On the door of St. Petronille Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Guadalupe is a common first name in Mexico. In Chicago, I have met both males and females who have this name. My sister’s middle name is Guadalupe. The adult nickname for Guadalupe is Lupe for both genders. Small children are called Lupito or Lupita, depending n their gender.

In Chicago, I knew a male Lupe who hated his name because non-Mexicans had trouble accepting his non-American name. They also mispronounced Lupe as “Loopy.” He hated this. But his name was Guadalupe Gonzalez, so he remained Lupe because he wanted to honor the name his parents had given him. He learned to not only accept his name, but also flaunt it, much to the annoyance of all non-Mexicans within earshot.

When I bought my house in Bridgeport, one of my tenants was named Guadalupe. she was a single mother with three children. As I later learned, only her youngest son was a U.S. citizen. I bought a four-flat because Derby foods was about to close down and move to Sylvester, Georgia. My plan was to rent out three apartments that would pay the mortgage while I was unemployed. All the tenants came with the building. Guadalupe lived in the second floor rear apartment.

Guadalupe spoke hardly any English, but she understood most everything that was said. Her daughters were seven and six years old. Her son César was one. César, coincidentally, was also the name of the previous owner of my house. In fact, I bought my house from him. Well, it turns out that the previous owner was in fact César’s father, but he didn’t even worry about his son’s wellbeing at all. Guadalupe had to go to the welfare office to fill out some paperwork for her son, but she needed a ride and an interpreter. I offered to help her because she was struggling to get by. At the welfare office, I translated the social worker’s questions, which Guadalupe answered. Finally, we get to the question, “Who is César’s father?” Guadalupe has a hard time answering. The social worker turns to me and asks, “Are you César’s father?” “No,” I said. “I’m just her landlord and I was trying to help her.”

One day, she told me she couldn’t pay the rent. She was already about six months behind, but I didn’t have the heart to evict her. Eventually, I told her that I would have to evict her. I just couldn’t afford the mortgage unless all my tenants paid their rent. She was packing up one day when a nun stopped by her apartment to ask for donations. Guadalupe told the nun that she was moving out because she wasn’t working and couldn’t afford the rent. The nun said that her church could help her with the rent and find her a job. The nun talked to me and asked me not to evict Guadalupe and her children. She promised that she would pay all the back rent and find Guadalupe a job.

Well, this was a very agreeable arrangement for all of us. When Guadalupe needed repairs or rooms painted, she would make dinner for me afterwards. She didn’t like that I was always in a hurry to leave, but I was always so busy back then. Once she told me that she wanted her living room painted again even though I had just painted it about three months earlier. I wanted to know why her living room needed to be repainted so soon. She told me that her son had written on the walls with a magic marker and she couldn’t wash the walls clean. I refused to paint again. She told me that if I didn’t paint she would move out. I didn’t paint and she moved out.

I saw her about a year later. she had moved about two blocks away. She wasn’t feeling well. She had another baby a few months earlier and she never fully recovered from the delivery. I asked her if she had gotten married, but she said no. The father of the baby was her present landlord. She was sorry she had moved out from my building. That was the last time I saw her.

Irma Serrano

Irma Serrano at the People’s Theater, Back of the Yards, Chicago, Illinois

I never understood why my mother went to Mexico when Irma Serrano came to Back of the Yards to perform at the People’s Theater. She absolutely loved Irma Serrano. My mother had all her records. My mother saw all her movies. Yet, my mother went to Mexico the summer of 1970 when Irma Serrano came to People’s Theater.

But my mother had a plan! While she was away in Mexico, I would go for my mother to see Irma Serrano in concert! I was only fourteen at the time, so I was a little nervous when my mother explained her plan to me. I would see Irma Serrano in concert and then tell my mother all about the concert when she returned from Mexico. My mother thought her idea was absolutely brilliant. I, on the other hand, had mixed feelings. Because of my mother, I, too, loved Irma Serrano as a singer and an actress. I just couldn’t let my friends know this dirty little secret about me. What if my friends saw me going to the People’s Theater when I went to see Irma Serrano? What would I tell them? What if they wanted to tag along? That was my dilemma of the summer of 1970.

My mother arranged everything. She bought another camera just for the concert because she always took her camera to take pictures in Mexico. I was to take pictures of Irma performing on stage. I was to take pictures of every outfit she wore. She changed a few times during her performance, so I made sure I took pictures of every outfit. I must admit that this was fun, especially since Irma seemed to welcome the additional attention of an adolescent male admirer. My mother also wrote a letter to Irma that I was supposed to hand deliver to Irma Serrano personally. Those were my mother’s orders! My mother wanted me to go backstage after the performance to talk to Irma and take more pictures of her.

Irma Serrano in the dressing room.

“But how am I supposed to go backstage?” I asked my mother. “Just tell them that you’re delivering a letter to Irma Serrano from Carmen Rodriguez! They’ll let you in then!” I was always painfully shy, but now I was truly afraid to follow through with my mother’s plan. She wanted me to meet someone who was really a successful star and really, really famous. I was scared to approach Irma after the show. But I was even more afraid of how my mother would punish me if I didn’t take pictures of Irma and deliver my mother’s letter backstage.

I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the concert! Of course, that was also because none of my friends saw me going to the People’s Theater that afternoon. Luckily, the concert was on a Sunday afternoon when most of my friends spent the day visiting relatives. I recognized every song Irma sang because my mother always played them at home on her 8-track player. The only time I didn’t like listening to my mother’s Mexican music was on Saturday mornings. She played her music starting at sunrise. If I told her to turn it down a little, she would yell at me for being lazy and staying in bed. I would put the pillow over my head and the music didn’t sound so loud that way.

Since I was at the Irma Serrano concert of my own free will, according to my mother (under duress, if you asked me), I attempted to enjoy myself as much as possible. The audience consisted of less than about a hundred people, but they were all really into Irma. Even me! It was a really good concert! And since the audience was so small, it was also very intimate.

After the concert, I was able to get backstage by mentioning my mother’s name. I seriously doubted that would work, but I was amazed that I got to meet Irma Serrano in person. I told her that Carmen Rodriguez had written her a letter and I then handed her the letter. She smiled as she took the letter and said, “So you’re Carmen’s son? She told me about you.” I don’t know if Irma really knew my mother, but she knew how to treat fans appreciatively.  I asked Irma if I could take more pictures of her, and she consented. I was thrilled to be backstage with Irma Serrano all by myself!

So that was my closest encounter with a very famous star!

Señora Independencia

Una verdadera mexicana
Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez as Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez (1768-1829)

I went to see a dramatized reading of Señora Independencia last Friday at the National Museum of Mexican Art. We certainly need more productions in Spanish in Chicago. The play was by the Carlos Theater Productions starring Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez as la señora Independencia. You may remember her as the Guatemalan girl Rosa Xuncax in the 1983 movie El norte. Considering this was only a dramatic reading, I was impressed by the performances of all the actors. I seemed to always focus on the scripts the actors held in their hands and whether or not they read from the scripts. This detracted from enjoyment a little, but very little. The writing was a little dense and heavy-handed. The playwright needed to illustrate with more concrete examples of how Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez contributed to Mexican independence from Spain. I was also bothered by the stage prop of a repeating rifle that was constantly referred to as an escopeta. The characters constantly referred to cartuches or cartridges for the ammo. The sight of the repeating rifle and the mention of cartridges appear to be anachronisms. Perhaps this play is merely in its initials stages and all these details will be resolved.

Another pet peeve I had about the play was how we were admitted to the theater. Above, I have posted my ticket, or rather what’s left of it, as evidence of my attendance of this performance. This used to be a beautiful ticket before it was mutilated. Many people, as they handed over their tickets, asked to keep them as souvenirs. But they were all brutally ripped in half. Some theater goers even shrieked as the ticket was ripped. I, I’m proud to say, was able to control myself, despite feeling my ticket’s pain.

On the plus side, complimentary appetizers and refreshments were served while we waited to be seated in the theater. Yes, I had a couple of glasses of white zinfandel. I had never been to a Carlos Theater Production before, but if they are all like this, I will certainly see more of their productions. If you ever have the opportunity to see this play, by all means go see it! Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez gave a superb performance with the help of her supporting cast.

Dreams: A history

Matehuala, México

I have been dreaming for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I don’t always remember my dreams. Immediately upon waking up, I feel little confused as to which is the real world and which is the dream world. In moments like these, the dream world seems more real than the real world that I had pleasurably avoided while sleeping. As a boy, I used to dream about eating candy or Twinkies. In my dreams, I had every toy I ever wanted. My favorite toy in the first grade was G.I. Joe, but I didn’t have one. Some of my friends had G.I. Joes, so I would play with them at their house. So, at night, I would end up dreaming that I was playing with my very own G.I. Joe. I remember in one dream where I realized that I was about to wake up, but I wanted to take G.I. Joe with me to my waking world so I could play him after school, or whenever I felt like. In my dream, I consciously placed G.I. Joe under my bed before I woke up. I kept reminding myself, while I was dreaming, that when I woke up I would finally have my own G.I. Joe. I really believed I could do it. But, alas, I woke up and I soon as I remembered what I had done in my dream, I looked under my bed. But G.I. Joe was gone. AWOL! I tried it a few more times–unsuccessfully!

Of course, I’ve also had some scary dreams. They seem to have different themes depending on my age. From Kindergarten through about the fourth grade, I used to have dreams about running, but not really get anywhere. Usually, I was being chased by someone from the neighborhood who wanted to beat me up, the Werewolf, Dracula, or some other creature from a horror movie. I almost always woke up before I was ever caught. I would also dream that I was walking to school, and I would be about halfway there, when suddenly, I would realize that I was completely naked. How could this happen in the first place? I’m sure I would notice as I left the house that I had forgotten to put on my clothes. Especially if it was snowing as it did in some of these dreams.

My favorite dreams from that era when I was about ten or eleven involved some of my female classmates. I dreamed the most about a mexicana named Yolanda Gonzalez. I never even thought about Yolanda once while I was awake. I didn’t sit by her and I never went out of my way to talk to her. Then, one night, she walked into my dreams. She was interested in me romantically. Why didn’t I ever see her in that light before? In my dream, I called her, “Querida” just like Gomez called Morticia in The Addams Family. When I woke up, I realized that Yolanda did resemble Morticia somewhat. They both had long black hair and large beautiful eyes. The next time I saw Yolanda, I was absolutely sure that she loved me! She had told me so in my dreams. I sought her out. We would talk when we would “accidently” bump into each other in the playground during lunch. Well, maybe it wasn’t true love, but she did take at least a liking to me because I was paying so much attention to her. After Yolanda was no longer in my life and dreams, I dreamed about other girls whom I never even had considered in my conscious world. I even dated one of the girls of my dreams.

As I grow older and wiser, I now dream about sleeping in late and realizing that I should be at UIC teaching my Spanish class! Sometimes I dream that I teach two classes and then go home. Suddenly, I realize that I left UIC before I taught my third and last class. But by the time I realize this, it’s too late to go back to teach it. Who knows what I’ll dream of when I reach my next stage!

Al’s Beef

Little Italy, Chicago, Illinois

I went to Al’s Beef with my sons today. Why? Because my sons asked me to take them. Why? Well, I was wondering the same thing myself. They heard about Al’s Beef from the Travel Channel, a restaurant TV show, that showcased Al’s Italian Beef. When they first mentioned going to Al’s Beef, I said okay, nonchalantly. They probably thought I wouldn’t take them because I didn’t sound that enthusiastic. They even doubted if I had even ever heard of Al’s Beef. But, nay, I had stories to tell them about Al’s Beef. And told them, I did. Hesitantly. I really thought they would cut me off. But they didn’t. In fact, they kept asking me for more details. This was the longest we had talked in a long time. Luckily, it was about a subject that was near and dear to my heart. Chicago food!

Ah, the memories! I have been going to Al’s Beef since the 1970s, but I couldn’t tell you the exact date. They may be getting a lot of television exposure now, but Al’s Beef is a veritable ghost town in comparison to when I used to go in the 1980s. The place used to be packed, especially in the summer. I remember going there with my friends Jim and Vito. Sometimes I went with my running friends after track practice. We would eat in the parking lot and go across the street to Mario’s Italian Ice for dessert. Then, we’d sit in the parking lot drinking beer! Those were the days.

Al’s Beef is a little different today. It’s the same building. It still has the same charming decor. And, for as long as I can remember, they always have someone working behind the counter who speaks Spanish. It is a universally acknowledged fact that Italian beef tastes better when it’s served by a Spanish speaker. I remember my friend Jim had a crush on a Mexican girl who used to work there. As single men, we often ate at restaurants. But when he discovered this Mexican girl at Al’s Beef, we ate there at least three times a week! I must admit that she was pretty and she had this really cute Mexicana accent. I asked Jim, “If you married her–” “Do you really think I have a chance with her?” he asked me hopefully. “Let me finish! If you married her, would you really enjoy her coming home smelling like Al’s Italian Beef?” He smiled so I could see a sweet pepper stuck in his teeth and said, “That would be like dying and going to heaven!”

La cocina

Enchiladas suizas

In Mexico, I was surprised when my cousin handed me a bag of potatoes and a potato peeler. She actually wanted me to peel potatoes! In the past, whenever I went to Mexico, I was never allowed in the kitchen while the women cooked. So I sat down at the kitchen table and actually peeled potatoes while my cousin and my aunt prepared the New Year’s Eve dinner. Amazingly, there were two other males in the kitchen helping with the cooking. Mexico is changing. I remember when I was a boy and my mother and aunts were making tamales, I got kicked out of the kitchen while they were preparing the tamales. Once my mother made tortillas and she let me roll one tortilla, but then she kicked me out of the kitchen. My abuelita never even let me try to cook anything when she lived with us in Chicago. Now that I think back, most Mexicanas always tried to discourage me from helping in the kitchen. But I think that it’s a conspiracy. Because then when you meet American girls, one of the first things they ask is, “What can you cook?” And if you ever go to their place for dinner, they test your culinary talents by making you help with the dinner. They’ll let you cook the entire meal if you’re able. But if you’re like me and grew up in a traditional Mexican family, you won’t be able to do much more than warm up tortillas! And they’ll settle for you washing the lettuce.

Wow! That was deep!


Con mi prima Bequi en su fiesta de graduación, México DF.

One of the highlights of my trip to Mexico was going to my cousin Becky’s college graduation party! Becky invited me last summer when I visited with my sons, so I planned to go to México for it. She graduated as an engineer in December and from now on she will be addressed by her official title of ingeniera. As part of her curriculum, she had to learn English because it’s an international business language. So when she couldn’t take courses she needed in Spanish because they were closed, she would take them in English. We went to see The Day the Earth Stood Still, El día que se detuvo la Tierra in Spanish, and Becky insisted that we see it in English with Spanish subtitles. In many Mexican theaters you have the option of watching movies dubbed in Spanish or in the original English language with Spanish subtitles. Unlike when I was boy, the movies come out at the same time in Mexico as in the U.S.

This was such a cool graduation party! We went to the Ex-Convento de San Hipólito near the Zócalo in downtown México City. There is a courtyard in the middle of the building, but they put up a temporary roof in case it rained. We arrived at 9:30 pm, even though the party officially started at 9:00, and many graduates and their guests were still arriving. Becky had a table for ten reserved for her. Her parents, my cousin Mara and her husband Enrique, Becky, six of Becky’s friends, and me sat at that table. There was a DJ playing music until the evening program began. A few students gave speeches and each table cheered on their graduate. Click on the link below to hear Becky’s. And, of course, there were Mariachis. Everyone who wanted to drink brought their own liquor. The waiters for our table would then mix our drinks. We had tequila, so the waiter made me a Paloma, tequila with Squirt (Esquirt in México). This custom was something foreign to me. For some strange reason, one of the waiters kept speaking to me in English. The waiters served us our dinner, but I can’t even remember what we ate! After dinner, there was dancing. Everyone danced except me. That is until Mara asked me to dance. My cousin-in-law Enrique commented that I danced like an American because I didn’t raise my hands above my head.

Each graduate was seated at a table for ten, for family and guests. Throughout the night, tables would cheer on their graduate. They would erupt into cheer unexpectedly. Click the link below to hear our table cheering Rebeca proudly.

The party roared all night long. About 6:30 am, the waiters started asking us if we wanted coffee and chilaquiles, fried tortillas with eggs. That was the one thing I loved about the party. We didn’t have to forage for food after the party as we usually do in Chicago. As the evening progressed, the waiters became friendlier with us and talked with us when they weren’t busy. The one who spoke English to me was especially friendly. I told him I could tell he had lived in the U.S. At first he denied it, but then admitted to living and working in Las Vegas for about eight years. But he came back to Mexico because he missed his family. I asked him why he spoke to me in English. He told me that he thought I was Canadian! Go figure!

Well, the party was a lot of fun! When we got home, we immediately went to bed because when we woke up, we were driving to Ixtapa Zihuatanejo!


A couple on a date at the Casa de Frida Kahlo en Coyoacán, México.
La Casa de Frida Kahlo, Coyoacán, México.

While I was in Mexico, I learned a little more about Mexican relationships. I suppose I have my own preconceived American notions about how their relationships are structured. Well, I was surprised to learn about many aspects about their relationships that were previously unknown to me. Yes, there are Mexicans who marry for life, but that’s not always the expectation of every couple. During one of my many dinner conversations with relatives, I mentioned that the divorce rate in America was about 50%. One of my cousins boasted, “Mexico is catching up!” She divorced a couple of years earlier. And getting a divorce in Mexico is now much easier. Only one party has to go to court to request the divorce! A few of my cousins had children out-of-wedlock. That’s not so unusual here in the U.S., but I was surprised to hear that it also occurs more and more frequently in Mexico. One cousin had recently broken up with his wife. So I asked if he was already divorced or just separated. He said that they were never married. She just left the house and he got to keep their two daughters.

One of the strangest things I heard about was commitment in a relationship–or rather a lack of commitment. If a couple stays together for more than one year and then they break up, one party can file a civil lawsuit for monetary damages for not marrying the other. So many people keep track of their anniversary date, not to celebrate it, but to break up just before they can be sued. And the longer they’re together as a couple, the more monetary damages they’re liable for. Because a couple, it’s assumed, is together because they eventually want to get married.

Look ma! No marriage!


Lupita is the nickname for Guadalupe

I only knew her as Lupita. I was very young, perhaps about six years old, when one day she appeared in our lives in the Back of the Yards. She used to take care of us when my parents went to work. She looked like most Mexicanas of that era in the 1960s: long black hair, brown eyes, short, and pleasingly plump. Since I was so young, I’m not even sure how old she was, but I’m pretty sure that she was older than my mother who was in her twenties at the time. She spoke very little English with a heavy Mexican accent, even less than my parents. She was single and had no children of her own. Even though we were children, we always called her Lupita, just plain old Lupita, nothing more formal than that. Now that I think of it, Mexican children were always taught to call an adult woman Señora or Señorita plus her last name. Now I’m wondering why we even called her Lupita, just Lupita. Anyway, I’m not sure how my mother met Lupita, but it may have been at a factory where they both worked. Back then, factory jobs were plentiful, and when someone got tired of doing the same job for too long or they just got tired of their coworkers or bosses, they would just quit and find another factory job almost immediately.

Before Dicky was born, my brother Danny had to go to the doctor at Cook County Hospital a lot because he had osteoporosis in his right arm. My parents would take Danny and my younger brother Tato (Diego) to the hospital and Lupita would take me to her house on the bus. She lived about two miles north of us which seemed like a long, adventurous trek to me back then. We would take the Ashland Avenue bus (Number 9, I think). Many of the buses were still electric then and there were overhead wires to provide the electricity. Many parts of Ashland Avenue were still paved by cobblestones. I would take my train set that I received for my birthday or Christmas–I don’t remember which. At her house, Lupita would clean her house and when she was done she would read novelas, which were books that were printed in sepia-colored ink that told soap-opera-like stories, but looked like comic books. I would play with my train set that entertained me for hours at a time! It consisted of a locomotive, two boxcars, a caboose, and a small circular track. Most children my age would have been bored by it, but not me! The train set also came with some small wooden barrels that I would put under the tracks to create a “hill.” I could while away the hours just by positioning these barrels in every possible position! When I had accomplished that, I liked to experiment with the sequence of the locomotive and boxcars and caboose. I was so easily amused back then! Oh, wait a minute! I haven’t changed all that much since then. I’m still easily amused!

Well, when my brother Danny was better and no longer had to go to the hospital, Lupita would babysit us at our apartment after school. She genuinely enjoyed being with us. My brothers and I would play well together, but she would get nervous when we wrestled. We loved to wrestle. Since I was the oldest and biggest brother, I always won. The last match would involve Danny, Tato, and Dicky wrestling against me. I always won! I would pile them up, one on top of the other, and then pin them down for the count. Lupita was so afraid that we would hurt each other that she would stop us from wrestling. She always stopped us from having too much fun. Like the time we were throwing my mother’s records out the back window like frisbees. Or the time we used my grandfather’s encyclopedia from Mexico to build a fortress wall. I told Lupita that my mother always let us use the encyclopedia to build a fortress, but she didn’t believe me and made us put the tomes back on the shelf.

She never talked much, but she always sat in the living room with us. If we went to our bedroom and we were too quiet for too long, she would come to see what we were doing. Once, my brothers and I were in the bedroom just reading comic books, but she made us go into the living room with her. She didn’t trust us. And with good reason! We once gave her a really good scare. We were reading comic books in our room and she didn’t check up on us. When we read comic books, we became our favorite comic-book heroes. I was Spiderman, Danny was the Silver Surfer, Tato was the Torch, and Dicky was Batman. Well, once, Dicky felt the power of Batman coursing through his veins and he dove headfirst into the air shouting, “I’m Batman!” However, he didn’t fly very far. His head hit the dresser drawer handle, which had pointed ends, and he had a huge gash from his forehead to the back of his head. Dicky screamed from the pain and we just stood there silently not knowing what to do. Lupita came running to the bedroom and she almost fainted when she saw Dicky bleeding from his forehead. She picked him up, carried him to the sofa, and stopped the bleeding by putting a warm, wet towel on his head. My parents came home shortly after that and took him to the hospital where they closed the gash with twenty-seven stitches. Lupita stayed to watch Danny, Tato, and me while my parents and Dicky went to the hospital. We just sat there quietly in the living room with Lupita until they came back from the hospital.

I don’t remember the last time we saw Lupita. She was always a part of our family, but suddenly one day she just wasn’t there anymore.



Irma was a Mexicana who lived on my block when I was about ten. We lived at 4405 S. Wood Street in Back of the Yards and she lived two houses south of us, upstairs from my friend Carlos Mojaro. She was about six years older than me, but everyone in the neighborhood knew her. She was very pretty and friendly. She always had a boyfriend, but never for very long.

Of course, then all the rumors started about her reputation, if you know what I mean. Even when she wasn’t home, some guy would come looking for her. Sometimes they weren’t even from the neighborhood. Irma’s mother–I never did learn her name because everyone simply called her Irma’s mother–would always look out her second-floor apartment window and shout for them to go away and stay away from her daughter! There was no element of mystery here.

Everyone knew that Irma’s mother was also very friendly with the men in the neighborhood, but only more so than her daughter. She was a single mother raising a son, whom was rarely seen coming or going home, and a daughter. The whole family was very popular with everyone in the neighborhood except for all the neighbors who lived within a half-block of them. They also had a dog–no one knew her name, but we always referred to her as Irma’s mother’s dog–that would often escape from the apartment and wander the neighborhood, occasionally biting children who wanted to pet it. Their dog also developed a reputation of being overly friendly with the other dogs in the neighborhood, but somehow never had any puppies. One day as I was walking our dog Duke, he approached Irma’s mother’s dog out of curiosity and she tried to bite Duke, but Duke ducked and bit her first. Irma’s mother looked out her window and yelled at me. I tried to explain that her dog tried to bite mine first, but Irma’s mother just started swearing at me. There was no talking to her.

One day, I saw Irma go into her house with her boyfriend. I could hear her lock the door as I sat on the porch with my friend Carlos. A few hours later, her mother came home and Irma wouldn’t let her in. Her mother started to swear at Irma as she looked out the window down at her mother. She kept saying, “You better let me in right now!” But Irma went inside and closed the windows even though it was hot outside. By then a crowd had started to gather. Irma’s mother kept shouting, “I’m gonna call the police on your boyfriend!” Then one of the women neighbors started arguing with Irma’s mother because of her dog that had gone into the neighbor’s yard. Irma’s mother asked for a reprieve from the argument because her daughter was in the house with some guy and she couldn’t get in. I was sitting on my bike out in front watching the scene. There were well over fifty people watching.

Then, the woman tells Irma’s mother, “I’m not surprised your daughter’s in there with some guy!” “What do you mean?” asked Irma’s mother. “You daughter’s a whore!” Irma’s mother just laughed. “You’re a whore, too!” We were all expecting for a physical fight to break out, but nothing. Irma’s mother just laughed that off, too. Finally, the woman says, “I’ve seen your dog fucking all the other dogs in the neighborhood! Even your dog’s a whore!”

This was just too, too much for Irma’s mother to take. She grabbed the woman’s hair and said, “You can call me a whore and you can call my daughter a whore, but don’t you ever talk about my dog!” Then Irma’s mother scratched the woman’s face. By then the police arrived and broke up the fight. The two police officers wanted to know what the fight was about and Irma’s mother said that the woman had called her dog a whore. She looked at the police believing that she was justified in attacking the woman.

Eventually, the police said that they came because a girl was locked in the apartment by her boyfriend. They went up to the front door and kicked it open. Both officers went upstairs. Everyone watching was excited because it had been a while since the police had been to their house. Well, Irma’s boyfriend ran out the back door and came out to the front of the house. He saw me on my bike and said, “You have to give me a ride!” Actually, he was much bigger than me, so he rode the bike and I sat on the handlebars. He rode a block away and took off running. I never saw him again.

When I rode back to Irma’s house, the police were out in front talking to Irma and her mother. I don’t know what happened after that because by then my mother came outside and made me go in the house.