Chapter 27

The three of us, beers in hand, head over to the far side of the barn. We pass a few guys coming the opposite direction and when we turn the corner, there are about six guys peeing against the barn. I really have to go. Those beers are going right through me, and apparently, I’m not the only one.

After we are finished we walk over to the corral and lean against it. In the shade of the big brown barn, it’s not so hot. I don’t think it’s as hot as the tarmac at the airport, or anywhere in town for that matter, but it’s still plenty warm.  “Que pasa con esta party?” I ask, trying to get more information on the reason we can’t get dirty. They both look at me, then at each other, “bien,” they both say together. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

The teens have all gathered around a folding table set up just for them. Their clothes are different from everyone else’s. Basketball jerseys, Low slung, baggy blue jeans with boxers hanging out. Just like all the cool kids back home.

I can hear a radio blasting Mexican rap music. Apparently all the young people smoke around here. They’re standing around . . . no, more like posing, and blowing smoke rings. They are the closest to my age of any group here, but I doubt we have anything in common.

Their dance moves are so MTV. Oh, they stopped . . . Now they continue to smoke their cigarettes in bad-ass poses . . . Now they’re dancing again . . . Now they’re just smoking. This must be the new break-dancing. You dance for a few seconds, then take a break. They seem to be living from one Kodak moment to the next.

Jose and Herminio are watching them too. They don’t seem to belong to their clique either. Since we don’t dress the same, we must not be alike. A natural selection kinda thing.

The smaller kids are playing some kind of chasing and shooting game. It seems no matter where you’re from, kids are all the same.

I remember sneaking around at night, playing army or Spiderman, while the grown-ups just sat round doing nothing. Looks like they’re hanging around that pinata like it’s . . .  it’s a candy-filled kid-magnet. Their little faces are trying so hard to avoid it, but it’s so obvious the focal point of the whole party for them is that shiny, cone studded ball, filled with sugary hope. Forget uncle white-guy, this is the important thing. Being a kid was great. I wonder what they’re waiting for. Is there some kind of bell that goes off and starts the thing or what? How do pinata’s work anyway, besides just whacking them? What are the rules?

A couple of the boys are playing a new game. One of them points his fingers like a gun and says, “Manos Arriba,” and the kids who don’t have an imaginary gun stick their hands up in the air. Then the kid with the gun shoots them and they all fall down. Now it’s another kid’s turn. Same thing, “Manos Arriba,” hands go up, he shoots them too. I guess Mexicans don’t believe in taking prisoners.

Everyone else seems to swarm here and there, forming small groups and then breaking off one by one to venture out and talk with someone else, or refresh their sangria, or get a cold beer from the barrel. I notice all the cans say Tecate. I guess only Americans drink Corona.

What am I doing at this party?  I am the only white person here. I can’t imagine feeling more foreign, and this is supposed to be my family.  It’s hard to believe I am related to all these Mexicans. I mean look at them. They are nothing like me. They don’t dress like me, they don’t talk like me, they don’t . . . well, they’re just not like me. How can I be related to these people?

I see a lady in tight-fitting clothes. Her boobs busting out of her shirt. She must be thirty-something and about forty pounds overweight. I smile and give Herminio an elbow in the ribs. “Herminio, mirror. La seniorita of your dreams.” I nod in the direction of the woman. Jose starts laughing and Herminio pushes him almost to the ground. “You like chi-chi’s right?”

“Calla te!” he whispers. The woman looks our way and we all look away, pretending we’re not really laughing through our noses.

“Hola.” An aunt and uncle crept up on us and scared both Jose and I. They are trying to tell me something. I wish they knew I don’t know very much Spanish. I understand about every tenth word if they talk slowly and loudly—ha! Something about my father is wapo. I guess they are saying I look like him, or act like him, but I don’t know for sure. I’ll just sit here and smile and nod. My Uncle breaks out some old disco moves . . . “Oh, my father was a good dancer? Great.” The differences just keep piling up.


Oh good, here comes Joselyn to the rescue. She must have seen that Duh look on my face. “Hi Tia Josie”

“Hola, Pancho. Your Tio Ernesto was saying how he like your father, and they have competitions to see who run to the barn first, or pick the most oranges.”

The Uncle spits out some more machine-gun Spanish.

“He says he paint the barn with your father and race to see who can paint more. Papa got mad at them for spill the paint. They make a mess big. Papa make them do it again, good.”

Every time Tio Ernesto speaks, It sounds like he is saying the same thing. I don’t know how Josie can make out the difference in what he is saying.

“They learn nothing is faster than to do the job good. He miss Armando very much.”

Her translating, is getting more than one odd look. I have the feeling that even being white, they still expect me to speak Spanish.

“Do not worry about them, Pancho. They are like that. They are from when Alberta Sala marry with Ricardo Gomez. They are family, but they don’t have the blood.”

I nod. She didn’t even have to turn around and she knew what I was both looking at and thinking.

“Marriage is how families are made, but when you have a person famous in your family, the blood is important.”

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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