Friday, August 20, 2010

La Gordita del Perro

Hello. My name is Lucia TuVenEstaEsLaGorditadelPerro Torres. I'm the youngest of 11 siblings, raised in a low-monetary income home with a high-love income family. My parents are migrants from Zacatecas, Mexico. Like the migrant ancestors before them, they traveled through their natural territories to find sustenance and survival for their tribe. We ended up settling in Pacoima, a low income suburb in the east San Fernando Valley that is still slowly giving birth to its own cultural history. My parents brought with them their family, their love, their stories and their traditions. 

When I was a kid, snacking on rolled up tortillas and playing with Barbie dolls, I was given what I thought was the most horrid, daunting and traumatic of all nicknames a kid could ever have. When my parents had company, they'd call us all over and present us in the order they could remember... Maurilio, the oldest... Ana, the middle... Salvador, one of the youngest... and me... La Gordita del Perro.  

So I'd sigh, shuffle over and shake hands. Angry little thoughts racing through my head "what the hell ama? Why the hell would you call me that?!"

Now, I've met many people with those "ironic" nicknames ... a 6 foot "Shorty," a "Fea" with ridiculous symmetry and the "gordo" that wrapped his belt around his waist twice. 
Me though, this little brown-faced kid.... was a really, really fat kid. My mom would snip slits in my sleeves so that my chorizo arms could squeeze through. On Sundays I'd be dressed in ruffles and lace and rolled to church, braids swirling like little propellers... tututututut...

So when my mom would say "esta es la Gordita del Perro." I'd bow my head in shame, and take it. Damn. Was it so bad that I was a really fat kid? One that only a dog could love? Images of me in my denim jumper and bare feet sitting outside by the family mutt while everyone ate their mole in a warm kitchen crept into my dreams. 

Dang mom, that's cold. 

At some point, I became so frustrated by this introduction that I stormed my chunky butt into the kitchen where my mom was making dinner and said "Why do you call me that!? Why do you call me fat in front of everybody?! I know I'm fat!" My mom lovingly called me a tonta and proceeded to explain. 

Gorditas del perro meant, of course, last of the batch. The last gordita, as in the delicious little cake we would stuff into our mouths on our road trips to the motherland, that a family would lovingly feed the dog who sat ever so patiently waiting for one to fall to the floor. I was the grand finale.


So she laughed at me, called me tonta again and told me to take out the trash. I passed our hairy little dog, Sheena (yes, as in Sheena Easton... more on this to come, I promise) and smiled knowing that I would never have to sit outside with her while the family ate mole. 

Mom doesn't call me "Gordita del Perro" anymore, but "tonta" seems to be an irreplaceable noun in her vocabulary.