Let’s play a game. I’ll post three statements and you determine whether they’re fact or crap.
1. When I was 6 years old, I got beaned in the head with an eight ball after getting caught in the crossfire of an impromptu billiards ball fight between my brother and his friend.
2. When I was 4 years old, I was having a grand old time jumping on my mom’s bed with Danny until he bumped into me. I fell and hit my head against the corner of the dresser. I had to get a few stitches for the cut on my head.
3. I broke my wrist while roller skating when I was 12 years old.
Benny: Man, you think too much! I bet you get straight A’s and shit!
Smalls: No, I got a B once. Well, actually it was an A minus but it should have been a B.
Benny: Man, this is baseball, you gotta stop thinking! Just have fun. If you were having fun, you would have caught that ball!
(from The Sandlot, 1993)
I got a lot of A’s as a kid. A lot. I was, like, a genius. Gifted even. (/snark)
After hearing my classmates brag about their monetary awards for good grades ($20 an A, $10 a B and so on), I was rather annoyed. All I got for my good grades was encouragement and praise. Who wants that?
When I was 11-years old I found the courage to bring this up to mom and dad. I offhandedly suggested that they get in line with other Glenelder Elementary parents. Mom laughed. She must have done the math in her head and realized she’d be paying out over $100 each quarter just for my grades.
“No, mija,” dad replied.
Then he started with the lecture. Oh no. When we got to a certain age, we no longer were spanked. We were lectured. That was worse. While a spanking only affected the wrongdoer and was over in a few minutes, the lecture often involved all siblings and lasted half an hour. Whenever Danny got in trouble or decided to talk back, I’d have to sit through that lecture too. The time paled in comparison to the guilt. Dad was good at making us realize how much we’d disappointed him and mom. I still dread those lectures. Actually, dad didn’t lecture this time. He told a story with a lesson (close enough).
When I found the above photo of my dad, he joked that he was trying to look like Rigo Tovar. I saw something else: proof that my affinity for huge sunglasses and other weird eyewear is genetic or at the very least a learned behavior. I was born/socialized to like glasses that cover most of my face.
Now maybe Oso will stop threatening to hide my sunglasses. Hater.
I pay little attention to baseball during the off season. Of course, I followed the news on whether or not the Dodgers would re-sign Manny and I had a few conversations about Alex Rodriguez’s confession about using steroids when he played for the Texas Rangers. (Rodriguez was my favorite player from ’96 until he signed with Texas in 2001. After that, I stopped paying attention to his career, but still kept up a pennant from his days with the Seattle Mariners.)
These days, I’m following the World Baseball Classic and hoping Mexico advances out of pool play. Oh yeah… who knew anyone actually played baseball in the Netherlands?
Mamá Toni repeats the story every time there’s pan dulce on the table.
“El pan para la noche,” she says imitating me and giggles. “No te recuerdas?”
I shake my head no. All I remember of my trip to El Cargadero that summer was the excitement of being on a plane without my parents, running around the large plaza in front of Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s house playing games with the neighborhood kids, and getting hooked on Rosa Salvaje. I must have blocked out my love for pan dulce and the result.
When Danny and I returned from El Cargadero, I had gained weight. Again, I don’t remember this, but my mom and Mamá Toni insist that El Cargadero was the turning point. I was no longer average. From ’88 on I was chubby/chunky/fat/whatever/insert your own euphemism.
While I don’t remember the result of my trip to Zacatecas, I do remember my First Communion the next spring. I wore the white custom-made dress I wore as a flower girl for my Tía Nellie’s wedding just a few weeks earlier. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, mom talked to Mrs. Millan, my Brownie troop leader. Mrs. Millan complained about finding a dress for her small and skinny daughter. Mom told her she had the opposite problem, but was lucky I had the flower girl dress. I was embarrassed and felt like hiding.