Friday, May 11, 2012

Red Ruffles

Do you know how I remember you most? 
That day, when we went outside the church's hospitality room to play hide-and-seek, instead of staying inside for choir practice.
Ha. We got in so much trouble for that...
I remember that most because you were wearing this... red lace dress... red ruffles everywhere. Remember that?
God, yes! I hated that dress!

I possess this trait... most of the time I find it to be detrimental to my... emotional well-being.
Regardless of how often, or how adamantly I tell myself not to cave to this tendency... I do it anyway.
I believe everyone is... inherently good.
After all the bullshit I've put up with... after all the pain others have inflicted upon me-- at my core-- I still think there's a bit of good in everyone.
How fucked up is that shit?

Don't get me wrong, there are CLEARLY very evil people out there-- horrible people who let the bad overpower and smite whatever kindness existed in their heart...
... but at some point... in their youth, they were good.
Something... or someone just came along and fucked it all up.

I think this is called empathy?
I have a shitton of that.
I warn myself against being too empathetic, and I try my damn hardest to be cautious around others... but I just can't.
If you tell me you're good, I'll believe you're good. If you're a dick to me, I'll believe you're a dick because someone made you that way... and that person was made that way by someone in their past... and so on. Just a vicious chain of unfortunate events.
Now, this doesn't mean once people fuck me over I don't cry or feel like shit... I sure as fuck do, mainly because my subconscious shit-talks and gives me that "I TOLD YOU SO!" speech... but it allows for me to at some point forgive (which I often don't do QUICKLY, but I do, eventually, move on).

Recently, I've been thinking A LOT about an ex of mine.
I lost track of him some time during my high school years, when I moved to the white side of town. He moved to prison... after killing someone.

I met him in third grade, when we were all hyper little dweebs.
I was already fucked up... but trying my hardest to getting back to normal.
I'd see this boy, Mario, all the time. He was considered cute, and all the white girls liked him.
I guess I should mention this was when I was getting "assimilated" into English. I was being thrown into all-english classes, with all-english speakers... and no one else around me spoke spanish... shit, no one else had a spanish-sounding name.
I was clearly the black sheep of the herd... and the only reason I'd look over at Mario was because he was the only hispanic-looking kid in his class, the other all-english speaking class, yet he was WAY more popular with his classmates. HE knew how to communicate with his herd.
His popularity did come with a downer: he was popular for being "the bad boy."
He was constantly getting thrown outside of class as punishment.
His class, being directly behind mine, was visible from where I sat. I'd be at my desk and I'd see Mario, sitting on the grass, waiting for his grouchy teacher to finally let him back in class after giving him a stern lecture. Most of the time, he'd listen to her spiel with a smirk plastered across his face.

I'd witness Mario exasperate his teacher at least twice a week... sometimes making eye-contact with him while he was being scolded.
God... how can he stand there and not cry with that crazy lady going to town like that? She damn near slaps him across his smug little face.

Some time during third grade, I went through a phase where I thought I could sing.
Mom signed me up for the church choir, and my now-godmom would take me to practice, since she was in the choir as well.
Lo-and-behold, who else was in the church choir? Mario.
Mario's dad was a guitarist, and he'd bring Mario along to the practices. Mario would sit in the corner of the room, completely annoyed, and he would never sing for Mass.

One day, before practice, after probably two months of staring at each other in school and in choir practice, he intercepted me before I stepped foot in the room.
Mario: Hey! Dad said they're mainly going to work on instruments today. He said I should entertain you outside, since all you do is sing.

Me, being the trusting pendeja I've always been, went ahead and followed him outside.
His younger female cousin was also outside... and we decided we'd kill time by playing hide-and-go seek.
I agreed to play the game even if Mom had dressed me up in the most annoying, itchy, red-lace dress she loved. I had matching red pantyhose and shoes (perfect fucking attire to play hide-and-go-seek... like fucking camo, dude... especially when playing amongst junipers).
We played two games: one where Mario's cousin was it, and the second where Mario was it.
As I crouched on the opposite side of the building form where Mario was counting, my now-godmom found me, scolded me for skipping practice, and dragged me back into the practice room.
I did not see Mario.

The following two years, Mario was my classmate. He also let me in on a little secret:
I like you, AnoMALIE. Will you be my girlfriend? Circle YES or no.
I played hard-to-get... mainly because I didn't find him attractive... even if every girl in SCHOOL was willing to kill for his affection.
I found him to be cool... and a great friend, but he was too much trouble.
His sisters were in gangs... and he'd chill with them... so he was like their little mascot.
Each month he'd get increasingly contentious... mean... dangerous... with everyone, except me.
He was the most gentle, sweet creature to me.
He would drop whatever he was doing to help me out.
He beat my 4th grade tormentors a few times... he also saved me from getting jumped by a couple of 6th graders who hated me for NO REASON.
He was, like his middle name, an Angel.

One day in 5th grade, after much insistence from his behalf, I finally agreed to be his girlfriend-- I circled the "yes."
From that day, he'd shower me with gifts (I still own a pair of green scissors he gave me... I kind of find myself cherishing them... damn near beat my sister one time that she misplaced them), and compliment me every chance he got (the compliment I remember most is "Yeah, well, AnoMALIE is WAY more beautiful than CINDY CRAWFORD! For one, she doesn't have that disgusting mole!" Fucking shit made me blush like crazy as I stood in line at the library).
Boy was wonderful to me, and still, STILL I'd refuse to be any sort of affectionate towards him.
I did call him occasionally.
We had been calling each other since the church choir days.
The call I remember most was one in fourth grade... where we were having a normal conversation and suddenly, I heard his dad screaming at him... and Mario was clearly terrified. He dropped the phone, and I heard it all-- I heard his dad beating him with a belt, and Mario begging for him to stop ("No, Papi, porfavor NO!" No, Daddy, please NO).
I had to hang up the phone and, at school the following day, act as if I did not hear a thing.

Once middle school came around, I had one class with him: english. We were no longer "dating," since summer pretty much implicated we had broken up.
By this point in my life, I was already getting herded into the "nerd" population.
The classmates at the back of class were the few remaining "bad eggs"... and true to form, tried spitting shit into my hair. Mario quickly put an end to that.
I still remember him chastising them the day one of his cronies accidentally threw a spitwad into my hair... day which was, coincidentally, the day following my paternal grandmother's death.
He very gently tapped my shoulder.
AnoMALIE, you have... some paper in the back of your head... may I remove it?
I nearly cried.
My last conversation with Mario occurred on our last day of seventh grade:
I was sitting on the cinderblock fence outside of school, waiting for Mom to pick me up. Mom made it a habit to forget me at school.

Mario had stayed behind the moment he saw I was waiting alone for Mom... on the verge of tears.
Mario: I'm moving back to Arizona.
Me: Really? Sucks.

I had difficulty speaking... a huge knot had been building in my throat with the passage of each minute Mom was late.

Mario: Do you know how I remember you most?
Me: How?
Mario: That day, when we went outside the church's hospitality room to play hide-and-seek, instead of staying inside for choir practice.
Me: Ha. We got in so much trouble for that...
Mario: I remember that most because you were wearing this... red lace dress... red ruffles everywhere. Remember that?
Me: God, yes! I hated that dress!
Mario: I never saw you in a dress again...

Mario had managed to make me laugh.

Me: Can I ask you something?
Mario: Sure...
Me: Is that story true... the one about you peeing in class...
Mario: With that racist, stupid, dumb bitch, Mrs. Wright? Damn right it is!
Me: You peed in class?!
Mario: I was a third grader! I told the bitch I needed to pee, and she laughed in my face! I politely asked for permission, and she said "No! If you really have to pee, do it in your pants, tough guy!" I got desperate. I even started to sweat! I wanted to cry! I remember looking at the trashcan, then at that stupid fat bitch laughing at me... then at the trashcan again. I couldn't hold it... so I just... whipped out my wiener right there and pissed all over the rug!
Me: Oh my God...

We noticed two of Mario's thug friends approaching from a distance.

Mario: I cheated.
Me: Huh?
Mario: When we were playing hide-and-seek. I cheated as I counted to ten.
Me: O... k...
Mario: I counted all the way up to ten, but at "three," I peeked at you. You didn't turn back. I turned my entire body, and watched you in your cute little red dress disappear behind the building... and not ONCE did you turn back. You trusted me to not peek the entire time. I had never seen that before.

Mom's black Jeep was fast approaching. I jumped off the fence and dusted my pants.
Me: Yeah... well... I had no reason to doubt you...
I made eye-contact with Mario and smiled.
Me: Thanks, Mario.

I walked West, toward the Jeep with a quick pace, hoping Mom hadn't seen me associating with the thugs.
Mario joined his two thug friends and walked towards the streetlight... to the East.

1 comment:

Native Minnow said...

Well written. Even bad people have good attributes. I learned that from watching The Wire ;-)