Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

Parental twinge

On my last flight I was seated next to a little boy, around 10 years old, that was evidently travelling alone (he was escorted to his seat by one of the flight attendants). He was wistfully looking out the window, and after a few minutes he started crying quietly. It wasn’t the annoying, attention-seeking cry of a spoiled little kid, but rather the mournful, dignified crying of a boy that’s old enough to feel shame for crying in public, and yet not old enough to be able to do anything about it. As his big sorrowful eyes welled up with tears, for the first time I felt what can only be described as a parental twinge, this notion that this boy needed taking care of and that I should somehow do just that: I felt this urge to put my arm around him, hold him tight, and tell him everything was going to be all right, or to at least ask him what was wrong.

Of course I did none of those things: the Rafa rooted in reality is as cowardly as he is not destined to be a parent. I glanced at him once in a while, watching him regain his composture, and wanting desperately for him to engage in conversation so I could try to make him feel better. During the flight we did talk a little bit about what he was seeing through the window and about just how many swimming pools people in Orlando have, but after he had calmed down it almost seemed cruel to bring up the subject and ask him why he had been crying. I could not tell if he was sad for someone he was leaving behind, something he was going to have to face after landing, or some deeper sorrow that would have inexorably followed him to the farthest corner of the earth.

After we deplaned, the thing that struck me was that all through the flight, even after he had stopped crying, I never once saw him smile.

A ten-year-old should always be smiling.

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August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Travelling while Puerto Rican

Having flown to and from Puerto Rico this past weekend, it occurs to me that, as air travellers, we Puerto Ricans have several distinguishing features. I shall try to list some of them:

1. Every member of the family needs to come to the airport to say goodbye — if the aisles in a Puerto Rican airport seem crowded, it’s because 90% of the people there are not travellers, but actually their families and extended families: they will accompany the actual travellers to the security checkpoint and stand there watching until the traveller has completely disappeared from view or landed at his or her destination, whichever occurs first

2. Puerto Ricans never travel light. Ever — this whole FAA mandate of allowing only one carry-on luggage and one “personal item” clearly doesn’t apply to Puerto Ricans: we need 4 bags per person, since we’re bringing pasteles and quesitos to no less than five relatives on the mainland

3. Everyone must travel with a baby — presumably since Hispanics are dead-set on taking over the United States one unwanted teenage pregnancy at a time, all Puerto Ricans must travel with at least one crying baby: note that it doesn’t matter if the Puerto Rican in question doesn’t even have a baby: it’s a little known fact that 90% of kidnappings in the country are a direct result of baby-less Puerto Ricans with an upcoming flight

4. The right time to board the plane is now — it doesn’t matter whether the airline is trying to board the plane by row numbers, or more quaintly, by group numbers: Puerto Ricans will stand up as soon as they start announcing the boarding process and will try (repeatedly if necessary) to board the plane regardless of the section currently being boarded (someone, after all, may take their seat if they don’t board right fucking now)

5. Everyone must clap upon landing — to thank the pilot for not smearing their bodies on the landing strip, Puerto Ricans will clap after the plane has landed (to the embarrassment and chagrin of the younger generations)

All that said, on my last flight this was an older gentleman that made a cellphone call to someone (presumably his daughter or grand-daughter) just because he hadn’t been able to properly say good-bye to her, to wish her well and give her his blessing: I found that to also be a typically-Puerto Rican gesture that kind of made me nostalgic for my long-gone grand-parents.

So, did I miss any? ūüôā I’m sure I did, so post away!

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

No longer a bastard! Weeeee!

I went to Puerto Rico this past weekend (just a short Friday-to-Sunday stint) to be at my parents’ church wedding (well, technically a vow renewal, as they got married by a justice of the peace 30 years ago). I guess this means I am no longer the Hell-bound bastard fruit of a Godless marriage, yeay! Well, I suppose it’s still debatable whether I am still Hell-bound, or a bastard for that matter (feel free to post your opinions on either account). ūüėČ

The ceremony was nice, short, and just for the handful of close friends and family that attended. The day before the actual wedding, during the rehearsal, the priest roped my sister and me into doing some readings during the ceremony: and I thought I just came to walk Mom down the aisle and eat good food and cake! I guess God moves in mysterious ways (mainly because His representatives on Earth are quite sneaky)!

The funniest part of the ceremony was when the priest read a passage that insinuated that my Mom, over 60 years old, was “fertile soil,” which I guess is priest-speak for “barren rocky terrain where not even cacti would grow.” I think some of the passages should be tailored to the people being wed (the whole part about raising their children in the Church was particularly laughable: I am sorry to say that that ship has sailed, gotten lost at sea, and eaten by a sea serpent).

The reception was held at our house and I have to say I had a good time, as I got to see many relatives that I barely get to see anymore (the worst of which, in small doses, are still fun to be with). I did get plagued by the same question over and over: “So, when are you getting married?” Ok, let me state this plainly: that is ostensibly the stupidest question ever. Unless I had an actual fianc√©, a wedding date, and the law on my side, the inevitable answer to that question is “I don’t know”: what answer are they actually expecting?

I am used to being asked that question by elderly folk: it seems that after a couple of generation gaps there are really very few topics of conversation that may be broached, from the banal (like the weather) to the horribly personal. I was surprised, however, that I was also asked the same question by other unmarried cousins, some younger, one about my age, and one even slightly older. My staple answer (since with the younger relatives I could afford to be more of my own smart-ass self) was: “Five days after you get married” (hopefully by then they will have forgotten all about it)! It was funny because, since my sister is getting married in December, even the priest had asked me: I felt quite tempted to say: “Well, never, if your Church has anything to say about it!”, but visions of fire and brimstone danced in my head and I decided to keep my trap shut.

I also found it curious that whenever an older relative asked and I said, as politely as I could, that I don’t know (not being a prescient seer and all), they always seemed a bit embarrassed to have asked and quickly replied that it was all right, that there was no hurry, and that I should just enjoy my bachelorhood (as if I had indicated any discontent in not being married), which leads me to ask why they were so intent in asking in the first place… but what can you do, right? Family: can’t live with ’em, can’t kill them and bury them in the cellar because there are no cellars in Puerto Rico.

And with that lovely murderous thought, I bid you adieu. ūüôā

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments