He calls me little doll – munequita and other things, like little grape, little mango, little goat. He says these things to me because no one says them to him. He treats me with cautious affection. He speaks because he can, and if I pick up some jewel of wisdom then hey. That’s fine, but that’s not the point of this story, which is less of a story and more of a free-flowing soliloquy that was sometimes darkly funny or pointedly prescient.
He talks like some people sing. Mexican Spanish. Elongating the syllables at the end, holding on longer than is strictly necessary, each word connected to the next. It reminds me of the way the sun feels. Languorous. Languishing. This is the way I talk when I’m warm and comfortable and my Mexicanness is transmuted through my valley girl way of talking. Did the valley girls get it from us?
The mimosa is effervescing in my nose, little bubbles popping in my face. I can smell the fermentation of the champagne. Is this mimosa giving me diabetes right now? Probably. I sip slowly, staving off the diabetes by at least 10 or 11 minutes.
He looks at his nails, the ceiling, the tree.
“You know what I’ve been seeing a lot of lately, munequita?” He leans forward a little. “Dead skunks. Yeah. I’ve seen like 17 in the past 2 weeks. They are.. everywhere. It feels like a sign, like locusts, but skunks? Ooohf. What is diosito trying to tell me with all these skunks? Maybe he wants me to make a big, stinky skunk fur coat. Maybe he wants me to go to church with my big stinky fur coat and wake some of these sinners UP, munequita.”
He laughs – a big open mouth - and his gold teeth flash.
“You know what? Individuality is another word for loneliness. Do you know what one individual can do when there’s a fire or a catastrophe, when there’s a bunch of assholes beating their wives, when there is an epidemic? Nada, mijita. Don’t be dumb. Use your head. Is that what they teach you up in there in CAL-EE-FOR-NIA? You got it real bad for them, don’t you? I bet you even want those blue eyes. You don’t even know how it feels to want anything different, anything better, huh? That’s how they do it. They never let you get the taste for it, and then when the possibility of something good comes along you think it smells like shit.. like skunk. You can’t even stomach it.”
My mom was the one who wanted blue eyes. She told me that when she was a little girl that she would pray every night for blue eyes. And every morning she’d wake up with the same brown ones. I don’t wish for blue eyes, but I wish for other things.
Don Chingon translates the words I grew up hearing and believing in.
Anyone can grow up to be president: no they fucken can’t
Self-made man: liar
Fate is the purview of the gods, Don Chingon said. Mexicans know it, and gringos don’t.
“Yo creo que at one point there were a few viejos who knew they were lying, but then they died and their sons didn’t understand the fairytale. They encourage you to step away from your blood. Without your blood, without your roots, you’re lost. No language but the one they give you. No way to see how your face looks like your mother’s, so you’re likelier to look at those magazine ads and think ‘that’s what’s beautiful.’ No menudo, just grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches are mostly bread. Bread’s never filled anybody up. What the fuck you gonna do with a grilled cheese sandwich, ‘manita? You can’t understand why your face looks that certain way when you’re upset, or why your pinky toe is all twisted, or why your hair waves right in the place where it does. It’s easier to create homogeneity that way. Everyone wants it the way they want it though. Don’t fool yourself into thinking any place is a paradise because that’s when they’ve got you. You want to believe, and that’s all they need. That’s all they need, uvecita.”
ABOUT THE BOOK
I release a new chapter a week on Thursdays - unless I'm exceedingly overwhelmed or whatever I write is so epically terrible I'm too embarrassed to put it on the internet.