Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

Elaine Lui

Language: English

Pages: 143


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

As the 800,000+ U.S. fans of Elaine Lui’s site know, her mother, aka The Squawking Chicken, is a huge factor in Elaine’s life. She pulls no punches, especially with her only child. “Where’s my money?” she asks every time she sees Elaine. “You’ll never be Miss Hong Kong,” she informed her daughter when she was a girl. Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice, warnings, and unwavering love that has guided Elaine throughout her life. Using the nine principles that her mother used to raise her, Elaine tells us the story of the Squawking Chicken’s life—in which she walked an unusual path to parent with tough love, humor, and, through it all, a mother’s unyielding devotion to her daughter. This is a love letter to mothers everywhere.

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Piety was at work once again. Ma believed it was their duty to take them in. So Ma went back to work when I was just a few months old. By then, she was working full-time at a hardware store and then driving downtown to wait tables at a hotel. She’d leave me with Dad’s parents and return home well after I’d been put to bed. The new house was an ambitious purchase. Dad had to put off his studies to make enough hours in the accounting department of a computer company so that they could keep up with

dancing, mischievous eyes and a precocious smile, features that she used to great effect in taking on the role. She had two prominent front teeth that were slightly crooked, giving her mouth an overbite effect that only added to her appeal. Barbara was the most famous actress in Hong Kong at the time. Even Ma found her irresistible. She would always say that Barbara Yung is very sahng mahng. It’s an expression used to describe someone who is very active, who never stops. Sahng literally means

have to tell me the truth. But this is your opportunity to tell me the way you want to tell me.” Ma never had to elaborate on the “or else” part. It all came out then. My mourning over Barbara Yung. My desire to cement her memory with my teeth. My obsession to be Barbara, if only in the mouth. At the end of my confession, I became defiant. I told Ma that these were my teeth. It was my mouth. It was my face. I could do whatever I wanted. That she couldn’t make me get another retainer. I refused.

consequence. She cautioned that a couple of crooked teeth was getting off easy. It wasn’t permanently damaging. It wouldn’t alter the course of my life. But that it was a good, lasting reminder, every time I opened my mouth, of a rash, ill-conceived decision I had made in my youth. Then she explained the motivation for why she kept at me about the retainer, all summer long, every chance she got, and always in front of other people. Ma was preparing me for future criticism: “My criticism of you

same way, Chow’s pound would always taste better, time after time, because of his special slicing technique, a family secret that was passed down from his ancestors. Butcher Chow had only one child, a daughter so pretty, so delicate he refused to teach her the family trade, believing it to be beneath her beauty. Instead, when his daughter became of age, Butcher Chow held meat-cutting competitions to find her a suitable husband to which he could pass on his coveted skill. Families sent their sons

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