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No. 5  

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Florangel Reyes





If you’re stuck in a rebellious stage and looking to piss everyone off, bringing home some tattooed and pierced white guy probably won’t do the trick. Unless he’s been convicted of a very violent felony, there’s a strong possibility your ethnic parents will still like him. If you’re a good little immigrant daughter, who still lives at home despite being almost thirty and you’d rather let your family think you’re a weirdo misanthrope than introduce anyone to them, wait until your older sister, her two brats and your mother have left the apartment. You’ve already told your sister you have un montón de shit to do and you can’t watch her kids. She didn't believe you, but she found another victim and told you, “Fine, you lying loser.” Don't feel too guilty. Your sister spent her college years juggling school and motherhood, and is just trying to catch up on her partying. Your mother conveniently works six nights a week and she would never ever, not even during a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack, miss a day of work.


If your parents were crazy enough to blow their life savings on one party, then hide that picture of yourself at your quinceañera, where you’re sporting the crunchy curls and shiny-gallons-of-gel-cowlick-bangs plastered across your forehead. If the guy is as ghetto fabulous as you, any drawer will do, but if he can’t really relate to your world, hide it in your mother's tacky vanity dresser. Yes, the dresser whose mirror is almost completely covered with funeral memorabilia, the dresser which proves that your mother resembles your grandmother more every day. I promise you, no guy will want to go near it.


Before showering, wrap your hair in a tight doobie; cover it with an old clean shirt, a plastic bag and a shower cap. When the guy arrives, you will purposely take out the booby pins in front of him. He will say the doobie brings out your good bone structure. Don't insist that it’s not really a hair-do. Instead, sit up straight and play the part of an ethnic goddess. But, if you’re one of the black and brown women who have gone all “naturale” and have declared “F straight hair and the salon,” then you’ve been a badass goddess all along, baby.
Wear the tightest jeans you own. (This will be explained later.)


If you and the date are taking the train, or walking somewhere close by, don’t point out the alleyways where you made out with boys during middle school and pray you don’t run into your exes who still live on your block. The worst ex is Street. Yes, that’s his nickname which he’s trying to live up to. That 6’3, lanky, brown pretty bastard should be strutting down a catwalk, but instead he will be sitting on a milk crate and when he sees you passing by he will say, Yohanny, I know that’s not your bitchass boyfriend. You’ll ignore him of course. The lesser of two evils is Amaury, who though he means well, will still sound sexist when he tells you, “Your body is your temple, mi hermana”. The old folks say he has some loose screws, but they only think that because he’s one of the few Latinos they’ve seen with dreads –Toño Rosario was probably the first. Your dark-skinned grandma still hasn’t gotten over Toño’s hairstyle and clothing choices. Every time she sees him on TV, she screams at the screen. “Look at that prieto with long blond hair and a skirt!” In reality, grandma is just jealous that Toño rocks those bleached dreads and kilt so well.


Even if you could carry the entire conversation, hear what your date has to say, he may surprise you. A black guy may tell you not to worry. He’s very aware of your mother’s deep-rooted fear of having grandchildren even darker than you. But, he is confident, that if he hangs around long enough, your mother will remember why she fell for a man as dark as your father.


You have female friends who were dumped –one by a Korean, one by an Indian– because both guys were under family pressures of Montagues vs. Capulets proportions. You’re not a bigot, so you won’t assume all Asians are alike and still go on that date with the Filipino. Maybe you can break the ice by discussing why he has a Latin sounding name or you can make a fool of yourself by naming all the Asian food you like. If things move along, don’t be surprised if you have to work hard to convince his Asian mother that you’re not a slut.


The Portuguese guy from Jersey or the half Italian/half Irish guy from Queens may start calling you “Babe” by the end of the date. But, if he or any other guy says that he loves dating immigrant “girls” because “you’re so family-oriented and traditional,” restrain yourself from burning your bra and slinging in his face. He means this as a compliment. He has no idea those words trigger thoughts of your aunts slaving over no good men.


The reason you should be wearing the tightest jeans you own is because not only will they make you look good, but in case you and the guy hit it off, they will prevent the easy access of a dress or leggings; therefore, giving you more time to remember that, though you’re a modern, liberated woman, making him wait is the only error-proof way to prove to these hypocrites that you’re a lady, dammit. When the guy (of any ethnicity but your own) is ready to lose his mind over the beauty of your otherness, you should randomly start telling him “fun facts” such as the reality that the Dominican Republic celebrates its independence from Haiti, not Spain, or any such thing that will inform him of your wokeness. The man you end up with needs to grasp that you won’t settle for being an exotic trinket on anyone’s mantelpiece.

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