She sat down at a piano for this interview, though she didn’t play for me until I was done with my questions. In spite of her young age, having just turned 29, Thu had over a year as the CEO of Cote and Savoie Banking, before being forcibly ousted last month.
What is your name?
“Dương Thị Thụ…I don’t really get to say that much.”
So which one is your first name?
“Thu. Don’t…please don’t try to pronounce it correctly. No one does anymore.”
But it’s a lovely name. Do you know why you were named that?
“I was born in autumn…so I got a name that means autumn. But Andrea thought it was lovely too.”
“You can tell?”
Is he special to you?
“He…he was my husband.”
“That’s the problem…I miss him so much.”
But are you taken now?
“It’s hard to think of myself as taken. I didn’t feel like I could move on from Andrea at all…but…I think I tried.”
I still think that’s taken.
“Okay. His name is Gene.”
Is he a good partner?
“He helps me get over this other guy.”
“His name was Axel…he worked for me. I…I feel like everyone’s been telling me that I shouldn’t feel for him the way I do. But before that they were saying I should move on and let someone like Axel in! I hate that! Why do I even try and do what I’m told?!”
Stop being a Mary Sue! (I figured that it wasn’t the statement for her throwing a tantrum…who’s a perfect wish-fulfillment like that anyways?)
So…leaving that. What’s your eye color?
Strange things can happen.
“But not really. You won’t find a full Viet with blue eyes. Axel was half…his are brown too.”
And black is your hair color?
“Yeah. I’ve never dyed it.”
Have you thought of it?
“No…I like keeping my hair healthy. It’s really important to me. Some of it’s extensions because I kept losing it in clumps when I was sick or sad but I made sure they’re in black too.”
Well, compliments to your hairdresser. I couldn’t tell at all.
“No one can. Cecelia is the best.”
I bet. Where did you find her?
“Uh…Gian drives me there. It’s one block down on June St. Really far away from…from…” (long pause) “…from where my mother used to work.”
Was she a hairdresser?
(Just a nod)
Have you any other family members?
“I…that’s actually a complicated question.”
Are they dead or dead to you?
“Like, I’m the last Duong and it’ll die with me. I don’t want to be a Duong and I don’t even want to be Vietnamese. Before…” (some tears fall) “…before my son died, I made sure that he wouldn’t be a Duong. He’d be a Cote like his dad and he’d be raised with Andrea’s family and with everything they held dear. A lot of them hate me, but…”
“…they’re the only family I ever wanted too. I even thought I’d get a chance with his kids. I did everything to try and get them to like me but then they…they killed my baby! They tried to kill me! And I’ve been stupid and letting my guard down because of this stupid olanzapine! Now I think I’m stupid too!”
Oh, how about pets?
“My Cha always wanted a cat. I don’t know if I’m a pet person though. I like petting dogs if they come up to me and jump on me, but that doesn’t mean much, does it?”
. Now tell me something you don’t like?
“My stepkids. They ruined my life.”
Do you have any activities/hobbies that you like to do?
“I play piano but it’s hard for me to find much else to like. I can’t cut myself anymore so it’s hard to find other things I enjoy.:
Have you ever hurt anyone else?
“Apparently everyone in my life if you ask my therapist, but I’m still trying to see which ones I really did and which ones are just faking it.”
Ever… killed anyone before?
“I’m the one who gets murdered! I’m just making sure it won’t happen ever.”
What kind of animal are you? Something that could defend yourself instead?
“Andrea liked to call me daddy’s little sex kitten so I think that.”
Name your worst weaknesses.
“Dr. Chowdhury wants me to do this twice a week with her.”
Anything you want to repeat?
“…thinking that I can keep yelling at people and then apologizing and thinking it’ll all be okay.”
Do you have a good example for that in your life?
Do you look up to anyone at all?
All the time?
“All the time…he’s perfect, even when he isn’t.”
So you’re straight, right?
“I’m not a faggot like Mike and that makes me really thankful.”
…you shouldn’t use that word, and you can’t be a gay man anyways.
It’s…it’s in the meaning.
“I didn’t know. Where should I have learned that?”
Did you go to school?
“No, I’m a dropout.”
A very successful dropout, it seems.
“Yeah…I just didn’t learn well in school. I learned a lot about things I loved instead. I had Ông teach me how to play piano and I was able to teach myself how to be a mother…at least I think I would have done a great job with that.”
Ever want to marry and have kids again?
“Oh…I really do.”
And I hope you do.
“I need kids so I can get back at Anthony. He used to be my best friend until he betrayed me and had a family too. He has two kids now and he probably knocked up his stupid camera whore girlfriend again. That’s all she does. She just pops out kids for him while I made his music possible! He should have tried to save my baby but he didn’t do anything!”
…oh, you made music together.
“He has a lot of bands and we were in one called Monstrances. It was, like, symphonic metal with a lot of goth rock and pop influences. Like it was perfect for me because it could rely on piano a lot.”
And how did you get to know Anthony?
“He’s Andrea’s son.”
“And the interesting thing was that he used to like me. He admired me like no one else did. He loved my music and being around me.”
He sounds like a besotted fanboy.
“No…everyone else thought so though. Like he had a crush on me. It’d even worse if he did though. I mattered to him. What did Suraya ever do?”
Do you have other fanboys?
“I think Axel counts as one.”
You said you were in a band.
“I was…I dunno if they were fanboys though. I just had people who liked my music.”
What are you most afraid of?
But if you had to avoid one thing for the rest of your life.
Is that more of a fear when you’re rich?
“I think so…I never felt like I had everyone’s eyes on me until I met Andrea. Then everyone wanted to hate me.”
What do you usually wear?
“Sweaters and jammies now. I could dress up for work though. I have lots of dresses and suit jackets and really fine things…Andrea used to buy me everything I asked for.”
Any favorite pieces?
“I used to have this cheap shirt I wore around Andrea that said Daddy’s Princess but I can’t wear it now.”
Brings up bad memories?
“Yeah…I’m still his princess a little but I feel like I don’t deserve that now.”
What’s one food that tempts you?
“It used to be nothing and now it’s everything.”
What a change!
…am I annoying you?
It’s not over, though.
“But when will it be?”
It always depends on the person. Discussion changes with everything you answer.
So, I know you’re rich, but were you always upper-class?
“No…not at all.
So you were very poor.
“Everyone in first grade made fun of me for it. I didn’t know that most Viets in this city have some money. My family did too but then my Cha was born and my grandparents gave up everything to pay for his medical bills…and mine too.”
It’s tragic, really.
“I still feel bad for it sometimes. Gian said I need to stop so I won’t do stupid things like skip doctor’s appointments or stop getting my meds because…that’s just a habit now. It still is. I was young, I needed a lot of medication and care, and I couldn’t get any of it sometimes.”
And no one would help you?
“I didn’t have any friends who would. Cha and Mẹ didn’t really have them either. They were just…you know, stuck in their own worlds.”
How many friends do you have now?
“I had two but now I don’t need to see them because I have Gene.”
Why? Is he banning you from having friends?
“I mean…you’re supposed to dump all your friends when you fall in love. That’s just how life works.”
It’s not how it works at all.
“But that’s what Andrea and Axel did.”
Anyways…what are your thoughts on pie?
“I like Gian’s pies. Now I’m getting hungry more at dinner and I’m begging him for a pot pie.”
What about fish pies?
“I dunno…I can’t digest all that milk and Gian says that it needs it.”
“I can’t drink much.”
It doesn’t have to be alcoholic.
“I like juice and ginger ale a lot.”
What’s your favorite place?
“My babies’ nursery. I spent so long making it perfect.”
Oh, right, your son died. How old was he?
“Six weeks…I lost another baby too but I can’t figure out who did it…and it might have just been fate. That’s seriously the worst thing to admit. I thought Andrea saved me from being unlucky but it’s just been bad thing after bad thing and now even I’m starting to believe that it’s all chance! That no one poisoned Jacob or tried to harm me and I’m just doomed to this life.”
You’re not. I think life can go on.
“I mean…I know my therapist wants me to believe that too.”
What does she want for you?
“I used to think that she just wanted me to sit down and shut up and accept everything cruel that happened, but now I think it’s a little deeper.”
“…she might want me to live a better and honest life. And maybe that is something I want.”
Are you still interested in anyone to live a better life with?
“It’s not worth it to be so into Andrea but I still am…I’m really not trying out new things the right way though.”
But you sounded like you were okay with Gene.
(She looks around to see if anyone else is listening. The room is empty. Gian promised not to listen in)
“I am, but…I miss Axel a lot. There’s something missing when I’m with Gene that Axel really completed and I dunno what it is. But I don’t have a choice between them now. Gene’s okay. I like him a ton…but he’s okay”
That was a stupid question, actually.
“No, even you knew that my heart isn’t where it should be.”
My next one doesn’t sound much better.
Would you rather swim in a lake or the ocean?
“I don’t like swimming.”
It’s good exercise, though.
“Andrea used to swim in a pool at the gym though. He…he had really nice shoulders because of it. So I think a pool’s better.”
You still think he’s handsome, don’t you?
“He was really, really hot. I liked his hooked nose and all his chest hair.”
So what else about him made him your type?
“I don’t think I have a type though.”
None at all?
“There’s not much that Andrea and Axel and Gene have in common! But…I like them all. They make me feel warm and safe and it doesn’t matter who they are or what they look like. I feel loved and cared for…”
Yes, that’s a type.
“You mean like…daddy and little girl stuff?”
That is a fetish…can’t say it’s mine.
“Well…it’s not mine.”
Didn’t you call your ex-husband daddy to my face, though?
“Yeah…I did. But it’s not a fetish. Everyone thinks it is though. Like…Persephone from the band tried to tell me that it was, that I was weird for being a ‘little girl’ in bed. I…I don’t know! I just thought of Andrea like he was my dad and it was really comforting to be treated like his little princess all the time. I didn’t think it was sexy. It was my life.”
(I let her cry it out again. It still sounded grossly sexual to me, but there was no changing her mind)
So was your sex very vanilla?
“Is that a fetish too?”
“We wanted a baby…so Andrea liked to fill me with his magic syrup so we’d have one. Isn’t that what sex is all about?”
(I refused to comment further on that and needed to change the subject)
Camping or indoors?
“I’ve never been camping.”
Would you ever want to?
“No…I’m scared of sleeping outside. It’s bad enough sleeping inside when I’m alone.”