It was funny, because back home I was barely a Mexican at all. In the barrio, just getting bussed across town to the magnet school was enough reason to be labeled un guero. And if they called me anything, they called me un coco—brown on the outside but white underneath.
I looked a little closer, it was the same mother from the candle, Eleggua, with the same dark crooked eyes. And I thought to myself, “Oh good they match,” and I took it back to Claire who seemed satisfied. The inside smelled like the water dripping out of an air conditioner. It why are swimsuits so revealing wasn’t a big place, but there were too many banks of fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling so it was brighter inside than out even at three in the afternoon. Shelves ran down one side, a glass counter down the other. It was so much more colorful than I would have thought.
We were probably a hundred yards away, but we were close enough for me to see—here were the Mexicans, and not like me either, or even my parents. Real Mexicans, from Mexico Mexicans, probably bussed straight in to do this work. I want to tell this one like a good Mexican, so I’m going to start off right, with the end right up front, so that when the good part gets here you know when to laugh or to cry. So mira, this is the one about the time that my grandma told me that I didn’t smell like a Mexican. All the social works were but a few drops of water in a desert.
Some things, you just need to find out for yourself. “Then, maybe just three or four times,” she said, straight-faced. The vendor promised this drink would provide “seven times for sex!” All photos by Ada Kulesza. He was annoyed when I saw him in Brussels with a gun in his hand. I have a gun in my hand and a lifetime of unfortunate reflexes.