Thursday, October 19, 2017
“Tell me a story,” the little girlchild said.
Her name is Madelyn Nguyen, and she can have anything she wants from me.
But I’ll tell you a story, instead, the story of Madelyn Nguyen’s stellar origins – and how they foretell her perfect destiny: Madelyn Nguyen’s always gonna win.
I have faith in nothing men swear faith to, and yet I believe beyond every doubt in this simple proposition: Madelyn Nguyen is always going to win.
I’ve felt that way since I met her, six months ago. She was just thirty-nine months old then, with her nose and my knee about the same distance from the floor. How she got the name Madelyn I don’t know, but she’s as Viet as Viet kids get: Golden skin and dark, penetrating eyes and enough rich, black hair, that, had it been distributed more equally, every bald-headed baby in the mall could start to look halfway human.
And she was awake then, too, already – the youngest all-the-way-self-aware child I’ve ever met. She was with her cousin – a year older than her, but you’d never guess it except by his size. It wasn’t so much that she was bossy but that she was clueful and he was simply rueful: She knew what she wanted, and he knew he didn’t want to fall too embarrassingly far behind.
They were with their parents, of course, two very loving, very involved, very indulgent Viet couples, but it was Madelyn Nguyen who led the troupe to my world, the Choo Choo Train kiosk at the Arrowhead Mall in suburban Phoenix, and it was Madelyn Nguyen who negotiated our transactions – everything but the credit card.
She took care about it, though. She walked all around the kiosk, lost in absent-minded concentration as she took everything in: The train, me in my Loco Willie outfit, all the candy and merchandise in the glass case (more…)