The Tech sisters don't date in high school.
Not because we're not asked. My older sister Aranee holds the record for five invites for a single dance, while my other sister, Bunnisa, follows closely behind with four. The discrepancy has nothing to do with their appearance. They look exactly the same, being twins and all. Shiny, ruler-straight black hair gliding sleekly over their shoulders; expressive, nearly black eyes that Bunny spruces up with fake lashes and a piece of Scotch tape to create a double eyelid. If Ari has the edge, it's only because she's warmer—while Bunny's icy perfection can be intimidating (notwithstanding the cutesy family nickname).
And me? Orrawin, the youngest sister, the baby of the family, the one who's always struggling—but never really able—to catch up? True to form, I lag way, way behind with a single invite for homecoming in the ninth grade. I wasn't even asked the other years, but I like to think—to hope, to pretend—that it's just because word of the Tech sisters' dating prohibition had gotten around.
It's also not because we're not interested. Ari famously got caught in digital art studio creating photos of her future children with crush and classmate Adam Scheffer. I would've died on the spot—or at least burst into tears and spent the rest of the year hiding in the girls' bathroom, where the stink of cheap perfume mixed with used feminine products would've killed me anyway. But Ari, being Ari, just smiled sheepishly and wrinkled her nose, and Adam fell headlong into love, if he wasn't already halfway there.
Not that it did either of them any good.
And it's not even because no one can pronounce our ridiculously long, Thai last name—Techavachara. There've been valiant attempts, that's for sure. My favorite was Josh Neven's "chicken cacciatore" in the sixth grade. Thank pra Buddha cho our family friend Mat Songsomboon shortened our last name to its current moniker. It stuck, and even our mom goes by "Dr. Tech" with her pediatric patients.
Which was maybe the last good thing Mat Songsomboon ever did.
But no. The Tech girls don't date in high school for one reason and one reason alone: because we aren't allowed.
"I don't think so," Papa said when Bunny wanted to go to the movies with a group of girl and guy friends.
"Mai dai det caut," Mama said when Ari asked to invite the partner of her history project over to study, which loosely translates to "absolutely, positively not."
"What will people say?" they asked in unison when the twins pointed out that the candidates for homecoming queen are typically escorted down the football field. My sisters ended up accompanying each other—and thank the mother hen and her six chicks reincarnated as stars that neither of them won. Just imagine if Ari or Bunny were kissed on the cheek by the homecoming king, in front of—gasp!—our entire small suburban town. Mama probably would've had heart failure—which her cardiologist husband could've diagnosed but not treated, since he would have been keeled over himself.
And so the Tech girls do not date—and have never dated—in high school.
"How come you're not engaged yet?" Mama asks my sisters three months before my high school graduation.
"You did not just ask us that." Bunny's hands freeze over the egg roll she's wrapping, her eyes flashing dangerously. Or maybe they just look dangerous because of the cat-eye she's applied on top of the lashes and Scotch tape. If I tried to pull off the same effect, I'd give myself a black eye—literally and figuratively.
Ari groans, even as her fingers continue to move. Already, she's amassed a pile of precisely wrapped skins larger than mine and Bunny's combined. "Seriously? We've been in college for how long? Two seconds?"
"It's not like flipping a switch," Bunny adds. "We can't go from not dating to married in four seconds flat."