Monday, October 2, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For


Growing up as a mixed-race individual is not easy. In case you didn’t know, I am the product of a Hispanic/White relationship. But, since my mother divorced by bio-dad when I was still a baby and he disappeared from our lives, I was raised in a very heavily Mexican-American household.

I’m sure the half-black-half-white combo comes with its own challenges. And, although I can’t directly relate, I can relate to the identity struggle in general.

Being a very white-looking girl in a Mexican family where everyone else is creamy-coffee-colored was not fun. At a young age, I was nicknamed Güera (roughly translated: pale-pasty-ass-white-girl) which made my whiteness stand out even more among the brown contingency. And, although I wasn't alone because my brother is as friggen white-looking as I am, he was generally accepted by everyone as Hispanic and wasn’t nicknamed anything racist that pointed him out as an outcast with pale skin.

In my younger years, I found myself always trying to be accepted as a Latina.  Sometimes I was accepted, but not always. Sometimes, I just “wasn’t Hispanic enough.” And, on the flip side, I was also never “white enough” when trying to identify with white folks.  Basically, I lived in a sort of cultural identity purgatory.



However, as I matured, it became less important as I built my own self-worth without trying to pigeon hole myself into any individual racial identity.

Wow. That sounded fancier than it actually is. Sometimes I amaze myself at how enlightened I think I am.

Anyway, my point here is that just when I thought I was comfortable in my own skin and that my races don’t define who I am, I met someone who thought I was the Mexican-est person she had ever met.

My mother-in-law. (God rest her soul.)

Except, she wasn't nice about it. Nor, was she ever politically correct. And, she thought Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Hondurans, Guatemalans (etc) were all MEXICANS, too.

Me: Uhm, Mom. You KNOW those are different countries, right? Mexico is a COUNTRY... and so is Honduras. Also, Puerto Ricans are essentially AMERICAN. 
MIL: Who cares! You know what I mean! 
Me: No. No, I do not. 

She had two favorite things she liked to do to torture me. First she liked to collect Spanish "literature" so that she had something "nice" to give me every time she saw me. And, by literature, I mean junk mail, coupons she picked up on a rack at the grocery store, and religious pamphlets left by solicitors. I'd show up for a visit and she'd excuse herself to go grab the "mexican shit" she had collected for me since my last visit.

Me: I don't want any of this shit. 
MIL: But, it's in Spanish. 
Me: Sooo...?  
MIL: So.. don't you buy all these things? My neighbor says all the Mexicans use this seasoning, and the coupon is for $0.50 off! Don't your people like discounts? And, here..what about this...? 
Me: I have never even heard of any of this crap. And, I'm especially NOT going to read this evangelical bullshit!  
MIL: Well, not all Mexicans are Catholic! 
Me: WHAT? What does that even mean!?

And so the conversations would generally go haywire because in her mind all that shit was jumbled up. And, it was probably hard to squeeze all the dumb, racist shit out in an orderly fashion. I get that, I guess. Because, I'm a poster child for going off on tangents.

I think that mostly, I was a fun novelty - like a freak show circus act. She probably loved telling all her old crotchety friends that her son is such a maverick for marrying a Mexican! She probably even had them all collecting those stupid Spanish newspapers for me, too!

But, what did I do when she gave me all that shit to read? I bitched about it, then I gathered it all up and acted like I was going to take it home and read it. Why? Because I was raised to graciously accept stupid ass shit people give me so as not to be rude.

I'd carry that shit all the way home in my car. I'd even walk it into the house before throwing it in the garbage.

Because I'm a decent person that way.

And, although I considered it, I never set in on fire in the sink while chanting voodoo curses. Not even once. I swear.

Me: Hubber, the shit your mom says could get her shot one day. 
Hubber: Yeah, you're probably right. But, what do you do? 
Me: Uhm. YOU could tell her that she's racist and rude! And, that if it were anyone but me, she'da prolly been slapped by now! 
Hubber: She's old. She thinks it's ok to say whatever the hell she wants without repercussions.  
Me: I think you're an enabler. 
Hubber: Word to the wise: Your voodoo shit ain't got nothing on her.

😕

Anyway. I said there were two things she liked to do to torture me and test my patience. The other thing is this: She liked to make me talk to "mexican-looking people" in Spanish for her. EVEN IF THEY SPOKE ENGLISH.

Yeah.

Once, she called me while I was at work.

Me: Hi. What's up?
MIL: You need to talk to this guy.
Me: What guy? 
MIL: The Mexican who does my yard. Tell him I'm not paying him shit unless he puts the yard clippings IN the trash can instead of just leaving them there at the curb. 
Me: Geez. Ok.
Yard Guy: Hello. Yes, I heard her.
Me: You speak English? 
Yard Guy: Yes. I put bag in trash can. No problem. 
Me: Ok, thank you so much. I'm sorry about that. 
Yard Guy: Is ok, ma'am. 
MIL: Did you tell him? 
Me: Uhm, seriously? HE. SPEAKS. ENGLISH. I didn't have to tell him anything. He heard and understood every word you said. 
MIL: I just heard him speaking to you in Mexican! 
Me: WHAT? You mean SPANISH. But, NO. That was English! He just has an accent. 
MIL: Bullshit. I didn't understand a word. 
Me: I gotta go. I'm at work.

Another time she did that was when the City was widening her road. In her professional opinion, the job was taking entirely too long and the Mexicans were to blame. So, she called me up, walked her ass out there in her moo-moo with a cigarette dangling from her mouth... me on the phone in one hand and hell-raising fury in the other!

We were going to tell those Mexicans to hurry up and get her fucking street done or there would be hell to pay because BY GOSH, her daughter-in-law knows the mayor AND she speaks Spanish, mother fuckers!!

All I said when the guy got on the phone was, "Sorry! She's kinda crazy. But the quicker you get the job done, the sooner you get her off your back. That should be incentive enough."

I'm not saying my threat was successful, but they DID wrap that shit up the following week and she gave me all the credit for it. Pretty sure she thought I called the mayor.

So, yeah. She definitely kept things interesting in her own fucked-up way. I'm not gonna lie, I was mad at her most days. But now, I kinda miss her.

I guess the moral of the story is: be careful what you wish for. Turns out, being Mexican is highly overrated. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Phone Calls That Don't End in Fiery Deaths

How old do my children have to be for me to actually feel HAPPY to see an unexpected incoming call from them light up my phone? 

Because to date, when I see that it’s one of my spawn ringing in, I have to get my mind right before answering the call. First, I blink 5 times, slowly. I breathe in… I breathe out. I stretch my neck to the left. I stretch my neck to the right.

I consider all the possible reasons the spawn would choose to CALL rather than TEXT (which is the norm).  A phone call gives me no time to devise my reply to whatever ridiculous non-urgent problem she is currently having that can’t be resolved via text.

Then, I close my eyes and tilt my head up to the sky…hoping that powers greater than me will take mercy on my ragged soul and make the fucking phone stop ringing. By this time, it usually does stop. And I pray that they’ll just leave me a message. And, I start to believe that God really does give a shit about me.

Then, the follow-up-call ringing commences. No message. Just more goddamned ringing. 
In the span of 3 seconds, I start to fear the worst.

Maybe my child has been kidnapped by a murderous bandito and is calling from the trunk of a 1985 Ford Ltd with no way to kick the taillights out and wave her hand through the hole to flag down help from concerned passersby! And the 9 and 1 buttons on her phone don't work!

OR… My child was just in a car accident and is trapped inside the car which is only seconds from exploding into smithereens!

OR… There’s an active shooter at the school!

OR… My child has been car jacked and left stranded in the middle of nowhere with wolves (NOT of the Huge Jackman variety) salivating near her while her phone is about to die and this is the last call she will ever make before she’s torn to shreds!

Fire, blood, and gory death flash before my eyes and I start to hyperventilate.

So, frantically, I answer the phone, cursing myself for being such a fucking selfish, crappy excuse for a mother. My child is obviously in mortal danger! What the fuck is wrong with me!?
Me: Hello? Are you ok? 
Tallest Spawn: cry/screaming and blowing out my eardrum: Moooom! Why aren’t you answering your phone? I’m like freaking out over here! 
Me: Uhm! I just answered! What in the world is wrong?! 
Tallest Spawn: sobbing uncontrollably:  My car won’t start! I’m freaking out! Oh my god! What do I do?!  
Me: Really? You’re crying uncontrollably about your car not starting? 
Tallest Spawn: YES! Mom! You don’t understand! I’m like freaking out over here! 
Me: Obviously. Where are you? Are you safe? 
Tallest Spawn: Well, I had to like go to Walgreen’s. So, like I went in to buy stuff, and when I got back in my car, it was fine! So, I drove to the gas station to put gas in it for the week. I put the gas in, but then I like tried to start it, but it like won’t even start or anything! I’ve been trying like for 10 minutes or maybe longer! 
Me: So, you’re safe. Did you call your Dad?
Meanwhile, Hubber is standing in the doorway shaking his head and rolling his eyes and I am motioning for him to grab his fucking phone and deal with this shit! Ya’ll know I don’t deal well with car problems.
Tallest Spawn: hic-crying now: I don’t know if I’m safe, Mom! There’s a sketchy guy here that keeps staring at me! I’m so scared, Mom! Like, what do I do?! Dad won’t answer his phone, either! Why don’t ya’ll ever answer your phones?! 
Me: First of all, calm your tits. If there’s a sketchy guy there, then go into the store. 
Tallest Spawn: And just leave my car here?? 
Me: Yeah! It’s at the damn pump, right?! It ain’t going anywhere if it won’t start! I’ll send your dad over there to help.

So, naturally, Hubber starts asking 21 questions…  did she do this... did she do that… what kind of noise did it make… did she put the right key in the hole… etc. etc. 
Me:
This is the point at which I normally lose my shit. First of all, none of the disturbing near-death scenarios are playing out like my brain told me they would. Second of all, CAR DRAMA. Thirdly, WTF?!

I think Hubber could sense that I was about to grab a knife and stab a mofo if he didn’t quickly get his ass (and every other living being in my vicinity) the fuck out.

While he was gone, I had an adult beverage to calm my nerves. When he got back, I hesitantly listened to how shit went down at the gas station.

Hubber pulled up behind our helpless little spawn’s car at the gas station. She sprinted out from the store to meet him.
Hubber: Where’s the sketchy guy? 
Tallest Spawn: pointing: Over there, Daddy! See him? 
Hubber: The guy changing the bags out of the trash cans?! 
Tallest Spawn: Is that what he’s doing? 
Hubber: YES! He fucking works here! 
Tallest Spawn: Oh. My bad. But, Daddy! He kept like staring at me! 
Hubber: He’s probably wondering why you’re bawling your eyes out over here like a crazy person! 
Tallest Spawn: I’m sorry!!! But, I didn’t know what to do!! 
Hubber: Did you check that you used the right key? Did you check the battery like I showed you? If so, remember that Insurance app I told you to download onto your phone? It has roadside assistance! Why is your first reaction to always freak out and drive your mom to drink?! 
Tallest Spawn:
Hubber: Give me your keys.
Hubber got in the car, put the key in the ignition. And would you know it…the fucking car started right up!
Tallest Spawn: 

 Hubber:

Tallest Spawn: Daddy! I swear it wouldn’t start!!  Why don’t you believe me!? You never believe me! Why do you hate me?! I hate my life!  Why does this stuff always happen to ME?!
Etc. Etc.

My point here is that usually, when the phone RINGS and the call is coming from one of my children, it is usually NOT a fucking emergency. It’s usually some bullshit crap story that makes my right eye twitch, my fists clench, and my brain scream. 9 times out of 10, this is how shit goes down:

For instance, let’s consider this text:


How is THAT “kind of urgent”? C’mon, man! I’m AT WORK. Go talk to the gas station people! Or, call the bank! I don’t fucking know! But I do know that I ain’t gonna be able to solve this urgent issue for you! You are a grown ass woman! 

That being said, though… I do appreciate her decision to give me a heads-up text rather than repeated, frantic, and aneurysm-inducing phone calls where I have no clue what the fuck is happening. I hate going in blind, ya’ll! Momma needs prep time.

Another plus is that she "also just texted dad"! That pretty much means I'm off the hook entirely. 

Have fun, Hubber!