Blue and White Fairytale

On the way back from school I’m talking to a classmate who lives a block away from the barrio.

“Yesterday I passed by your house and I saw that some guys were practicing a dance, are you going to have a party?” He asks.

“Yes, my sister Nena turns fifteen coming Saturday.”

“Where is the party going to be?”

“At home. There is no money to rent a party room,” I reply.

When I get home, my brother Mario talks in the sala with the boys who will be the chamberlains (These are the boys who accompany the quinceñars to the Church)  and dance the waltz with Nena.

My sister Perla is talking to a neighbor who offered to lend us chairs and they are looking at how to arrange them in the sala-comedor. Not many people seem to think about putting chairs around without tables. In the kitchen my Mama writes down on a piece of paper what she needs for the party dinner.

I go to the bedroom and leave my bookbag and take off my school uniform shirt and put on a t-shirt.

“Mama, I’m going out for a while.”

“Be careful with the cars. Dinner will be ready in a little while if you want to eat something”

“Yes, Mama, I’ll come to dinner soon, thank you.”

The boys are playing soccer in the barrio. I sit on the sidewalk to watch. Susana and Maria come over and sit on each side of me.

“So, we’re going to have a party, Martin?” says Susana as she puts her hand on my knee.

“Yes, next Saturday,” I tell her as my heart beats faster.

“Is there going to be music?” Maria asks.

“I heard my Papa say that Don Minipis is going to bring his speaker and that his bandmates from the dance orchestra are going to come and play for a while,” I told her.

They both ask me, “and are you going to dance?”

“Well, I can try,” I tell them. My cheeks feel warm.

The two smile and say goodbye, “well, see you Saturday.”

The boys finish playing and Ramiro tells me, “Martin, I think my Papa is going to make the drink for your sister’s party.”

“Oh, I didn’t know, and from what I know your Papa is famous for making that drink.”

Well, it’s Friday, tomorrow is the party.  When I get home my Mama is in the kitchen with Doña Teresa. On the table there are a lot of things like chocolate, spices and a large clay pot.

My Mama says, “Doña Tere is going to make mole with chicken tostadas to make it easier to serve there is not much space for tables.”

“I love chicken tostadas with mole,” I tell her.

“I know. Leave your things and go play outside so you’re not in the way.”

“ Yes, Mama.”

As I pass through the room, I see the chairs they lent us.  My sister and the chamberlains, including my brother Mario, are practicing the waltz for the last time. They look funny with long hair, psychedelic shirts and bellbottom pants, dancing a waltz.

I go out to the barrio for a while and there is not much movement, it seems like a quiet night, some girls are talking outside Bertilia’s house, a few of the boys are outside, so I sit outside the closed street and try to pass the time while my family is busy at home.  I can hear a song in a neighbor’s house, I think it’s called Stairway to Heaven.  We hear it many times a day in the barrio.

When I return home, I see some blue and white ribbons on the arch between the hall and the sala. There are well organized chairs against the walls.

My Mama tells me, “Take out the clothes you are going to wear tomorrow right now, remember that we are going to 6 PM mass and you have to look good.”

“Yes, Mama. I will do it before going to sleep,” I replied.

I take out and put on a chair my blue short-sleeved shirt that I rarely wear.  I like it because it has buttons on the neck like the ones my brother Mario wears, and that makes me feel like an older boy.

On Saturday after breakfast, we all help to check that nothing is missing for the party.

Someone shouts outside the door of the house, “Don Pancho!”

My Papa comes out and says, “come on in, it’s good that you’re early.”

It is Ramiro’s Papa who is going to prepare the drink. Two other men enter with him carrying a jug of water, sugar and a sack of fruit.

“Don Pancho just brings the jug of tequila and I’m in charge of preparing the agua loca,” Ramiro’s Papa says.

Then the line begins to take a turn to bathe. Of course, my sister goes first because they have to do her makeup after the bath.

When we are ready to go to church, a car stops outside the house.  It has blue and white bows on the hood and doors. A neighbor offered to take my parents, my sister, and her godparents to the church.

My parents come out looking like movie stars and my sister in her long white dress with a blue ornament on the front and a blue crown on her head.  Wow! It looks like a fairy tale.

The rest walk to the church two blocks away.

The church looks beautiful with many flower arrangements.

My parents and godparents sit in front at the sides of my sister.  The chamberlains are wearing white pants and blue shirt as they sit on the first bench.

After mass we return home.

The house is full of people.  Don Minipis plays soft music on his speaker to entertain as we wait.

The bandmates from the orchestra where my Papa plays arrive, greet my Papa and settle down. I like their suits with satin lapels and discreet embroidery of navy-blue flowers, and pants with black satin stripes down the sides.

The director of the orchestra and his wife are the godparents of Nena, the quinciañera.

The house has a high ceiling and that helps with the sound and the feeling of having more space. The drink is served and everyone seems happy. The chairs are all occupied.  It is time for the waltz.

My brother Mario, with Roque, Ciceron, Charico and Hector, the chamberlains, line up with my sister to begin.

With music they move in perfect coordination.

The choreography goes from one side to the other and the chamberlains take turns dancing with the quinceañera.

At the end they lift my sister up, they hold her by the lower part of her legs and she opens her arms.  They turn her around in a circle.  As the song ends, they lower her down, slowly and she stands with her arms open.  The dance is over and the chamberlains drop to one knee with their heads bowed in reverence.

A wonderful scene.

Everyone applauds loudly and shouts, Bravo!

Now the orchestra starts playing another waltz.  My sister’s godfather starts a dance with her. Halfway through the song, the godfather walks with my sister to where my Papa proudly stands in his orchestra suit and his black velvet bow tie. Nena’s godfather hands her over to my Papa to dance with her. The two look at each other and smile happily.

The waltz ends and again everyone applauds and shouts.

Some neighbors and my sisters begin to distribute plates with chicken tostadas with mole to the guests while the orchestra plays soft music.

My Mama is beautiful in her black, satin gown with silver sparkles on the top and a silver tiara in her long black hair. She approaches my sister and hugs her for a long time.  I don’t know if it’s a goodbye hug or a welcome hug or both.

I see Susana in her flowered dress with a white collar, black shoes with white socks and a pink ribbon with a bow on her head. The colors highlight her dark skin, like mine.

She approaches me with a slow step and smiling.

“Do you dance?” she asks me.

“I’ll try,” I reply.

So, I start moving my two left feet. My sisters, Eva, Sonia and Nena are dancing in a group of girlfriends. They are having fun.

The night passes between laughter and dancing.

“I’m leaving, see you tomorrow,” says Susana, “goodbye.”

Some neighbors start sweeping and my Mama says, “leave it there, don’t bother I’ll clean and tidy up tomorrow. I thank you very much.”

My brother Mario and his friends are in the hall with a guitar.

“Don’t stay late, “ my Papa tells them.

“No, Don Pancho,” the boys answer.

I get ready to sleep. I take off my clothes and get into bed.

I think about how wonderful this day was.  My parents looked like a King and Queen, my sisters like princesses, especially the quinciañera.  My brother and his friends, the chamberlains, as guardians.

Paco, my other brother and I are the mice in the fairy tale.

I am a happy lucky boy, a mouse, and… dancer!

Sergio Casas
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