I just want to wear her wedding dress.”
“THEN you want your mommy to die!” He angrily concludes.
“What culture does it say that?” I fight back.
“I never saw that on the internet!” I throw. (Because you know, everything is TRUE on the internet.)
“Doesn’t matter. You wear that dress, your mommy dies. No. Buy a wedding dress.” he spits into the phone.
“But a wedding dress costs $100s of dollars… even thousands!” I counter. (I’m appealing to their frugality, their downright cheapness that usually justifies their ability to give 95 cents as a tip at certain Chinese restaurants.)
“So what?! Better a new dress than a dead mommy!” My dad hits his last few words before my mom is able to wrench the phone from his white-knuckled hands.
“So,” my mom continues, all quiet and factual, “No, no you can’t wear my wedding dress. But you can have it after I die.”