I hate chicken drumsticks. It stems from deep in my childhood when a whole chicken would be set on the table. One leg was reserved for my dad. And my eldest sister always insisted she get the other. To ward off a potential world war, eight of us kids developed a taste for the other parts. Take a peek into our refrigerator today, ad you'll find dozes of leftover morsels universally known as "the last piece". From chocolate cake to potato wedges, these will remain untouched until it is time to throw them out. All because no one wants to be accused of being the one who "gobbled it up". I'd never really thought of these habits as odd until a few years ago. That's when I realized that other families didn't subscribe to our unspoken mealtime survivor code: avoid danger, avoid blame, and above all, adjust to others.
These are just two of the many famous stories about life with my family. Of course, we'd have our more pang-Hallmark ones like when we'd play the Von Trapp children from the Sound of Music or when we'd bound down the stairs to welcome our dad as our mom handed him a warm face towel. A classmate was so aliw with our sheer number that he would recite our names as a memory game: Lourdes, Dindin, Misel, Tisa, Nini, Tata, Angela, Joey, Nicky, plus our parents, Chona and Cidito. No matter how many times he practiced, he would miss out on someone or get the order wrong - which shouldn't come as a shock considering that mom never seemed to get our names right, either. Many times I've been called "Dindin - I mean Misel - ah Joey - I mean Tata." Once she even frantically called my sister by our driver's name, Paning. At times I'd shrug it off as a fact of life and as a consequence of my mom's poor memory. Other times, it would irritate me to no end. Probably because it pointed to a deeper thing I was sorting through - the feeling of being unimportant, passed-over, and lost in the shuffle.