Author Archives: Li Huang


I’ve heard at an early age one of my friends say to me that “the first child is always the sacrificial lamb.” Jin being the second son of two children in his family, he had every incentive to tell others that. I thought he was passing verbal wind. This was when we were in middle school. He always liked to speak to his own advantage. And so I never took him seriously until just the past few years.


I somehow managed to get my hands on a PS4 for William the night before launch day without pre-ordering. I guess I was lucky. But looking at the bigger picture I was even luckier to have a brother like him.

William was born on January 19, 2001 in a hospital in downtown Manhattan. Before him, I was the heir of the Huang family. I was told that he only cried briefly after delivery before quieting to a hush. I was born in 1990, 10 1/2 years older than William. I watched him grow up, and matured not only as an older brother but as an individual over the years. William was never the nagging, annoying type of a sibling. He always kept to himself. Whenever mom would take him to the doctor to get a shot, he never panicked at the notion or sight of having the needle stuck in him. He would cry for about half a minute after the shot was given and then resort back to his usual calm demeanor. I remember him the day that he arrived home with my mother with great joy. He was bundled in a stack of clothing and blankets since it was still winter. I remember family members taking turns posing for pictures with William in our arms. Whenever I held infant William in my arms he would either writhe uncomfortably in my arms or vomit all over me. As a child William was always merry. He never displayed any signs of pessimistic attitude and kept his chin at high altitude.

As a child in elementary school William loved to read and would resort to it whenever he could. He was always the intelligent type. He loved the game of chess with a passion and even joined the school chess club. He always wanted to play chess with me in his elementary school days and I would always beat him. But William wasn’t the type that stayed on the ground after being put down. He knew that the only way to improve at something was through practice and defeat. And so he wanted the challenge of a worthy adversary in chess so that he could get better at it. By the end of fifth grade I still beat him at the game but it took more and more mental strain for me to do so, and the games wound up being played at a slower and slower pace. William was accelerating at it with great haste.

William graduated elementary school with all ‘E’s,’ the highest letter grade and all ‘4’s,’ the highest number grade. During his last year of P.S. 60 he applied to and was accepted to ScholarsAcademy, a very prestigious school that ran from the sixth to twelfth grades. William wanted to go to Scholar’s Academy. He knew that an excellent quality middle school would grant him better entrance opportunities to high school, high school to college, and college to a fulfilling career. The males in the Huang family hit puberty/reached adolescence earlier than average and so by the middle of sixth grade William was feeling the effects of manhood. Unlike my father and me William matured very quickly. He has great command of countenance and possessed great posture. He already has a blueprint mapped out for what he wants to be in life. His goal is to be an engineer that deals with the auto, computer or aero industry. He has middle school under his belt with his attendance to Scholar’s Academy, ranked #7 in NYC’s top 10 middle schools for the 2012-2013 school year. He wants to nail Stuyvesant in the specialized high school exam. After that he wants to satiate himself with a college education at MIT (though I told him that Princeton is the better choice but he was adamant that MIT is more suitable for engineers). William is the definition of a man who knows what he wants.

Right now it’s been all talk but no credentials to back it up. After completing the sixth grade in an academically competitive environment, William emerged with a flat 98.0 average over the course of two terms, with three marking periods per term. Having just completed the first marking period of the seventh grade, William speaks softly while carrying the big stick of a 98.83 average. Over the course of his 12 years of life, I have rewarded William with video game console after video game console and game after game for his academic excellence. William is more of the reserved type though, and even told me to save up money for the future instead of buying him all these games. Indeed that’s what he does. From what our parents and relatives gave us over the course of previous Lunar New Years, William has saved up $300 plus worth of red envelope money. One day I asked him “William, what are you going to do with all that money? Are you going to buy candy with it? Maybe a brand new pair of Jordan sneakers?” He said “no, that would be a waste. I’m going to save up for college with it.” I’m glad I asked my parents to give me a brother in fourth grade. I’m glad that he turned out not only fine, but mighty promising. That is something I can never live up to.

I was never the academically-oriented or socially tuned person. I almost failed the second grade and struggled immensely throughout middle and high school. Whereas William gets his high nineties grades fairly easily, I struggled to get 85’s in middle school and 80’s in high school. I just wasn’t built the way I wanted to be built. William has begun his puberty stage in life. At the age of 12 he stands at a modest 5’6” while I only stand 5’7 1/2” fully erect. He is not as skinny as I am. His hands can not fit in my largest gloves. I am a perfect size 8 U.S. sneaker. William often times shifts uncomfortably in his size 10 1/2 Adidas, as if a big toe wanted to burst out.

Between family members and relatives, Li Huang is the failure and William Huang is the model child for a successful life. I am the lesser of the two. A part of me is happy and a part of me is ashamed. My brother will one day surpass me in life as he already has in the game of chess. That’s right. Ever since the middle of the sixth grade, I can no longer defeat him in the game of great wits. I am left wondering why I was put together this way, why I am not more like my little brother. But I am also happy. Happy that my brother didn’t turn out like me and that he has a very bright future ahead of him. Happy that in my family there is finally some compensation.

Sunny’s Blues (Memoir)

“Four. Put them bars up. Look at this convict here.” It was better to get that four and land in jail rather than a three, at least, and be bewildered by the hotel sitting at Marvin Gardens, or getting a five, six or eight and landing on either of the four houses on the green spaces, all courtesy of Sunny. I had squatted on Atlantic Avenue already and was running out of money real quick. Sunny knew his way around the monopoly board like a hawk which patrolled its territory. The open skies saw houses and hotels under his deed and nothing but the barren wastelands of the Third Reich under mine. I would come down to hang out with him and a sibling of his every Saturday in the sixth and preceding half of the seventh grade.

Sunny was a brilliant and resilient individual. He was a mixture of calm and shy, what would be perceived as “reserved” for any age. But he dealt his own trade very well. Sunny always knew what he wanted, and never diverged from his goals or true intentions. Sunny lived on the first floor of the building while I dwelled on the fourth. I had known Sunny since elementary school, P.S.130M. It happened that we attended the same junior high school, M.S. 167 Robert F. Wagner. One of the key differences aside from level of outreach in personality between the two of us was work ethic. I always emphasized fun before work and Sunny work above all. On Saturdays I would give Sunny a call sometime in the afternoon and ask if I could come down and hang out. He would almost always say yes because he would finish his school work on Fridays and so I would tread down to the first floor. Vintage Sunny. Good old days.

In early sixth grade the game that everyone invested themselves with was Neopets. By the middle of the year, almost everyone in the class had a virtual pet to feed, equip and battle with. Sunny had a Neopet. I had a Neopet. For some reason Sunny always acquired Neopoints, the monetary value of the Neopet Universe, quicker and more efficiently than I did. I always fathomed how he would pull this off. Whenever we would battle, I would go into the fight on the lower rung of the ladder, as he would out-level me in all Neopet stats and abilities, come in with heftier equipment for battle, and ultimately win the fight. This would go on to have a lot more daunting implications for the year to come.

By mid-to-late sixth grade, in early 2002 a new trend had presented itself. Andrew Gomer’s Jagex platform had brought about a relatively new game called Runescape which I believe was unveiled in 1999 at the earliest, but surely enough, had blossomed into one of the premier games of the time. Runescape was a free MMORPG, which meant that everyone with readied internet access could get their mouse arrow on it. I believe it was Sunny who first informed me of this new phenomenon. A few boring clicks morphed into heightened sensitivity for the Runescape terrain and within a week evolved into the best game I had ever indulged in. Sunny and I used to kill goblins by Lumbridge, the starting point and noob harbor in the game. We would kill them for experience and the petty gold that they left behind, even bury their bones after the fight for prayer points. For some reason Sunny excelled in the game far faster than I did also, as he did in Neopets. It was him who also told me that there was bigger world out there than Lumbridge, that there was a whole world of archery, magic, sword fighting and so forth to explore. He also informed me of quicker methods of making money in that universe. Consequentially, when we fought in that game, he always won. But there are no winners in a real fight.

Every Saturday we would interact on either Neopets or Runescape depending on the calendar (Neopets quickly expired after the popularity of Runescape spread like wildfire) from our desktops. Soon afterward, from 1-4pm I would come down and I would observe Sunny doing his rounds in either of them and marvel at just how well he executes triggers, toggles, commands and game plan/strategy with precision. After that it’d be Monopoly time! The three of us would sit on the floor in the pattern of a triangle. One of us would distribute property, another would play the role of the banker and the third would chip in a little of both. Tiffany was a year older than us. She got into a private school called Poly Prep: Epiphany and would end up studying there from the sixth or seventh grade all the way until the end of the twelfth. She was always bright and hardworking. Perhaps more so than Sunny himself. Hey, I guess it runs in the family. Like Sunny, Tiffany was soft-spoken. But unlike Sunny, Tiffany was sexy. The three of us would play Monopoly for hours on end, sometimes we wouldn’t be able to finish before 7pm, when Sunny’s mother came back. Monopoly was very competitive, as in real world arrangements and ordeals. When it came down to the board, dice, property and money, no one trusted the other. Deals were made between the other two if one party became too dominant. I had my first wet dream off of Tiffany. It came much later but… hey it is what it is. I wish I could’ve hadBreakfast at Tiffany’s after waking up. Sometimes it would be difficult to play with the siblings because Tiffany would get too much of my attention. Never touch a bro’s sister. Don’t even flirt. That’s inscribed in the XY bible.

After on average two or three hours of Monopoly, the three of us would go outside. Sunny and I would head up to the handball court either in front of I.S. 131 or the one behind it to engage in indefinite rounds of handball while Tiffany watched. Handball was the only thing I could beat Sunny at. I didn’t make too much out of it because we were friends. I remember the curved wall that we played in front of the school and how that would angle the deflection of the ball from it and the flat surface which we dueled against at the back of the school. Most of the time it was Monopoly followed by handball, but sometimes it was visa versa. Either way, by the time both had been completed, I usually had to go home.

It happened in the earlier portion of seventh grade. I believe it was November or December of 2002 when it occurred. It was a damp and dark Saturday. I was watching Stephen King’s Needful Things on TV when I got bored. I gave Sunny a call and he said it was alright to go down to the first floor. Him and his sister were playing a game on the Gameboy. I believe it was Warior Land or one of its sequels/spin-offs. When neither Sunny nor his sister could get past a stage in the game, Tiffany inquired for my help. Sunny said to her “he can’t do it, he’s a LOSER.” LOSER. That word stung me like an acupuncture needle in the wrong region of the body. Whenever I feel angry or overwhelmed, I smile. I try to cover it up. It’s like a reflex reaction. And so I smiled. Then I took Sunny’s handball and ran up three flights of stairs and locked the door. He kept banging on my apartment and saying “give me back my ball!” Eventually he was attracting attention from my neighbors so I had to open the door and give him his ball back. He was my best friend for the longest time. And I had lost just that.

In March of 2013 I met up with Sunny. Since September 2006 I had moved to Queens and looking back on things, I finally had the guts to get into the building and knock on his door. We had coffee together in a Starbucks by Broadway. I told him everything that I had written above (except the whole “your sister is hot” thing). I could tell he felt melancholy. I felt worse. I think. I don’t know. But what I do know is that after we parted again, I began to feel the blues. Sunny’s Blues.