“Don’t you ever get tired of being Super Asian Woman?”
“And don’t you ever get tired of screwing up our model minority stereotype, homeboy?” His sister, Congresswoman Cynthia Kang, shot back. She hadn’t been in the shop for ten minutes when their pretend politeness had worn off and they settled back into their usual combativeness. It was alien to do otherwise.
“Obviously not.” Cyrus Kang combed back his longish hair from his forehead and turned to help a customer who’d been eyeing a rack of various skateboards. The potential buyer was a lithe and tawny young woman in low-rise hip-huggers and bare midriff. Exposed on her tanned lower back was her tramp stamp, an intricate tattoo done in a variation of the popular Maori design.
“Look, don’t try and sell me one of those lame girl skateboards,” the young woman said to Kang’s brother. She had a stud in her nose and a series of smaller-to-larger hoops starting at the top of an ear and following the curvature to her lobe.
Cyrus Kang nodded. “Right on. Wouldn’t think of it. So–old school or longboard?”
The Congresswoman turned from the two and gazed out onto the boulevard cutting through Gardena. Across the street from the skate shop was another series of storefronts, including a custom rim emporium and the House of Seven Delights restaurant offering a menu ranging from chicken teriyaki plates with tempura fried vegetables to carne asada burritos.
After some back and forth, including the young woman writing down the web address of her My Space page, the two concluded their tête-à-tête and she left with her new skateboard.
“Charming the pants off ’em while selling ’em the moon.”
Her brother playfully socked her in the shoulder as he moved back behind the glass case counter. “Just trying to emulate my big sis.” He returned to the stool he’d been perched on when she’d entered. “So I know you didn’t drive down here just to see my mojo working. Magical as that might be.”
“Let me buy you lunch.”
He gave her a quizzical look. “What you want, Cynthia? You know you can’t pull that okey-doke on me.” He pointed his chin toward the street and the restaurant across the way. “Now if we had some better joints around her you might be able to bribe me with quality amounts of surf and turf.”
One thing consistent about her brother: no matter his interests from surfing to designing xeriscapes, he never got into being a vegetarian. “I need to talk to Connie.”
He sipped from his bottle of vitamin water. “Didn’t you see him at his pop’s funeral?”
“I did. but a matter has come up since then that I need to ask him some questions about.”
He scratched at his unshaven chin. “You still ain’t said what for.”
“Must you always be so obstinate with me? You are not his appointment secretary, Cyrus.” She knew he enjoyed needling her, but she couldn’t resist dropping into their old routine of one-upping each other like “Spy vs. Spy” in Mad magazine.