The word above represents something very dear to me. The actual Thai word is pronounced sòk-gà-bpròk. It was the first Thai word my mother tried to teach me.

She was using it to describe my father, who she loved dearly but also found playfully annoying and inappropriate with his attempts at humor. Of course she loved card games with her Thai Sistren, jai-lai, bingo, horror films and Southern Comfort, and had a preoccupation with American slang and curse words. She didnʼt believe films were bad for kids. She took me to a drive-in to see “Donʼt Go in the House” when I was 5 years old and let me see Fulciʼs “Gates of Hell” when I was 10. She cooked two dinners a day — one American the other Thai — and I always attended both meals. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from and spend time with her and hear stories of the motherland. She was wonderfully open-minded and completely stubborn at the same time. There was something in her contradictions that made her that much more vital to me.

My father was a tried and true Republican who believed in gun rights and that the freedom of the individual was the most important thing in the world. He was a Catholic who never took me to Church because I didnʼt need to believe what he believed in to be righteous. He had a keen and penetrating mind. He reversed engineered everything in our home and had an uncanny ability to pinpoint problems with mechanics. He didnʼt put much stock in knowing facts; he always stressed to me the importance of understanding the foundation. When I had a question about how a bullet fired out of a gun, telling me was not enough. We would melt lead, cast bullets, measure powder, prep the brass and primer, and build the bullet. He wanted me to see the value of work, and that is something I still carry with me today. For someone who didn’t talk much, he had a wicked sense of humor.

Sokeaboak is a testament to the two people who had the most to do with me becoming who I am. In many ways they were polar opposites, and, as in alchemy, there was no rational explanation as to how or why these two disparate elements should come together to create something more than themselves. I hope that my endeavors in storytelling mirror the stories of my parents’ lives.