Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category
No… that’s not the title of a new TBS sitcom premiering this upcoming fall season. My mom’s mom… my “abuelita”… sat me down on her knee one day a long, long time ago and told me of a particular time when she placed a little round piece of “brownness” in her mouth thinking it was a piece of candy.
My grandma was a great woman who birthed quite the brood of 12 kids; my mom being the youngest girl. I have a couple of distinctive memories of her:
One was the time she took me to Catholic Church. She was your typical God-fearing church going elder. I recall the orchestrated sit, stand, sit, kneel, sit, curtsy, sit, limbo, and finally the lying down and making of snow angel shenanigans… pretty much cementing my dislike and pointlessness of worship, mass, and religion.
The other memory I recall was “very funny” to my grandma (her words) as she re-told it to me. I looked on with great excitement and wonder! She was cleaning her living room carpet and picking up odds and ends from the floor when she came upon a little brown ball of “something” resembling a chocolate ball treat.
Was it a Milk Dud?
Could it be a Raisinet?
Perhaps a Goober?
All were positively viable assumptions.
She said to me, “I didn’t know what it was… it looked like a little ball of chocolate so I put it in my mouth.” I leaned forward and gazed in amazement at this and asked, “What did it taste like?” And she said, “It tasted like caca (poop)!”
She laughed and laughed at this… and thinking back now, I don’t know if she ever relayed this story to anyone else. You know, sometimes you have to tell someone something just to get it out of your system and maybe this was the time for this particular story. Maybe I was the chosen beneficiary of this grand “nugget” of a tale!
I was very young at the time but even then it struck me as an oddity to be hearing of such mindless doings. I mean, who would pick up something *resembling* a delectable delicacy from the floor and simply pop it in their mouth… no further critique needed… really?
How about looking closely at it or feeling the texture or maybe even smelling it? Nope, my granny’s decision was to put it straight into her mouth and enjoy what was to come… wow! …a taste explosion no one *ever* needs to experience.
Very funny, indeed.
- Cooking with Grandma: Abuelita’s Recipe for Sopa de Arroz (blogher.com)
- WASHINGTON, USA: Savoring Time with Aging Parents (worldmomsblog.com)
- My Abuelita (chicagonow.com)
- Fingerpainting!…..with poop (momblognetwork.com)
When I was 6 years old, my brother Daniel (who was 9 at the time) accidentally died. When I think back about my childhood and specifically my introduction into the life of excruciating shyness and my embarrassing involvement in “The Great Clown Incident of ‘69”, I also think and wonder to what extent the emotional strain my brother’s death had on me. I’m not saying it’s something I think about all the time or fault these events in my life for what I’ve become. It’s just the opposite; I rarely if ever think or talk about these episodes.
Its bizarre having more of a memory of the pain of standing in a room full of kids and being the only one dressed in a Halloween costume than that of losing a brother. My brother’s death left as much of an emotional wound as such an event could; but being so young (as shallow and callous as it sounds) the actual internal ache I felt – fully clad inappropriately as a circus performer – hurt more than the emotional catharsis I must have released after my brother was taken.
I was about the same age at the time of both happenings: late October for the Halloween clown affair, and on or around July 4th of the following year when I witnessed my brother’s misfortune. I pin-point it around that time since the accident was partly due to the celebratory nature of the holiday.
There were 5 of us playing with fireworks in my father’s lumber yard. My dad’s side of the family owns a large city block of land in Ensenada, Mexico which includes a corner store, the main house, 3 apartments, and the large lumber yard.
This being the lovely third world country of Mexico… “un-safe” & “un-sane” fireworks run rampant and were sold on every dirt street corner at the time as I’m sure they still are. I can also recall them being passed out with every third taco sold at the local taqueria. Really… it’s true. I read it in a blog somewhere.
My 2 older brothers, accompanied by our 2 cousins, (all of us within 4 years of age from each other) were lighting fire crackers in an open area of the lumber yard. We were having a good old honest to goodness unsupervised fun time like all kids should have been doing and *were* doing in the 70’s.
Unfortunately my brother Daniel decided to drop a lit firecracker into the open spout of a large metal trash-can like container full of highly flammable paint. The ensuing explosion rung my ears like a sonic boom and shook the ground with the intensity and force of an 8.0 earthquake. The top lid of the giant can was later found over a block away.
I have a very selective memory and only hold specific past recollections. I’m sure I could hold more, but by my preference I retain or choose to hold on to very little.
But, even to this day, I clearly remember at 6 yrs old turning around after the explosion and seeing my 9 yr old brother on fire running and screaming out of a giant 50 ft mushroom cloud of flames. From that point I’m pretty sure I was in deep shock as I again do not recall much. My older brother was far enough away and was unhurt. The younger of my cousins was also spared but the older one sustained deep scaring burns on one of his legs.
Daniel took the brunt of the fiery blow and had burns covering most of his body. I have a basic recollection of some or all of us rolling him around on the dirt trying to extinguish the flames as best we could.
You hear of people dying quickly and unexpectedly and you hope to go this way, too (a long way down the road obviously). This was quite the opposite. My brother held on for about a month enduring ice baths, painful bandage changes and cleanings, and excruciating pain that I don’t know of any adult let alone a child could ever endure. Until finally… his 9 yr old mutilated body and soul could no longer take the suffering.
Here are my only memories of my brother Daniel after this tragic accident:
- That knowing burn smell and charred sight of his green sweater after it was cut and peeled off his smoldering torso. You would recognize and know the smell if you cut a tiny piece of your hair and placed it over an open flame… now multiply that odor by 100.
- His 3rd grade elementary school picture with the same green sweater on; his short light brown hair and innocent childlike smile intact.
- The horrific screams from down the hall of the burn ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital. I knew they came from Daniel because I was told of the ice baths he was being put through for whatever God awful reason. This *was* the 70’s but to think that form of treatment could have ever helped… I don’t know.
- And finally, hearing the dreaded phone ring in my parent’s bedroom that fateful night. This time the screams I heard from down the hall were from my mom as she was told her little boy was no longer alive. Losing complete control; showing and releasing the feelings only a mother could; her cries confirmed a piece of her was now forever gone and lost.
I don’t remember the funeral and I don’t remember ever talking about the situation with anyone. I don’t remember a whole lot about my childhood life afterwards except for tiny bits of memories that regrettably don’t include my brother Daniel.
There were 4 of us kids in my family back then: My oldest brother (Pelon); next came Daniel (Nenito); then my sister (Bebita); and finally me (Bebito).
Let me tell you something about Mexican families – no matter what your given name is, guaranteed, you will be called by another name. My older brother was nicknamed “Pelon” for a lack of hair when he was born. My brother Daniel was labeled with “Nenito” or “Nenny” because my older brother couldn’t pronounce Danny. Or maybe it sounded like “Nenny” coming from the mouths of my Spanish-speaking parents. My sister was “Bebita” because she was the youngest girl and I was “Bebito” because I was the youngest boy.
Not long after my brother’s passing my parents decided to have another child. I say *have* instead of *try* because, come on, we’re Mexican and having babies is as easy as going down to your local super market and plucking one right off the shelf. (Just look for the aisle marker that reads: Baby food, Diapers, & Infants. You’ll also notice the condom aisle is all the way at the opposite end of the store.) Lets be real – I just have to *look* at my wife and she gets pregnant. “Shooting blanks” is a non-existent expression in the Mexican culture.
No longer the “Bebito” of the family, my younger brother came along (Pachie – nickname of course) and replaced me as the youngest child. No doubt his arrival was a planned immense help in filling a void my mom must have felt.
My family doesn’t speak about what happened back then. To this day I’ve never spoken to any of my family members about what took place and I don’t think I ever will, or at least I won’t be the one who brings it up. It’s an unfortunate happening that we’ve kept to ourselves.
I know in writing this, it’s a form of therapy… but actually speaking of such things? I have no interest in retrieving painful memories in the physical sense. That’s just me…
I think of Daniel from time to time and wonder… what if?
Here are some pics my wife and I took of the 3 matches we watched – Francesca Schiavone beating Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-3, Stanislas Wawrinka beating Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, and Austria’s Jurgen Melzer rallied to beat Julien Benneteau, of France, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. There’s no wonder this tournament is the most popular outside of the Majors. You get to see both women and men compete at a top of the line facility with great weather to boot!
…we’ll be back next year for sure!
The room is white; the room is empty… empty, all except for Rudy. Rudy rests his head on the palm of his hand, sits, and patiently waits. For what, you ask? Guess. If you’re interested, and 9 out of 10 people are, you can probably guess. Me? I’m *supposed* to know, silly.
Rudy is a 3 horned, purple headed, wooly creature of immense weight and circumference. Strands of rainbow colored locks sway from his melon and girthy middle – left and right, slowly and smoothly, like the gentle meander of an eel in search of prey.
There are no windows open, there are no windows. The ceiling fan is off, in fact, the moment I notice it… it’s gone. I don’t feel a draft; no goose-bumps on me. Rudy’s tufts of hair are alive on their own and react to me.
A wall of hot air envelopes the room. (Sniff… Sniff… ) Did someone just pass wind? Well, Rudy did… but, that’s just Rudy.
I purposely walk over to Rudy, right eyebrow raised. I lean to the left, squint, and try to peek around. Nope, I’m incapable of seeing around. I take two steps and tilt my head to the right… eyes straining to ponder the mammoth arc. One beat… two beats… three. Deep breathe in… blow out. I reject the idea of being able to see my way around Rudy. Nah, I don’t get it. Plus I don’t believe it’s possible *to* get it.
There’s no obvious way to get my head around Rudy – nothing simple, anyway. Maybe a group effort – the teamwork of friends and family to help get around? Nope, I reject that idea. I don’t want help; it has to be me and me alone. Hmm…
Rudy looks to be attentive and tolerant, but his stare begins to wander… sometimes at me, sometimes not. With the innocent, simple far-off look of a retarded child who just wants to eat or play, Rudy starts to fidget. The extensive flowing curls distract Rudy for a second then the squirming begins again. Does Rudy need to go poop? I don’t believe so… I have faith in that.
What troubles me is simple – I can get from point A to point B. It’s short, uncomplicated… makes sense. But, tell me that it’s possible to get from point A to point 37, yet there is no undeniable proof? I will totally reject, well… Rudy. That’s *my* assurance.
I’m a thoughtful, caring, literal person but when trials and tribulations lead me to consider and scrutinize Rudy… I wonder why? It makes no sense to me. Rubbish, I say! I need honest, black and white facts.
Perplexed (but in a good way), I reach up and examine what remains of my hair. Scratching and rubbing my head alerts Rudy to do the same. Hey Rudy, I used to have hair like you. But, now, I don’t miss it. I don’t even remember it.
There is in fact an elephant in the room.
I entered a “Morbid Little Stories” contest in June held by Amanda Palmer’s Team Chaos THESHADOWBOX.net site. All who entered patiently awaited the results. Well, the leaders that be decided to forgo the final outcome due to time restraints, priorities, disinterest; all poor excuses. So, entrants will be posting their submissions on the contest link above; here was mine…
She always liked it rough; she told me that. I didn’t know what to think… the bruises on her arms shocked me at first, but the alcohol made it easier to explore deeper. Terri came from a broken home… a broken life. “I play a lot of sports in school.” she said, “They come with the territory.” But, I knew different. I found out different.
She would be home soon. A taxi below honked and sped away. I always loved the view from here – how the sun sets to the northeast, the shadows on the buildings, the sounds, the smells. Day after week after year; has it been a year already?
She came home with me. I pulled her into the entryway; our bodies crashed as we kissed and grabbed. I held her arms above her head and took another look…”They don’t hurt, really.” she said. I ran my hands down her breasts, her waist, her thighs; her dress slipped off easily as I pulled it over her head… I stared. There were more. Big and small, purple, blue and black; I wondered why I wasn’t surprised anymore or scared… of her… of what I was about to get myself into.
Brandon came out on his balcony below us. “Dude, what’s up?” he said as he pointed a beer bottle my way. “Hey, not much… making some dinner, winding down, you know.” I said as I turned and glanced down at the body. “You guys should come over – I’m making pasta and the wine’s already flowing.” I said as I pointed my glass back down to him. “Cool, I’ll call Heather; I haven’t started anything here so that works for me! I’ll call you later, thanks Bro.” He walked back inside his place as I looked down again at the pale, wretched body.
I picked a large bruise on her thigh and kissed it gently. I lifted her up, slamming her body with mine. We fucked hard against the wall. We kissed; we licked; we bit. I was in a daze and blamed it on the alcohol, but I knew what I was doing. What we would get into.
I turned and saw the bus pull away; she was coming. I drank the last of the wine and closed my eyes. I counted the steps it would take her to reach the front door of the building, the elevator, the hallway to our flat. I knew the instance the key would enter the lock. The door opened; her usual zig-zag across the room: shoes off at the door, purse down on the counter, keys in the bowl on the end table.
“Hi Honey” I said as she reached me; she sank into my chest. I placed my hands on either side of her head and kissed her one last time. Her eyes found the body on the balcony floor. My grip held firm as I said, “Amanda Palmer… meet Terri Jones” I lowered my hands to her neck and squeezed, “Terri… meet Amanda.”
In what seemed like the slowest of motions, I entered through the opened Kindergarten classroom door. My encouraged eyes scanned the room for a compatriot, a cohort if you will; someone to share in the deep pain and humiliation, the hot anguish my little 5 yr old body was feeling. The comfort and kinship of equally costumed pip-squeaks was not to be… yes, my mom had dressed me in a Halloween clown costume and all the other kids were dressed as… well, kids.
On or around Halloween 1969, my mom decided to dress me for Kindergarten in a very cute home-made orange, red, and brown clown costume (complete with hat and red nose). Dressed like a little Mexican Clarabell the Clown, off we walked the block and a half to school.
Somehow the well-intentioned memo from the Romper Room TV program failed to make it to Creeland Elementary School in Pico Rivera, CA. On this particular day, the early morning Romper Room television show celebrated the occasion with costumed kids, games, candy, and all sorts of Halloween fun. I, on the other hand, was now alone in my own little personal torment – a clown without a parade, a clown in search of a big top, a sad pint-sized velvet painting model.
The stares from my classmates ranged from blank, amusement, confusion, and even hate. I soon knew my world, my existence, my child-like newness would never be the same.
How could my mom have assumed my classmates would be all dressed up that day you ask? Simple, because it was on TV! I mean, there it was earlier that morning, playing for the entire world to see; a similar (pretend) classroom was all dressed up as ghosts and cowboys and ballerinas.
At the time, my mom possessed a naïveté that only a middle-class non-English-speaking happy homemaker could. If only a notice from school… a sign on the classroom door… a mention from the English speaking teacher; if only something or someone could have planted a seed in her well-meaning, beautiful brunette head. But why complicate good intentions with actual specifics and or concrete facts. With my mom, something was always getting lost in translation.
Back in class, all eyes were on me as I shrunk into my seat for the day. Now, from that moment on, I can honestly only remember two things the rest of the day: At recess, the speed in which I ran and hid away in a playground sewer construction tube. And… the barrage of expletives my no longer innocent little mouth produced accompanied by an evil piercing glare I directed towards my mom as we walked home from school.
In my mind, I let loose curse words that would have made Richard Pryor blush, but in reality, all I could produce was, “How could you send me to school in a costume!?! Nobody was dressed up but me!!!” I was embarrassed and in tears. My mom felt bad because I made her feel bad. I made sure she felt the pain I had gone through. Her completely unintentional destruction of my thriving inner-flame (now distinguished) produced a shyness in me that to this day has been the cause for my misery and suffering in dealing with social situations.
Of course I exaggerate; I was five years old, but I do have very few recollections of any elementary school happenings from that day forward. I remember getting into a fight with a friend named Paul in the third grade; punching him in the face and feeling the crunch of my fist to his cheek. In the fourth grade I remember going to the Vice-Principle’s office to get paddled for who knows what (this was the 70’s and discipline was still handled with the force of a wooden paddle against the pale youthful tushies of pre-teen babes). And, I remember having a girlfriend for a week in the fifth grade. Her name was Christine. We had a loving and then oblivious and finally pained relationship that lasted all of a week and all of 10 words total which included the “I don’t want to go out with you anymore!” breakup.
I still refer to and identify that agonizing episode in Kindergarten as “The Great Clown Incident of ’69”. I don’t know… I’m thinking something left me that day, lost forever… never to be seen again. And I believe the beginnings of the current shield I hold and deflect others away with, was cast and forged a tiny bit then in a way only an impressionable, sensitive five year old could.
I don’t blame my mom in any way for what transpired. I can’t say how that day affected me in the long run. I never really thought about that episode much while growing up. When I first mentioned this story to my wife and love Laura, she laughed and howled and pointed at me like the cruel and heartless whore that she is… oh, wait a minute, that didn’t happen at all. It was a sad, funny story I could offer to add some wholeness and solid depictions of who I was. I knew that when she showed a genuine awe and gave me a tender, caring hug that I had found a good egg. Still, I could hear her muffled laughter as she cupped her mouth and shook in my embrace. Bitch.
Today, our kids are blessed with having taken after my wife; with the confidence and presence to deal with and handle any situation thrown their way.
Hey, my 5 yr old is days away from his first Kindergarten Halloween party. I wonder how he would look in an adorable orange, red, and brown clown costume made with love by his dad?
[Jaden comes running into the room and smacks me over the head with a plastic fire ax.]
”Don’t even think about it, dad! I’m gonna be a fireman… pussy.”