Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Here's to you, Melinda T!

I downloaded a Judy Blume book called "BFF" on my Kindle that contained two stories, "Here's to You, Rachel Robinson! and "As Long as We're Together."  By the first page of "As Long as We're Together", I was drawn in.  The story is about two best friends who get a third best friend when a new girl moves to town.  In the foreward, Judy Blume describes how the book mirrors her experiences in middle school with her two best friends. 

I also had (and still have to this day) two best friends, Melinda and Tracy. 

This story is about Melinda.

As I have told y'all before, I have known Melinda since I was a little girl growing up in Ontario, California.  We rode our bicycles through the surburban streets for most of my childhood.  Our friendship and history together is part of who I am.  We had crazy adventures, too many to count. There was the time we got drunk at a friend's house and walked home in the rain.   Somehow, Melinda came home dripping wet with only one shoe on. 

I wanted to be Melinda.  In junior high, I coveted her straight black spiky hair and her cool jean jacket with concert buttons lined up on the right side. 

In high school, she got even better looking.  She looked like a Mexican version of the lead singer of the Bangles.  I could never compete with her.  She was a total guy magnet. 

Melinda always tried to help me with my makeup and hair, usually to no avail.  She tried to straighten my hair for the junior prom and I ended up looking like a puffy poodle.  To make matters worse, the red dress I had bought looked good in the window, but it's shiny apple color didn't suit my skin.  Melinda looked amazing in a tight, irredescent lavendar dress and purple eyeshadow.

To make matters worse, Melinda had set me up with her boyfriend Todd's friend so we could double date for prom.  I had anticipated being set up with one of his handsome punker friends, but the guy who came with Todd to Melinda's door to pick us up that night was about five foot three with long Jesus like hair and a mustache. 

They took us to Cask and Cleaver and eternal optimist that I am, I tried to make the best of it.  The Jesus lookalike didn't say a word and the less he said, the more I babbled.  When we finally got to the dance, I tried to dance with him, but he kept counting in my ear.

Thankfully, Todd got caught drinking and we all got kicked out of the dance.  I don't remember what happened then.

What's funny is that many of my stories with Melinda are like that, in the sense that they end abruptly.  We had so many crazy times together that they all kind of blend together and trail off suddenly.  When we hang out, we talk about the old times and we have to chime in and correct one another. 

Maybe fiction would be easier.  But, the reality is much more sweet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I got into another argument with my monster-in-law.  She is the Argentine version of Godzilla to me right now. 

For those of you who don't know my back story, let me get you up to speed. 

My father-in-law Alberto died a little over a year ago.  My mother-in-law was devastated and my husband and I knew at seventy eight years of age that her living alone was not a good option.  She barely speaks English and doesn't drive on the freeway.  So, we cleaned out her house in West Covina and moved her into our newly decorated guest bedroom downstairs.  A couple of months later, masochists that we are, we moved my mom in too.  I suppose we wanted a matching set.

We found a tenant for my mother-in-law's house in West Covina house rather quickly.  Then, for some odd reason (hello, because my husband asked me to) I began managing the rental property.  If the tenant had a problem, I fixed it.  I didn't mind.  I knew my husband and his mom needed my help.  Plus. being a control freak is natural for me and I am convinced that I am the only one who can do things the right way.

It all blew up last week.  The tenant called me to renew the lease and I made an appointment for Saturday to do so.  When I called my mother-in-law from my lunch break to inform her of the appointment she said in her strong Argentine accent, "Why do you make an appointment with her?  That is my house.  I need to be there."  I took a deep breath and counted to three before I said anything, "Orieta," I replied, "Don't worry, of course you can be there."

They say no good deed goes unpunished and that is too true.  That next evening, my mother-in-law told me I was butting in where I was not welcome.  "I should be the one to talk to her.  I don't know why you called her," she said. 

I blew my top.

"I was trying to help you,"  I screamed.  "Do you think I have nothing better to do than call your tenant for you and renew your lease?  I work fifty hours a week and have my own rental property to worry about.  I could go get a massage on Saturday morning rather than drive you to West Covina." 

You are ridiculous," I added.  I was on a roll.  "You are the most ungrateful person I have ever met."

"Don't talk to me like that, I live here," she said in a stern voice. 

"Oh yeah, that's right you do live here," I responded with a turn of my head as I walked upstairs to my bedroom. 

Now, what is the moral of the story?  Is it, don't do things for others because you will never be appreciated?  Or is it, don't expect gratitude and just do things out of the goodness of your own heart.  The good deed is it's own reward. 

To tell you the truth, I don't know.  What I do know, however, is that I have to change.  My tendency to do everything is not limited to my personal life.  It is also my modus operandi at work.  Which is fine and good except that I never get the appreciation I think I deserve and get upset about it. 

Maybe the moral is that you can't please everyone, you can only please yourself and you should only go out of your way for those who are appreciative.

Or maybe there is no moral, just one rule.  Don't ever let your Godzilla like mother-in-law move in with you because you will live to regret it.

"But, wait", says the little voice inside my head, "Tell them the rest of the story."

On Saturday morning at eight a.m., my husband and I woke up and drove to Wrightwood for breakfast at a charming coffee shop called The Evergreen Cafe.  The mountains were covered in snow and I was glad I had worn my snow boots.  We waited for my sister-in-law Sally and my nephew Nicolas to arrive.  After an hour of my husband and I sipping on our coffee, my phone rang.  I went outside the cafe and climbing out of the car was Sally and Nicolas along with my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law Gabe.

My mother-in-law gave me a kiss on the cheek as if everything was fine.  I looked at Gabe with a scowl, "Don't you have an appointment with the tenant this morning?" I asked him. 

"Oh, we didn't make it," he said with a shrug. 

"Well, did you call her and cancel?" I asked him in a sharp voice.  "You need to call her and cancel."

As he fumbled with his words and then for his phone to make the call I smiled and thought to myself, amateurs.