Archive for May, 2007

The Big & Nasty about my Mamacusa

Querida Mamacusa,

Being that it’s Mother’s Day and all, I feel I should say a few words. Words of thanks. Praise. Adulation. But first, of forgiveness. It’s taken me a long time to arrive at this station in life, but arrive I have. And I’m ready now, [deep breath] to forgive you for a couple of things…

First and foremost, I forgive you for my general appearance between the ages of 8 and 12 and SPECIFICALLY for that outfit in which you let me repeatedly leave the house (to go Out In Public, might I add) in the 4th grade. Don’t look at me like that. [Shrilly:] You know full well which outfit I’m talking about:

The aqua colored tie-dyed Minnie Mouse t-shirt
Which I used to wear OVER the white long-sleeved turtle neck shirt
Paired with the matronly knee-length floral print denim skirt
And my white, high-top Reebok sneakers
Accessorized with those three pairs of assorted colored tube socks that I used to wear AT THE SAME TIME…like nightmarishly partitioned leg warmers.

That monstrosity of an outfit is the sole reason I “won” the title of Most Likely To Become A Fashion Designer at the end of the school year. Surely Mr. Bergdorf, on his break in the teacher’s lounge with all of his colleagues, had a hearty laugh at my expense when deciding the award categories and their respective “winners.” Poor, blissfully unaware me. I was all WATCH OUT, Donatella Versace! When really I should have been like: Watch out, Members Only!

Anyway, I was too young to be humiliated then. But let me tell you, I woke up one afternoon Freshman year of college in a post-tequila haze with visions of tie-dye, floral print denim, and Reeboks…and almost needed counseling for the whole debacle. Almost. And though I will never understand it, I forgive you.

Secondly, I forgive you for chaperoning my middle school dances. I understand now that you were doing it out of concern and love. Out of concern that I might sneak off to make out under the bleachers with Chad from Sex Ed (because, naturally, who wouldn’t be in the mood with MC Hammer as the accompaniment?) and come home “knocked out” (your version of the more widely used expression “knocked up”). And out of love…not for me but for shakin’ it like a salt shaker out on the dance floor. My only consolation from the embarrassment of having my mom accompany me to my school dances was that you at least refrained from doing the lambada with any of my teachers and administrators. But only because I put my foot down.

Thirdly, I also forgive you for the fact that I can no longer step foot into a McDonald’s. You may not remember this, because your forgetfulness at times approaches the level which is needed to hide your own Easter eggs, but about 10 years ago, we went to a McDonald’s. You’d forgotten your glasses, and you were holding up the line while squinting up at the menu choices. Just in time to spare us the spite of the hungry masses accruing in line behind us, finally and triumphantly, you declared your selection: “I’ll have the Big and Nasty please.” The 16 year old behind the counter looked at you with disgust upon your lurid request…and no amount of reassurance (that what you really meant to order was the Big and Tasty) could have convinced her or the police officers that were called to the scene.1 For fear of being apprehended as the family member of an unregistered sex offender, I have never stepped foot in a McDonald’s since.2 Which has been difficult. Sometimes the fries call to me at night. But I forgive you nonetheless.

Considering the career we’ve all made of humiliating each other in this family, I could go on. But, instead, I will move along to my words of thanks.


Thanks for surrendering your youth to marriage and motherhood. You married my father when you were 16 and, while I question your mental health at the time (wouldn’t you have rather been sneaking out, sipping beer that one of your friends stole from their dad, getting groped by an entirely forgettable pimply-faced boy?), I thank you for your job well done. Now, because if it, we’re very much like sisters. Which affords me the opportunity to relate to you as such in everyday conversation. For instance, when you say wistful things to me on my birthday like: “Ahhh, I remember when I was 29,” I can say: “Yeah. So do I. I was 10. And in my opinion, you wore entirely too much make-up and, Jesus, THAT AFRO OF YOURS!!”

Thanks for tolerating the teenage years of eye rolling and sighing and Oh My God Ma, You So Totally Don’t Have a Clue what Cool is. Duh. As I read through my recently uncovered anthology of adolescent diaries, I can only imagine how much fun I was. And indeed, I’m sure I will be equally tortured should I have daughters in the future. I’m sure the planets and the stars (and the semen) will align to make that happen. It’s only fair.

Thanks for being the kind of mom that makes family the number one priority. (Well, let’s be honest, after chocolate chip icecream.3) It really did make me proud to be related to you when you dropped everything to fly to Florida to take care of Abuelita for the last three months of her life. No one in the galaxy could have taken better care of her and I’m thankful that you were able, willing and happy to do it. I hope that someday, I can do the same for you. By finding a very lovely nursing home that has a communal café con leche and “I Love Lucy” hour in their recreation room.4 I promise I’ll visit.

In all seriousness, I love you. I love you despite your strange predilection for napkins with logos on them, despite the fact that you hog all the chocolate chip icecream, despite the fact that you are incapable of orchestrating surprises, despite your ability to screw up just about every cliché that exists in the English language…and despite the fact that, for a brief period after you and Dad divorced, you gave me a few gray hairs.

You certainly threw me for a bit of a loop when you decided to get remarried…and only 8 months after meeting The Love Muscle on that fateful plane ride. If I hadn’t known you’d had a hysterectomy, I would have thought you were knocked out up. But in all fairness, for as skeptical as I was at the wedding, I’m now convinced that The Love Muscle is not only the best possible person you could have sat next to on that plane (especially considering that on my plane trips, I usually get sandwiched between a Chatty Cathy with nothing but elbows and a corpulent guy with an anus more outspoken than Chatty Cathy’s oral orifice) but also the best thing that could have ever happened to you period. He’s great. He makes you happy, he calms the Cuban in you, brings out the Rational in you, and he makes a mean burrito with your leftover pernil. I could ask for nothing more. We’ll keep him.

And we’ll keep you. Thanks for being such a great mom. The older I get, the more I appreciate exactly how much a mother gives of herself not only to bring children into this world, but also to raise them in such a way that doesn’t mandate years of expensive time spent on a couch speaking to a paid professional about it all. Toughest job in the world, I’d have to say…and you made it look easy. So, bravo you. (You can hog all the ice cream you like!) Even though we don’t live in the same city, I know that, should I ever need you, you’d be here in a second. (You should know that I’d do the same for you.) This simple fact is one of the greatest comforts of my life. So thanks. A lot.

Te quiero muchisimo,
Feliz Día de las Madres,
La Cubana Gringa

1. The actual involvement of the police may be a slight exaggeration.
2. As might be this.
3. This, however, is entirely factual.
4. Obviously a joke. Clearly, there needs to be dominoes as well.



The madness featured here is mine and mine alone. It does not, in any way, reflect the madness of my employers, colleagues, patients, nutty family, or my colorful friends. The privacy of my employers, colleagues, patients, nutty family and colorful friends is sacred & deeply respected, so no names. All words Copyright © la cubana gringa, no method, just madness 2006-2010. All comments © their authors. Don't steal; it's not nice. (And my Grandfather knows people.)

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