Cuentos

Offensive interference

Bryan Stow’s beating at the Dodgers’ home opener left me with a lot of angst and sadness. The whole thing kept me up one night and I started thinking of survey questions. I know my experience isn’t generalizable. After all, I call Dodger Stadium one of my happy places. Was I just wearing Dodger blue-colored glasses? Would others’ experiences be radically different?

I’m still unsure. I’m waiting for more response to the survey before I close it and begin analyzing.

In thinking about the atmosphere, I reflected on my own experiences. Dodger Stadium is one of my happy places, but I’m not always happy there. That’s inevitable as I’m going to see my team lose. However, my worst experience had nothing to do with the actual game. In fact, I needed Baseball Almanac to refresh my memory about the game details (SF v. LA, Giants won 1-0).

Rene, Chepe and adrian

In September ’08, I attended the last home game of the season with my brothers, Papá Chepe and six cousins. The cousin/grandpa outing was my cousin Ernie’s idea. He asked Chepe about the last game he attended and found out that it had been years, maybe decades, since he’d been to Chavez Ravine. We bought a dozen tickets in right field on field level. We chose those seats because they were close to the handicap parking and Chepe wouldn’t have to walk much or climb up/down too many stairs. We arranged ourselves in one row with Chepe in middle of his nietos.

The game was slow and scoreless until the 11th inning, but I still witnessed the kind of drama that gets my heart beating fast and makes my palms sweaty.

In the 4th inning a middle-aged Latino, I’ll call him el Veterano, in front of Rene turned around. Being a metiche (busybody) I leaned over across Adrian so I could hear what el Veterano was saying.

“For the past 45 minutes I’ve been sitting here listening to you talk shit in front of my wife and kids. I’m tired of it.”

I wasn’t surprised he was complaining. Earlier in the game, I shushed Adrian and Rene because of their language. I expected someone to turn around and ask, “can you guys watch your language?” They talked a lot too and only quieted down to drink their beers, munch on snacks, and eat Mexican candy.

I knew the guys were at fault, but I was on their side as soon as el Veterano began speaking and said “shit.” I didn’t like his tone nor hypocrisy. I figured he should use FCC approved or “pre-school toy” friendly words if he was going to complain about cursing.

Rene responded with a half apologetic, half surprised look. Adrian remained quiet. I leaned in closer.

El Veterano went on, “And it’s even worse that you sound like a nigger.”

I was shocked. Really? He used that word? In public? To complain about strangers’ language? And next to his wife, teenage son and pre-teen daughter?

I couldn’t help it. I jumped in.

“You’re offended by his language and then you go and use a racial slur?! I can’t believe you’re complaining about our language and saying you’re offended. You’re offending me with that word!”

My face reddened, my hands shook and my blood pressure shot up.

El Veterano shifted in his seat. His wife and kids, who had previously been listening, didn’t dare turn back to look at us.

“I… I’m sorry,” he said. He turned back to face the game and never turned around again.

The guys looked at me, still in shock over what had just happened. Beside me, Chepe sat oblivious as to what had just happened. Danny and Nancy leaned over to be filled in on the chisme. Adrian said, “I knew as soon as he said that you were going to jump in. I’m glad you did.”

Later in the game, Adrian (also a metiche) told me he’d read El Veterano’s pre-teen daughter text message to a friend. It read, “what are you doing, bitch?”

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Boda, Cuentos

Four and a quarter

Now We Can Stop Calling Each Other "Boyfriend" and "Girlfriend"

Last night, Sean asked me to marry him. And I said yes. I know we’re Facebook engaged, but now it’s official.

Sean asked me at my apartment after we had gone out to dinner at my favorite Mexican/Salvadorean place in Palms, Gloria’s. While waiting for our food, I brought up something we talked about last fall. Then he told me that his friend’s friend was planning to propose to his girlfriend as she ran the NY Marathon, her first. I thought it was a dumb idea. So did Sean. We’d talked about proposals before and I’d expressed distaste for public proposals, jumbo screen proposals at Dodger Stadium, and proposals in the middle of a big family event. That may be great for some women, but not for me.

I brought up the marathon proposal again last night. “You know, now that I’ve actually run a marathon, I think a proposal then is an even worse idea. I know how I am, and I know I’d cry. And then I’d get boogers and that would affect my breathing. I’d be mad.”

Sean nodded and re-agreed. We laughed and ate more chips.

When we got home, I took some pictures of some of my marathon stuff and had Sean crouch down to take a picture of my shoes on the floor. It still hurts to squat and sit down. While I had my back turned to him, I got a text message. It was a Twitter update (I get Sean’s tweets via text message).

Getting my attention

I turned around.

He was kneeling.

“The marathon is over… So I’m asking.”

I knew he was serious, but I still asked, “Are you kidding?”

He pulled a small black box out of the pocket of his hoodie. He opened it to show a ring.

He was silent. I started to cry.

“You have to ask me.” I wanted to hear the words.

He choked up a little as he softly uttered, “Will you marry me?”

“Yes.”

He got up, we hugged tightly like we used to at baggage claim after weeks without seeing each other. We call it airport hugs. I sniffed and said something about getting boogers on his hoodie. He didn’t seem to mind.

“You talked to my dad right?”

“Yes.”

We hugged more and then I whispered, “I love you so fucking much.” He kissed me.

Then he let go and got back to the ring, still nestled in its box.

“Oh, let’s try this ring on. Let’s see if four and a quarter fits. It looks small.”

It wouldn’t go past my knuckle. I freaked out momentarily and then realized it was my right hand.

“Wait, this is the wrong finger.”

We tried the left ring finger, it got tight around the knuckle, but it fit.

Surprised!

Of course, I had to make some calls. My mom had actually called during dinner to check up on how I was feeling. I found out soon that my parents knew Sean planned to propose, but didn’t know when. Last week, he enlisted Lori’s help to get my dad alone on Saturday at the party/fundraiser. They were surprised it was so soon. Sean was too. He didn’t know he’d be asking last night, but he had to. The ring was, “burning a hole in his pocket” and he just had to do it.

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Cuentos, Fotos

Mil palabras: The mission

Did I dream it or did someone tell me the story? I can’t remember where the truth ends and the talk begins.
– from Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (p. 20)

When I was a kid, my family went camping on some bluffs overlooking the beaches of Santa Barbara. I can’t remember the name of the campsite or how old I was. I do remember joining up with my tía Susana, her sisters and a couple other families. There were a lot of kids left unattended as our mom’s played la baraja.

On Sunday morning, while everyone was still asleep in their tents, my mom woke us up for Mass at the Santa Barbara Mission. I’m sure we grumbled about having to go to church while on vacation, but we went anyway.

There weren’t many people in Mass that Sunday, it was much emptier than our usual 8 a.m. service at St. John Vianney. I remember thinking it was cool and weird that I was inside one of the same missions we studied in 4th grade.

At least I think I remember this. I stopped by the mission briefly on a recent trip to SB. It didn’t look familiar, nor did I get the feeling I’d visited before. Perhaps my memory is distorted. I know we went camping in SB and went to Mass on Sunday, but maybe it wasn’t at the mission. Maybe I imagined that part.

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Cuentos

Home

Sean’s flight was supposed to be on Monday, December 27th. That morning, he texted me.

“My flight’s been canceled. I scheduled another flight for Thursday.”

I was disappointed, but not surprised. For the past couple of days, I’d been crossing fingers, lighting candles and bajando las ánimas de mi tía Macaria in hopes that Sean would be able to get out of New York despite a blizzard. But the weather didn’t cooperate.

Sean grumbled that he felt like he had been running a marathon only to find out the finish line had been moved. I just accepted it and hoped there would be no issues a few days later.

The next day, most of his boxes arrived via FedEx. I shoved the heaviest in to the closets and joked that he should’ve shipped himself in one of those boxes.

I kept myself busy that week doing work from home (or trying to) and running when it wasn’t raining.

Thursday came and there were issues. Of course there were. Sean’s brother was got caught in traffic and was late to pick him up. Sean would have missed his flight, but it was delayed. That meant he was about to miss his connecting flight, but that one was held. He made it to LAX that evening, 20 minutes after originally planned.

I was there with a sign welcoming him home.

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Cuentos

Presence/presents

My dad woke me up on my birthday. He called and cheerily offered his best wishes. Half awake, I thanked him. I hung up, and stared at the clock on the nightstand, and then at the dying sunflowers beside it.

‘I need to throw those out,’ I thought. Sean had sent the lovely bouquet two weeks earlier with a short “get well” note. The cold didn’t kept me from work and affected my sleep, but didn’t stop me from running. And even though the flowers were dead, the cough was not. I had still woken up a few times that night in a coughing fit. It sucked.

Despite my sleepiness, I knew I couldn’t stay in bed. I needed to get ready to go to Hacienda Heights. I’d made arrangements the night before to take my mom and Lori to get pedicures. After running 90-odd miles, I needed to pamper my feet. I wanted to treat my mom, the one who did the real work 30 years ago (and then raising me too). I knew Lori would appreciate a pedicure in exchange for baking my birthday cake (well brownie).

I got out of bed and took the vase to the kitchen. I washed the vase and still in my pajamas (hot pink mesh shorts and a purple t-shirt) took the dead flowers out to the dumpster behind the apartment building.

It was a nice sunny morning and I relished the feeling of the warm sun on my legs. As I crossed the driveway, I heard the familiar beep of a neighbor remote-locking a car. I turned toward the street and saw a man who bore an uncanny resemblance to Sean walking past the building. He walked the same, carried the same brown satchel, wore the same black flat cap, and dragged along a carry-on sized bag.

I was confused.
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