Don Benito

My parents had an unusual way of judging friends. For example, if someone came from the same region in Mexico as my parents or they knew the same people in Mexico as my parents, then they were honorable and trustworthy people. One of their honorable and trustworthy friends was Don Benito. Not only did he come from Celaya, Guanajuato, my father’s birthplace and hometown, but he had also been to Huatusco, Veracruz, my mother’s birthplace and hometown. AND, he knew the same people my parents also knew. I remember meeting him at my house one day when my parents introduced him to me with great pride. His qualifications were his acquaintances in common with my parents and his having been from Celaya and Huatusco. He was a balding man in shabby clothes who probably wouldn’t recognize a bar of soap if he saw one. I couldn’t understand why my parents were so excited about having him as a guest in their home. Well, I forgot about him until I saw him by the park one day. He was drunk and some kids were teasing him. He was helpless against them.

I remember one day I was walking and I found some some false teeth on the ground near some garbage cans and empty beer bottles. I’m not sure why, but I picked them up and brought them home. I showed them to my mother and she took them immediately. “I know whose these are,” she said. Later that day, Don Benito came to our house and was thankful to have his false teeth back. Without even washing them, he immediately put them back into his mouth. My mother gagged while watching him do so. Even I thought it was pretty gross even though I was only about ten years old at the time. I couldn’t understand why they thought Don Benito was someone worthy of their friendship and respect. Sometime after that, I saw Don Benito drunk near the park. I thought I would greet him since my parents thought so highly of him. After I greeted him, he pulled out a knife and said, “Come here so I can cut off your balls!” I got scared and ran home. But I was afraid to tell my parents what had happened. Whenever he came to our house to eat, I would stay in my bedroom. Soon he stopped visiting us. I’m not sure what happened to him, but I do have my suspicions about his demise, none of them honorable.

Years later, when I was married and had my own home and children, some strangers rang my doorbell. They were a Mexican family of six whom I had never met before. They asked me if I was David Rodriguez, the son of Diego Rodriguez. When I said yes, they explained that they knew my father’s family in Celaya and my mother’s family in Huatusco. Then, they all proceeded to hug me. I felt awkward considering the situation that they were still total strangers to me, but I hugged them back. And even though they were total strangers to me, somehow I felt they were trustworthy and honorable friends. So I invited them into my house. They refused politely and then left because they had a lot of other people to visit. I have never seen them since. But I remembered how Don Benito had been valued as a friend just because of his connections to Mexico and his acquaintances in common with my parents. Mexicans! I’ll never understand them!!!

Come here! I won't hurt you.