I"m in New York City this week for the PEN World Voices Festival, an annual gathering of writers from around the world, no Chicana/o writers hanging out here, just me and la colombiana Raquel...
Anyway, been staying with the journalist Roberto Lovato in Brooklyn, and as I left the N Train on 14th Street yesterday, a man rushed to reach me, saying "Excuse me, I think these are yours."
Raquel and I turned around. Nobody hardly talks to anyone on the subway.
He was a big, white, professional-looking man. In a pin-stripe suit, pa' acabar. With my black Victoria's Secret panties in his hands.
If you know me, I always have something to say. This time, I was frozen, stunned with verguenza, what would my mother say? Why does this always happen to me?
Raquel turned to me as he came forward clutching my french-cut calzones with the pretty pink rosettes. She was accusing.
"Did you forget to wear your calzones?"
"Well, then how come he has them, do you have to lose everything?"
Where, what, why? How how how how? I wanted to faint.
The man just stood there, waiting.
"Get them, idiota." Raquel said.
I gingerly took them, wondering what was done with them.
As we walked up the stairs to the street, I started shaking. You know that laughing and crying you do because it just rained and you're going to the concert of your life and you look like a drowned rat? And the bus just covered you with mud? You know that feeling? It was worse than that.
With the black chones in my hand, I remembered that the fleecy Chinatown chaleco I bought the day before, and laid on my suitcase before I went to sleep could have, might have, OhmyGod, magnetized my panties so I was roaming all over Brooklyn and the N Train with a pair of panties as decoration.
Well, so much for trying to be glamorous or even funky in New York. Que rasquache, como decimos en San Antonio.
As Raquel says, I won the prize. But I got my panties back.
Thank you, New York.