Vinny and I caused a lot of trouble when we were kids. I mean, we weren’t spoiled brats or anything. We were obedient, respectful of our elders, and fairly good kids, considering. But man, we were curious and active and got into everything! Case in point, here’s a memory I have of one of our misdeeds.
Growing up in Vietnam, we didn’t have TVs or Playstations to keep us from being bored, so we had to come up with creative ways to entertain ourselves. One day, we decided to light paper airplanes on fire to see what they would look like floating down. Our family lived on the fourth floor of a huge apartment complex that had a narrow alley way on the side. We could look down on to the alley way through a small window in our kitchen, and it looked fairly safe.
So, we made paper airplanes, lit a match, and set one on fire. Then we tossed the airplane out the window to watch it float to the alley below. To our horror, the fire didn’t go out on the way down as we expected, and the plane landed on a pile of rubbish! Even worse, the fire started getting bigger! Being the creative problem solving young minds that we were, Vinny and I started running back and forth between the faucet and the window, carrying these little cups of water and dumping them down at the burning rubble four stories below.
Needless to say, our efforts proved futile. The fire got progressively bigger and bigger as we panicked and frantically dumped water faster and faster out the window. Eventually, an adult downstairs poked his head out and looked up at us. When he noticed our two panic-stricken heads looking down, he shook his fist at us and started yelling something obscene. He then went and put out the fire as we ran away to hide. The adult told on us later that day, and we got a beating from our dad.
Memories like these are faint and fading. I’ve forgotten so many of these tidbits as the years roll by. The environments of the clean and orderly U.S. is night and day compared to the chaotic environments of Vietnam, and there is very little mnemonic landscape for us to hang on to. I’m only grateful that I can still remember some of these memories, if only a glimmering trace. We never tried flying flaming paper airplanes again.