Skip to main content

Sunday en Segundo

Sunny spring Sundays always brought the people out of their red brick apartments. The rows of doorways popped open and screen doors kept the flies out. Opened windows let in the fresh breeze and sunlight. The neighborhood knew to take advantage of it because there were only a few days like this in El Paso’s spring before the winds came.

            El Freddy walked down 3rd Street toward Stanton.  He’d just left from La Bowie where he ate a warm empanada. He’d passed on the cafecito even though he thought it always made the piña of the empanda taste sweeter, but it was too warm for café.

            As he walked, he passed some vatos who were riding around the barrio on their tricked out chrome blinding bikes. El Freddy nodded as he passed them and he heard their laughter as one of them hit the curb and almost wiped out. El Freddy didn’t laugh but just smiled. In the alley, he heard the sounds of chavitos as they kicked a worn soccer ball shirtless and barefoot up and down toward makeshift goal posts. He liked the sounds of his gente as he made his way to his compa Beto’s house. Cumbias spilled out of the windows and mingled with the vatos and chavitos laughter. La Señora Lupe was sweeping the sidewalk in front of her door and she nodded at him as he passed. Her eyes were steely and even though El Freddy hadn’t done anything wrong his gaze moved down toward his feet.

            Esa Señora era bruja, he thought and walked faster.

            El Freddy found Beto outside, like everyone else, sitting in his dark green Oldsmobile wiping down the dashboard with Armor All.  He wiped around a black sticker with white letters that said “Raza is Love”. Beto’s ruca had stuck it there one evening after they’d smoked because she thought it was beautiful.  He heard the easy notes of Malo’s Suavecito flowing out of the car.

            Laaaa-ah-ah, la-la, laaaa-ah-ah
Laaaa-ah-ah, la-la, laaaa-ah-ah

            That’s what today was. Suavectio. El Freddy leaned against the side of the car and shot the shit while Beto made sure the inside of his ride gleamed so bright it hurt the eyes of anyone walking by.

Suavecito, mi linda
The feelin’ I have inside for you
Suavecito, mi linda

They checked out the chavas as they walked by and laughed when the girls rolled their eyes at them. They were laughing so hard that El Freddy almost missed her. A mamacita he’d seen around a few times but never talked to was getting out of an old Buick across the street. He stared as she bent at the waist, arms against the window frame, to talk to the driver. Her tight bell bottoms hugged all her curves and he couldn’t stop staring at the jean clad corazoncito facing him.

            “Ay,” he said to Beto and jutted his chin in her direction.

            Beto turned to look, shook his hand fingers flapping freely and said, “Esa ruca, man. Tiene un culo,” then bit his lip.

            As she straightened up, she turned to look behind her and saw El Freddy and Beto staring. El Freddy froze, lips parted, but no sound came out. She smiled at him, flipped her dark hair, and disappeared toward the corner tienda. The Buick roared off.

            Never, I never meet a girl like you in my life
            I never, no, no yeah
            I never meet a girl like you in my life

            “Andale,” Beto said toward the store.
            El Freddy looked at Beto, smoothed his hands on his faded Levi’s, and nodded.   


Popular posts from this blog

Dear People Who Hate Us

Last night, I spent the evening laughing and talking with a group of women writers I'm proud to call friends. At the table, our conversation bounced around in English and Spanish about books and shows and general gossip. As we laughed, the music, a combination of cumbias and current pop Spanish hits, at times drowned us out, so we talked louder. We ate our nachos, enchiladas, and chimichanga. I felt safe. I got to forget just for a moment about the rest of the world. As soon as I got home, my phone overflowed with notification of the president's latest blunder. The warmth I had just felt faded just a little. The reality of the hatred many feel for people of color burst my bubble. I feel the weight of it on my body. I feel it chipping away at my usual hopeful demeanor.

I want to say,

'Dear People who Hate Us, 

What have we done to you? Where did you learn to hate so hard? What have I done to you? Do you even know my family has probably been here longer than yours? Do you kno…

No, I Didn't Mean Turns, I Meant Tiendas

I've been thinking a lot about being bilingual lately. In June, my sister-in-law visited, and at the beginning of the visit I tried to speak mostly Spanish, later it was more Spanglishy-English because I was tired. My brain got tired, and also, I'm going to be honest, I got lazy. For those of you reading this who are bilingual(ish), you know what I'm talking about. I'm grateful that my husband lets me be lazy. (Also, it's hard to talk to someone in a different language if you're used to speaking in another. Try it. It's weird.)

I have a friend who is Puerto Rican, and I while I envy the ease in with he seamlessly switches back and forth between the two, accent free, I doubt my discipline in practicing enough to get there. I want to. I really want to. I promise, but it's like going to the gym or eating better, everyone is always better in the beginning. 

Last week, my editor and friend in chief sent me a text with a translation project suggestion. I didn&#…

Listas de Colombia

Number of hours spent traveling: 20
Days spent in Colombia: 29
Cazuela de frijoles comidas: 2
Tres Cordillera cervezas tomadas: 15
Shots of aguardiente shots I turned away: 6
Shots of aguardiente I couldn't turn away: 4
Veces que usé tenso equivocado en español: unknown
Ceviches I ate: 6
Days at the beach: 4
Micheladas: 10
Showers taken: 58
Sunblock application: 10
Usos de la palabra chevre: 5
People asked why I was a brown gringa: 4
Times I was offended by this: 0
Times people thought I was Colombian until I spoke: unknown
Apologies made on behalf of United States for Donald Trump: 1
Explanation of the El Paso/Juarez border: 5
Uso de la frase, "ese man": 20
Photos taken: 88
Veces que escuchú salsa: infinito
Ramen from Formosa restaurant eaten: 3
Max number of hours of speaking only Spanish before mouth and brain hurt: 4
New tattoo: 1
Book read: 1
Books started and left unfinished: 1
Reruns of CSI: Miami watched on AXN: 20
Ubers rides: 15
Chicharonnes eaten: 12
Jaras de …