Splash Mountain is the most popular ride, and we debate whether it’s worth the two-hour wait for the two-second drop at the end. We decide that it is. For the first hour and a half, the stop-and-go line moves so slowly. We play stupid riddle games to pass the time. As we get to the area of the tunnel where you know you’re almost there, we smell the muggy air-mist from the ride. And then, during one of those one-minute stops in the line, Toney throws my arms around his neck and backs us into a groove in the rocky cave wall. I get butterflies, chills, you name it. When he starts to open his mouth, I give him a kiss on the lips.
I feel a little awkward afterward. Not because it’s my first real kiss, but because a couple with a five-year-old child had to interrupt us to move forward. But I don’t care.
I imagine what my dad would do if he saw me at Disneyland. It would probably be a repeat of my sister’s incident, only with my sister laughing at my inconvenience. In the end, I get away with this mischievous act, but I know I won’t get away with everything.
On a hot Monday afternoon in April 2003, I get a second peek at the Hulk. My father witnesses his little girl wearing a pair of silver bracelets, and I’m not talking about Tiffany. I stand at the front door, escorted by two adults dressed in navy-blue uniforms. Slowly the halo around my head bends out of shape, forming two horns. I have never seen such anger, hurt, and disappointment on my dad’s face before. My sister’s incident cannot compare to what I have done. I am scared. A Filipino dad who is angry is as scary as a bull. You get ready to run.
I do my walk of shame into the house while the two officers tell him the whole story. I want to tell the officers not to mention Toney, but I stay quiet. I’m not about to risk digging myself into a bigger hole.
“She was with a boy about her age who actually stole the vehicle,” says the small female cop. The tall male cop continues, “She was just a passenger, but we would have to consider her to be an accomplice. Since she is a minor, we’ll leave the punishment up to you.”
At this point, I am so afraid of my dad that I would have opted for staying in juvie for the night. I am going to get it.
“What were you tinking, huh?” he yells at me in his broken English, staring with his evil glare.
“I don’t know!” I yell back, with attitude. I am so scared of my dad, I don’t know why my tone comes out like this. I guess I’m angry too. At least my English is better.
“Don’t talk to me like dat! I’m your podder!”
I run to my room.
I feel relieved that there’s a door between me and my dad. I don’t want a repeat of me getting a spanking for throwing a dictionary at my sister during a heated argument when I was eight. That was the last time I was punished physically, and I intend to keep it like that.
He knocks on my door.
“Open!” he says.
“What do you want?!” I yell through the door.
He gets louder. “Just open it!”
I open the door, then back up quickly.
“Who is this guy?”
“Some guy from school.” I feel guilty for denying Toney as my boyfriend, but I’m so mad. Also, it might be smart to leave that detail out. I don’t really know where our relationship is going at that moment anyway. If we end up breaking up, it’s pointless to build up another argument with my dad.
My sister, acting clueless, walks in from the other room. “What’s going on?” she asks. She knows. She isn’t deaf.
Shaking his head in frustration, my dad yells, “You’re grounded!”
“Do you even know what that means?” I challenge him because he’s never grounded me a day in my life.
“Dad, let me talk to her,” my sister calmly insists. She leads me toward the end of the hall, where the bathroom is.
“What’s wrong, Mae?” she asks with concern.
“I just want to get the fuck out of here!” I want to get away from my dad. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I need to be around someone that can comfort me, not yell out my mistakes and hold it against me. I know what I did was wrong, I just need space.
“Okay, but you can’t talk to Dad like that!”
“Man, whatever! Just get me the fuck out of here!” I feel so frustrated, hurt, mad, trapped, but guilty too. How dare I take this all out on my family? But I need to channel my anger somewhere.
“Okay, okay!” my sister says. “How about you just go to one of your friends’ houses for a while? I’ll take you there myself.”
“Fine. You talk to Dad then. I can’t talk to him.” I feel a little relief that the situation is out of my hands.
Ten minutes after entering the house, I am right out the door.
My dad was always more intimidating than my mom, based on their looks. He is tall and dark, with unreadable expressions, compared to my short, light-skinned, and jolly mom. You’d want to stay clear of him when he’s in a bad mood or about to be.
After the car-stealing incident, my dad didn’t speak to me for days. I missed being his little girl. I remember listening to “Perfect” by Simple Plan on repeat because it was exactly how I felt. I couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the phone and called Toney and suggested that it was about time they met.
I know my parents want my first and only boyfriend to be a Filipino aspiring to be in the military, but instead I give them a half-Filipino criminal. Toney did go to juvie for a night for grand theft auto, but his charges were reduced to a misdemeanor since he was a minor. He did several hours of community service and paid an abundance of fines, or at least his mom did, but he accepted his consequences and took responsibility for his actions. I just hoped that his good qualities would outweigh his bad in my parents’ minds.