My first Cambodian New Year in USA.

"Come here!" he said.

I stood up, dragged my body slowly toward him. He smiled, opened his arms out, and wrapped his muscular body over mine. His strong arms squeezed firmly on my back as I buried my face on his chest, and inhaled the nice fragrant of his cologne.

"Shhhhhhhhhhhh. My sweetheart, everything will be OK. Smile!" His voice was so smooth. I tried to smile for him but when I looked at his brown eyes, I pouted.
"Awww. Those pucker-lips get me, every time," he said and gently placed a kiss on my forehead.

"Your cheating heart..." a squeaky, loud voice from the backyard lifted in the air. We looked at each other and laughed out loud. It was my uncle singing his heart out on karaoke to his favorite song during our Cambodian New Year party.

"Oh no, not that Hank William 's song again!" he cried.
"Let's go show the Yankees how to Ram Vong. " He said, extended his hand out to me, he winked at me and continued, "After you, princess?"
"No bong, not today" I said.

"Don't you want to dance with me?" He dropped down on his knees, held his hands together in front of his chest, blinking his eyes and gave me this knee-weakening sad puppy dog look.

"Pleaseeeeeeeeee!" he begged. He was too silly and too cute for me to refused. I nodded my head and giggled.

"That's my girl!" he cried, jumped right up and gave me another hug. He told me to get dressed while he went to intercept the microphone from my uncle, "before all the guests went to sleep," he laughed.

"Want a drink? " My little cousin grinned from ear to ear at me.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Long Island iced tea," my little cousin answered.
"Iced tea from Long Island?" I asked.
"Yeah, made in Long Island. It's delicious. Would you like to try?" my little cousin asked.
"Tell me where you got it, I'll go get some," I said.
"From my dad, he told me to hold his drink while he sang karaoke. Just taste it," my little cousin said as he handed a glass of ice tea to me.
"Taste it," my little cousin said.
"No, it's your dad's," I said.

"Taste it, he won't mind. Long Island iced tea is good for you. Drink it!" My little cousin talked me in to trying the Long Island ice tea. All that crying earlier made me very thirsty so I took a big gulp of iced tea. My little cousin cracked up when he saw my horrible face reacting to the taste of the Long Island iced tea. It was not what I expected-it tasted somewhat sweet and bitter. It tasted weird.

When I heard one of my favorite Khmer songs "Ram Vong Chol Chnam Thmey" playing on the speakers, I turned my head to looked at the stage. He was talking to the DJ but his eyes were looking at me and he started dancing with the music. He Ramvonged his way toward my table and when he got in front of me, he stopped. Clasping his hands together and gave me a tradition Khmer bow, a formal invitational gesture. Nervously I smiled and "sompeas" (bowed) back to him but my feet still glued on the floor and my face turned beet red. My little cousin looked at us and cracked up, and that little brat pushed me out on the dance floor so hard, I almost fell forward.

All eyes were on us. I swallowed a big gulp of dry air and moved with the music to the dance floor. He gave me his famous wink and danced closer to me. He courted behind me. As he leaned his handsome face over my shoulder, he whispered to me, "Smile, baby!" I smiled to him but avoided looking at the crowd, because I was too shy. My palms were wet and my hands and legs were shaking. My shyness slowly disappeared when the guests started to get up and dance with us.

"Wax on, wax off!" My little cousin shouted. All the hands went up as my little cousin commanded. The scene was hilarious, a silly kid giving Ramvong lessons to American guests. The guests were as stiff as a broomstick, thumping and marching around the dance floor. My little cousin danced Ramvong by himself, moving from front to the end, and shouting "wax on, wax off" to the guests. At the end of the song, I put my hands together and bowed to him, he bowed back to me. I was going to leave the dance floor, but he grabbed my hand when Saravan song started.

"Let's show them how to Saravan." Before I could say anything, he put his hands up and bowed to me again. I thought, "What a nice gentleman!" Before we began to dance. I enjoyed dancing with him, even though he was such a ham on the dance floor, showing off his Saravan moves. He kept gliding and swirling his body against mine and flirting with me on the dance floor.

The dance floor was packed with guests, dancing Saravan with us. I laughed when I saw how the guests danced and the way my little cousin flapped his arms. That night, there were only very few of us that knew how to dance Saravan. Our American guests and my little cousin did the Saravan like a dancing duck. They were amusingly beautiful.

I was happy to see everyone having a very good time, welcoming the Cambodian New Year with us. If he didn't have that talk with me, I would miss my chance of meeting all these nice guests and I would have missed all the fun. I probably would still be moping around in my room, feeling sorry for myself for having to spend my first New Year away from home. My selfishness almost ruined our New Year celebration tonight.

"I got you some Long Island iced tea," my little cousin said and handed over a big tall glass ice tea to me.

"Thanks," I said. I took a little sip; it still tasted weird but lots sweeter. Maybe that was how Long Island iced tea is supposed to taste, I thought, and gulped the whole glass of iced tea. I was very thirsty from dancing.

"Whoa!" my little cousin exclaimed. "More tea?" he grinned.

"No, thank you," I told him. Normally, I don't like too much liquid intake at night. If I can help it, I like to sleep through the night.

My little cousin pulled a chair closer to mine and sat down, starring at my face and grinned. "Crazy kid," I thought. I asked my little cousin what was on my face that he kept starring at? The kid laughed, "If you don't stare at me, how do you know I stare at you?" he said. "Smart Alex," I thought and pinched his thigh. "Ouch!" My little cousin cried. I got him to turn his face away from me. We sat and watched people sing karaoke and dance.

I smiled when I saw that he was looking at me. He made his way toward my table. My little cousin got up and moved over to the next chair so that he could sit next to me.

"Your face is red-too much dancing? " He asked. He held my hand up and gently placed a kiss on my palm.
"No, I'm OK," I giggled.
"You're a great dancer," he said.
"Thank you and you are too, bong," I said.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
"Yes, bong," I answered.
"I love you, oun!" he told me.
"I love you too, bong," I smiled to him.
"I don't want to see my little sweetheart sad again, OK?" he said.

As we were talking an elderly well-dressed American lady came by. She shook our hands and said,"I missed the introduction, I was telling Randy you two are like Asian 'Barbie and Ken', but Randy told me that you guys are brother and sister." Then she turned to me and continued, "I want to tell you, your black dress is beautiful on you." My face turned redder as I thank her for the kind words.

Hour or so later, I went in the kitchen to check on my voice box. But it was empty. I guess all my friends were out celebrating News Years as well. I was hoping they were thinking of me.

My little cousin ran in the kitchen looking for me.
"Hey, can you say '1 Tequila'?" he asked.

I looked at him puzzled. I didn't understand what he was trying to do, but I didn't say a word because this little kid was very annoying sometimes. I moved to the den and sat on the recliner near the TV. Again, my little cousin followed me.

"Can you count '1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila'? " he asked.
"Leave me alone!" I yelled.
"Come on, count it and I'll go away," my little cousin laughed.

I rested my head on the chair and for some reason my head started to spin, the ceiling was also moving. My heart was pumping fast, but my eyes lids felt heavy. I tried to concentrate on my little cousin's blurring face but I couldn't keep my eyes opened. The last thing I remember was counting for my little cousin. My little cousin said when I got to "1 Tequila," I passed out.

The next day I woke up. I didn't remember my brother carrying me upstairs. I didn't remember my aunt tucking me into bed. However, I do know that I woke up with a bad headache and very nauseated stomach, and I didn't wake up until almost noon. As I lay in bed, I thought of the fun time I had the night before. I could have killed my little cousin, but I laughed when I thought about how silly I was to trust him. Even if he is a brat and tricked me, he was still family, and I did have a good time.

Looking back at my first Cambodian New Year away from home, I realize that wherever we are living, we should try to make the best out of every situation and accept the things that we cannot change. I could have stayed in my room and cried all night about it instead, I tried to make the best out of the situation. The most important thing I learned is to treasure every moment of happiness with our loved ones. Be grateful of what we have and count our blessings that we still have each other.

I also learned that Long Island Iced Tea is full of alcohol. Right now, I'm thinking what kind of pay back I can give to a 10 year-old little brat?

Sour Sdey Chnam Thmey!
Happy New Year everyone!

Mylinh Nakry April,2001

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Copyright by Mylinh NakryŠ 2001-2006 All rights reserved. No part of the my stories may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without prior written permission from me. Any use of this material to target advertising or similar activities are explicitly forbidden.