That time Garrett And James ate congealed cow tendons in a Holiday Inn

It was 2002, and I had just gotten into college. Everyone around me was pretty ecstatic, especially since I had recently told my family about my UHBP: my Ultimate Homeless Backup Plan. The plan was that in the case I didn’t get into college,  I would live NEAR my first choice school, UCLA, in the alley behind the ever popular Diddy Reese cookie store. Carefree, drunk college students would throw half eaten scraps of cookies at me, and I would be just fine in terms of sustenance. Cookies have protein (or not). I’d live in a large refrigerator box and actually do pretty well for myself. But somehow, I got into school.

UCLA has this really robust freshman orientation program that involves a family campus tour. The entire Wong clan drove down to LA in a beige Previa minivan and prepared for a luxurious stay at the Holiday Inn off of the 405. It’s shaped like a toilet, and my dad quickly noticed that there were no emergency sprinklers.

‘If there’s a fire, we’re all dead.’

That was reassuring. I have two younger brothers named Garrett and James, both of whom are much nicer than I am. They had absolutely no interest in taking the family tour, so they pleaded until they got permission  to spend the day bumming around in the hotel room. My parents, who typically get hernias/ulcers/kidney stones just thinking about leaving their children alone, obliged. It was a new era! When they left, they gave Garrett specific instructions ‘NOT TO GO ANYWHERE’ and to lock the deadbolt. Obediently, Garrett and James did as they were told.

The first few hours of their day were awesome. They played video games and watched all time classics like Dangerous Minds, Weekend with Bernie, and Can’t Hardly Wait. But then, it was lunchtime and the two brothers got hungry.

Garrett, as the older brother, was having a moral dilemma. His internal monologue went something like this: “Mom and Dad didn’t leave us any money, so we can’t buy food. Chinese people aren’t allowed to order room service so…are we gonna starve?”

Panic was starting to set in. What if they DIED in the toilet shaped Holiday Inn off of Sunset? It would be a really pathetic way to go, and what would they do with the –

The groceries!

Earlier in the trip, we had made a stop at an Asian market in LA’s Chinatown where my parents purchased the savory combo of wasabi shrimp chips and canned spicy cow tendons. The cow dendons actually taste pretty decent when you heat them up and they are no longer a congealed burnt orange jello blob.

Left with no choice, Garrett decided to man up. He peeled open a can, grabbed a plastic spork, and speared the glistening, gelatinous, cow tendon popsicle. It emerged from the can as if it was alive, a perfect oval jiggling uncontrollably on the spork. Poor James, just 12 years old, quietly vomited into a Ralph’s paper bag.

You can imagine what happened next – my parents came home, exhausted and profoundly annoyed from listening to 20 year olds preach university folklore, only to find my brothers lying on the floor like crazed, rabid, starving hyenas.