For my 9th birthday, my mother gave me an opened edition of Monopoly from the Goodwill near our rent-controlled apartment complex. In addition to the game, she also bought a tee shirt with the ironed-on phrase: The Smiths Take Disneyland, June 2010. The shirt was used as wrapping paper—and the pair of items became my present. I wore the shirt until I could stuff whole fists into the fabric. If they asked, I told people that my last name was, in fact, Smith even if my skin betrayed me.
The game was void of everything except the board and the silver dog. I guess we were also poor in fake money, too. I remember I would pull out the game in the final light of our sunset window and test what it would feel like to walk my dog on Pennsylvania Avenue. There, they must’ve had extra-long garages for their limos, cages full of sea otters for their fur coats, a whole McDonald’s in their basement.
I did not blame my mother for selling the board a year later for cash we used on a McDouble. Because it turned out, that was the present she got me for my 10th birthday.
I avoid McDonald’s now, not because the food is cheap, but because I am afraid that I will meet my mother’s ghost at the counter. Teary eyed. One hand gripping a couple bucks, and in the other, what’s left of a boy’s palm.
Maxwell Suzuki is a Japanese American writer who recently graduated from USC and lives in Los Angeles. Maxwell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in trampset, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, The Hellebore, and his personal website www.lindenandbuckskin.com. He is currently writing a novel on the generational disconnect of Japanese American immigrants and their children.