No Small Tales: 70th Birthday

When I teach my fiction classes, I always tell my students: Write what you know. Of course, I didn't make this up; it's a cliché by this point, but one that makes sense. Even if you're a 55-year-old male who grew up in Spain and you're writing a story about a 93-year-old woman who spent her entire life in Alaska, you've got to bring what you know about life, your own experiences, to the character if you want your reader to be able to connect.

Carolyn Sun knows a lot about Korean families. She's Korean, 1st generation, and has spent a lot of time writing about her experiences growing up in what she calls a "crazy, neurotic family."

She also knows a lot about Korean customs, like special birthdays. For instance, a 60th birthday in Korea is cause for a major celebration. Every 60 years, the Chinese Zodiac cycle repeats, so if you're born in the year of the Tiger, when you hit 60, it's the year of the Tiger all over again. Koreans call it the gahngee cycle.

In Carolyn's touching and hilarious story, "70th Birthday," a girl is asked by her father on the occasion of his 70th birthday (also a big one in the Korean tradition), to write a 10-page letter filled with all the best memories she has of her childhood. But what's a girl to do if she can't recall a one?

Give "70th Birthday" a read and find out. And for more great short stories, head on over to, our partners in this feature.

70th Birthday

by Carolyn Sun

It's a few days before my father's 70th birthday.

I'm on the phone with my younger sister, Jenny.

"Have you written yours?" Jenny already knows what I'm talking about.

"No," she responds, "have you?"

"No," I say, glumly. "I'll come up with something."

We're both silent. We've been having this same conversation for the past eight months. The fact that we're having that same, boring conversation in the first place is my fault, too. I shouldn't have asked my father THE QUESTION. Here I thought I was being a good daughter at the time.

You see, eight months ago, I'd been feeling pretty flush, financially. I didn't own a pimp cup with my name in diamonds, but still, I had a steady, full-time job teaching English, and for the first time in my life, I'd actually seen money in my bank account that wasn't a gift from my family. I'd felt proud of myself.

It then occurred to me: I could actually buy my father's love for the first time in my life for his birthday! He was turning 70, a big deal in a Korean's lifetime. Like the Jews, Koreans have set aside big deal birthdays that are expensive and require elaborate parties and expensive gifts.
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The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas

When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”



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