Before I even get started with this week’s particular contribution to the literary world, let me begin by saying that I mean absolutely no offense to any of our friends who have come to this great country seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
I know many have come great distances to be here and many have used their last plug nickel to get across the border. I hope that whatever it is you expect to gain out of being here happens for you in the most blessed of ways.
Now for my story.
The Kid is currently enrolled in a school where about 98 percent of the kids are of Hispanic origin. It’s great because he has mandatory Spanish class every day for a half hour.
The school year started off on a rocky note because of it being a new school, not knowing anyone, not being familiar with what the kids in the school are doing or are into and just the general malaise about school all together.
Now that the tummy aches and nervous jitters seem to have settled down, The Kid is making his way around his classes and has a few kids there that he can refer to as “friends.” There is Jose, Armando, Aldo, Enrique and Burke. Yes, Burke is another white boy. You know it’s not a Latino child cause what Mexican mamacita in her right mind would name her child ‘Burke’? It’s as white a name as you can get outside of “Walter,” “Harry” and “Bubba.”
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been waiting every day to see what new adventures The Kid has had at school.
I ask him who he eats lunch with, who he plays with at recess, does he have any one friend that he feels particularly in “sync” with , and so far,
it’s just Burke. He likes all the other kids just fine, but as he said, “I am getting used to how they treat each other. It’s kinda weird. Like they are all family and stuff.”
So as not remain an outcast, he has been observing what they wear to school and is trying to kind of fit in without looking like it.
Now his shorts have to come “below the knee” instead of just sitting “on the knee.”
We have to stop at 7-11 and pick up these bags of chips called “Takis,” which look like rolled Doritos. They are quite spicy. Takis seem to be the snack rage at the moment.
“Would you like to try menudo?” I ask.
“I don’t think so ... what is it?” he asks, with a stark look of concern on his face.
“Ahhh ... menudo. The classic Mexican soup. Or stew.”
I show him a photo of menudo on the Internet.
“OK. That looks gross. I don’t think I want to try it.”
“Oh, it’s really fun to eat. Especially when you scoop up a piece of tripe!”
“Is that fish?”
“Oh no, tripe is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. Like pigs feet and hog jowls.”
“Gross. What is it?”
“It is ‘edible offal from a farm animal’s stomach.’ Different parts of the stomach from cows, pigs, sheep ... lots of cultures use it. Italians, the
French, Croatians, Indians, the list is endless.”
He shook his head.
“Why would anyone want to eat that?”
I shrugged and said, “Most people believe in using whatever parts you can to stretch what you’ve got.”
“Man. I feel sorry for my friends if that is what they are getting at home.”
I laughed and explained they were probably used to it.
“Well, that certainly explains one thing,” he said with a smirk.
“Now I know why they wait around like vultures when I open my lunchbox!”
I laughed and asked what it is in his lunch that they like so much.
“Jeez, Mom, all of it! I can barely get out a cheese stick or my drink before stuff starts disappearing! If it’s not the cup of applesauce, it’s the sandwich or the crackers or the pretzels or the cookies or the brownie or the peaches...”.
“Do you get to eat any of it?”
“Yeah. Usually whatever piece of fruit is in there and my drink.”
I told him it was extremely important that he tell them to knock it off, because he has to eat his lunch.
“Tell them they are welcome to what you don’t want, but you have to eat first.”
It gave me an idea for a new business venture.
A pushcart called “The Kid’s Lunchbox.” I would simply carry all the things The Kid has in his.
And I’d have a little sign on the front that says, “No Menudo” with a circle and bar through it.
I plan to retire in style...