Okay so I know what you’re thinking. What kind of a name is Charisma, but that was her name. Surprisingly I later found out that the name “Charisma” is a common name amongst girls, but in the 90’s it was a unique and different one. I believed that her parents were hippies, but that was just a speculation of mine at the time. She was beautiful though. Oh! Btw this was my first real crush on a girl in grade school. Thought I should mention that before we dive in. Like any first real crush you tend to do a lot of stupid things. You write notes back and forth, you draw little doodles on your notebook that say, “I
Yeah, this really happened and because of that it really set me up for disaster with all future relationships, and not in a, “Holy Cow! I’m never going to find my person” type of thing but more of an “I tend to always put my foot in my mouth type of thing”. Like this one time when I tried to pay Charisma a compliment I really wanted to tell her that she had beautiful eyes but instead I told her she had a booger hanging from her nose (Sorry Charisma but that thing was huge!) See stuff like that would always get me in trouble. Also I should mention that we were two fourth graders, and she was unaware of this but I had made her my girlfriend.
You think she’d understand this after I had returned from our winter break with a gift for her. I had gone to Mexico for Christmas to visit my dad’s side of the family and as we were crossing the border back into the states I saw this little old lady with ten kids selling these glass figurines. From the backseat window I see this glass humming bird that I just thought was perfect for my girl. So I get off the car and rush over and paid for it (And when I mean pay for it of course I used my parents money because in the 90’s no fourth grader had their own money…not like today where third graders have IPhones or IPads or some sort of thing that shouldn’t be allowed to have until they are at least twenty maybe twenty-seven.)
So I returned from my trip all bright eyed and bushy tail ready to give this gift to Charisma and then I find out that that on this specific day, apparently Charisma was seen macking with this kid name Rudy. So Rudy was the other Mexican in my class, and don’t get me wrong there were other Mexican children in the school but in my class it was just me and Rudy. Because my parents blessed me with my father’s name our teacher would always get us mixed up. Its one thing to be the only Mexican in your class, but to have another one in it complicates things. It was not a fun time especially when it came to Cinco de Mayo (Which btw is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. It’s like in some awkward month like January or April.) Christmas was bad too, all those kids screaming at the top of their lungs “Feliz Navidad!” at the Christmas recitals…I blame all of my headaches on those recitals. I strongly dislike that song!
With this new news that I received I had no idea on how to process it. So I did what any other normal Hispanic kid would do and that was to devour my lunch burrito and then play some kick ball. My normal position was to play out-fielder along with my best-friend AJ. AJ was also of Mexican decedents and our families got together occasionally for carne asada and to watch the boxing matches on HBO, plus they had a BOMB.COM house completed with a pool in the backyard. AJ always had the latest and greatest video games and we bonded very quickly on this aspect. I mean he would always kick my butt, but it was a great time and to this day I’m still not that great at video games (Except Halo! I love Halo! It is one of my all-time favorite games next to Kingdom Hearts! Sorry, I had to geek out right there.)
There I was getting ready for the next kicker to kick the ball when AJ comes up to me. “Hey dude. Did you hear about Charisma?” I replied with a simple no because I really didn’t want to talk about it when AJ continued. “Hate to break it to you but Rudy has been telling everyone that they were macking out back by the trees. I heard him talking to some of the other guys in the bathroom.” I was fuming I couldn’t believe that this tyrant was bragging that he was macking out with my girl! I mean that was my squirrel! Now before we go into what proceeded I should create a little side note.
From the ages of eleven to twenty-five I would consistently do this thing that whenever I would find out some sort of information whether it would be true or not I would always get a little ahead of myself. I tend to see things through the lens of a camera or on a stage and it were times like these where the camera would pan out and you would hear a great big epic dramatic NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! And then I got over it, but as the years came that great big epic dramatic NOOOOOOO would turn into anger and I would go off in a tangent of cursing like a sailor. That wasn’t until later till like I was sixteen or so. Anyways moving on…
I came back from seeing things through the lens and began to put my thoughts together. I had no idea on what to think or on what to do. I mean this couldn’t be true. The sweet beautiful innocent Charisma couldn’t be macking with the “other” Mexican. I thought I was her “only” Mexican. How dare she?! The lunch bell rang for all of us to go back into class. I walked with my head hanging low replaying the images of Charisma locking lips with the other man. I couldn’t shake it. It was like the first time you watched Marley & Me (Talk about a depressing moving, that movie is more depressing than Titanic. You know what’s terrible about that movie is that Jack never tells Rose that he loves her and the fact that there was plenty of room on that damn door. Either Jack sucks at telling his true feelings or James Cameron sucks at writing. I mean must I remind you of Avatar? Way to steal the plot from Pocahontas James.)
The rest of class was a blur I really don’t remember any of it. The images went from color to black and white and before you know it I was in Casablanca (So many movie references.) The day had ended and I had found myself back at home in my room looking at the glow and the dark stickers that I had stuck to the top of my ceiling. I had counted them several times when my mom entered my room. Parents will always know when something is up. It’s weird, it’s like God planted them with a detector to instantly smell fishy business. My mother was a master at this. I swear you could never get anything by her!
Like this one time she had forbidden my sisters and I to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when it came out in theaters. Now this was after the fact that she had already bought me Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the schools book fair, and the only reason she forbid us to see it is because I guess there were reports on the news of little kids jumping off kitchen counter tops with broomsticks thinking that they were playing a game of Quidditch. You think my mother would have faith that I was a little bit smarter in the fact that I wasn’t an idiot, but no. I couldn’t see the greatest movie of all time as a child because of the ridiculous acts of others. So I did what any other kid would do. I tricked my dad into taking me, my sisters, and my cousin Andrea to the film. Yeah…I got grounded for a month for that.
“What’s wrong with you? You barely touched your food. That never happens.” (I was a fairly big boned child growing up.) I mean I really didn’t want to tell my mom of what had happened. How was I supposed to tell her that the girl of my dreams was allegedly kissing another guy? “How did your friend like her gift?”, and there it was the question of the hour. I was so busy in learning all of this crap at school that I had completely forgot to give the gift to Charisma. So I lied to mom and said that I didn’t give it to her because I was “shy”. If you know me personally than you know that I’m not “shy”. “Well tomorrow is a new day. You can give it to her tomorrow.” How was I going to give this glass figurine to Charisma after finding out that she was cheating?
My mother left my room and I was alone again. I had no idea on what I was going to do tomorrow when I entered school. There was no way that I could show my face. I mean people were already talking that I was going to fight Rudy which was dumb! I’m not a fighter! I’m a lover, a lover who was burning with anguish. That’s when I heard a little voice in my head, and it said “Pray”. The only reason I knew what prayer was because at the time I was being raised a Catholic and what usually consumes most of a Catholics time is prayer because they pray to everyone. Not just to God or Jesus, but to the Virgin Mary, the Saints, the Apostles, the Arch Angels, the Angels, Mary-Madeline, the Pope, the Vatican, and then there’s the dead relatives. So yeah…I knew what prayer was. I got on my knees and opened my mouth, and it went a little like this.
“Hey God…hope you can hear me, but I think I might be in some sort of trouble. Maybe not really trouble, but I think my girl is cheating. I know she really isn’t my girlfriend, but I want her to be. I hope that the rumor is just a rumor and that she will tell me the truth when I confront her about it. If it’s not true please tell me now so I won’t make myself look like a fathead when talking to her. Okay, cool. Goodnight God and Amen…”
Yeah, I was really smooth in the communication logs with God. It wasn’t until later my prayer life completely changed after finding my real home church where I could stay planted and grow in faith but that’s not until later in the book. The next morning at school it was recess and everyone was out by the tetherball courts. Normally in the afternoons at lunch time you play kickball but at morning recess the game was tetherball. Tetherball is a very aggressive sport. Whoever invented it must have had daddy issues or I like to think that they disliked cats or at least that is was I imagine when I’m trying to hit the ball (Do I hate cats? No, I dislike cats. I’m a dog person, but if you’re thinking that if I had the chance to harm a cat in any way shape or form you are mistaken. Nope, I love all of God’s creatures…accept pigeons I could do without pigeons but they’re here for some reason. I just wish they wouldn’t poop on me all the time.)
I approached the courts when I saw Charisma. The sun was hitting her in just the right spot. The rays of sun were bouncing off her dark brown hair just perfectly and then she flipped it. Or at least my camera lens of a mind’s eye was seeing it this way. That’s when I got smacked by the tetherball in the face! AJ was hitting the ball and I guess I didn’t hear him when he was serving it and the next thing I know I was crouching on the floor with my hands in my face. Good thing that I had placed the figurine on the floor before or else it would have shattered on the ground as I had fallen. “Dang it AJ!” I yelled, “What? I told you I was serving. It’s not my fault you’re drooling over there.”
Before I knew it most of the kids had seen this and began to point and laugh. I looked over and I saw Charisma staring at me trying to hold back a laugh or two. I walked over to her with the figurine in my hand. “Are you okay?” she said to me. “Yeah I’m good, AJ just being AJ…you know how he is.” (Um…actually she didn’t. She had never spoken to him or met him.) “Did it hurt?” Of course it hurt! What kind of a question was that? How would you feel if you got hit with spinning ball of doom tied to a rope? “No, it wasn’t that bad…I’m sure I’ll be fine. Just a little red I’ll just look like an Oompa Loompa for the rest of the day.” An Oompa Loompa? Way to go Raf…at this point I was treading water. If I kept opening my mouth there was no idea what other nonsense thing I would say.
An awkward pause lingered in the air for about 5 minutes which is like 5 days in fourth grader years. The bell had rang at it was time for class I began to panic. She was getting ready to leave when I shouted. I BOUGHT YOU A GIFT! She turned around, “You did?” I opened my hand and there was the humming bird glistening in the sunlight because of so much sweat that my palms had produced. She took it and stared at it, and then replied “It’s beautiful, Thanks.” Just like that, “Thanks” like as if it was no big deal. I mean what was going on? Up until this point everything in my life was not going as planned. That very Christmas I had asked for a Furby and a Rugrats alarm clock. Don’t get me wrong I got it for Christmas, but my mother blew the illusion that Santa Claus was a real person. I had caught her in the act when she got angry at me because I was acting like a brat in the back of our truck because I really wanted to stay and extra day in Mexico with my grandparents. So I guess she had every right to ruin the spirit of Christmas for a ten year old. “I have had it! This is the type of respect that I get after all things you got for Christmas!” Yeah the conversation went something like that.
The whole day I no longer had the image of Charisma kissing Rudy, instead I kept on replaying the “Thanks” in my head! I mean what the hell?! It kept on replaying in my head because that right there was confirmation that she did cheat! Who just says thanks? At least give me a hug! I bought that thing for 3 dollars from lady with ten kids! You know what I could do with 3 dollars? Buy myself a can of Surge! That’s what I could do or better yet rent a Troll in Central Park from Blockbuster…she had some nerve! Thanks…thanks…it kept on going on repeat like a damn broken record. School had ended and again I felt hopeless. I mean didn’t God hear my prayer? I sounded like an idiot and then I got a lame response. So by the time I had gotten home I had come to terms that Charisma was not the girl of my dreams but a hussy who got around. There was nothing that I could do about it except call her up that night and give her a piece of my mind.
This is the part where I screwed myself over. It was a defining moment that would continue to be the blueprint for me always putting my foot in my mouth. The typical dinner had ended. My mother was just starting to get good with her cooking. It was no longer the typical pasta night. She had made a full meal completed with salad and some sort of protein. My mother tried to make conversation. “So did you give your friend her gift?” I looked up from my plate, “Yeah something like that.” “What do you mean?” my mother replied. “She just said thanks. That was it.” My mom started laughing. “What did you want a parade? Or wait, did you want a kiss?” My mother took my plate my too clear it, when she said “Aye Mijo, you have a whole life ahead of you to be thinking about that type of stuff. Just be patient for life to happen.” Before dinner was served I had taken the home phone to my room and dialed Charisma. She didn’t pick up so I left her a message and the message went something like this…
“Hey Charisma…it’s me Raf or Rafael…from class. I hope you liked the gift that I gave you today at school…um I was just calling because if you want to date Rudy you can…no judgment. I know you guys were seen kissing by the trees. So yeah no hard feelings… See you in school and you can keep the humming bird. Bye.” The hole that I was digging myself into had gotten me to China by now. Dinner was finished when the phone rang. My mother went and answered the phone. “Hello? Yes this is the place. Yes, he’s here I’ll go get him.” My mom looked at me with her big brown eyes. “It’s Charisma.” She winked at me and smiled and then handed me the phone. “Hello?” The other line of the phone was silent and then I heard breathing.
“Rafael?” Hi, I don’t appreciate you calling my home and making accusations!” I was dead silent. I could see my mother in the corner of my eye giving me a thumbs up. She had no idea and at the same time I was surprised at the fact that Charisma knew a word such as “Accusation”. I mean I didn’t think she was dumb or anything, I was just surprised at that word. I played it cool over the line. “Okay…hope you liked the gift.” “The gift…that’s what you’re worried about?! You’re not going to say you’re sorry?” My face was pale and mother continued to smile towards my way. “Okay, I guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow.” “Aren’t you going to say that you’re sorry?!” I had nothing else to say except, “Yeah, I bought the gift in Mexico.” The other line was silent. “Don’t even bother on talking to me ever again! I want nothing to do with you! I actually thought you were a nice guy now I just know you’re stupid! Goodbye!” Click. That was it. She was gone. I hung up the phone. My mom looked my way.
“So what did she say?” I couldn’t tell her the truth that I was an idiot for believing in something that I had no idea if it was true or not. Not mention that if I did tell her that she would punish me. I already felt like a moron I didn’t want to be punished for being one too. “She loved it…said it was nice and sweet…cool actually”. “See! I told you Mijo. Just be patient and life will happen.” My mother was right, life was happening, but not in the manner that I wanted it to happen. I eventually went back to school and Charisma never spoke to me again and eventually my mom and dad did find out of what had happened, but they didn’t punish me. They figured that what I went through was punishment enough. I have never been good with being patient. Not with Charisma or with anything else in my life. Patience would be a BIG thing in my life, in my relationships with family, friends, and with God for that matter. The good thing was that I had God there laughing with me at all of the dumb situations that I would get myself into. To this day I still don’t know if Charisma actually was seen macking with Rudy, but whether it was true or not I would just have one thing to say to her and it would be this. I’m sorry.
P.s- Forgive me on the tangents….