Out first short story submission to #LatinoLit was sent to us by author Gilberto González, a Philadelphia native who writes about life in his city. Born of Puerto Rican parents, González grew up in Philadelphia and understands fi rst-hand the racism and hardships facing the Latino community. “Going through high school was tough. Going through college was tougher,” he said. González did not let adversity slow him down. After receiving an associate degree of fi ne arts from Community College of Philadelphia, he continued his education at University of the Arts, where he earned a bachelor degree in graphic design. In 1989, González tapped his personal motivation and graphic design skills in order to create Cinco Graphics at the Taller Puertorriqueño, a professional training program that allowed high school students to prepare for college or the workforce in graphic design.
#LatinoLit Author Gilberto González
by Gilberto González
One summer I walked out of my house, a typical Philadelphia row home. Here everyone knows your business because the walls are thin and everyone is always hanging outside. This day the Kensington streets were crowded when I noticed across the street this amazing girl. We looked at each other and smiled. She was half white and half Puerto Rican. She had light brown hair, very soft white skin, she was a little taller than me, slim, with a nice full ass. I normally would never walk up to a girl because I was shy, but for some reason, I decided to talk to her.
“Who are you?” I asked.
She replied, “Damaris, Maria’s sister.”
“Why are you here?”
She replied, “Babysitting my big sister’s kids for the summer.”
“Why are you so pretty?”
She just smiled and said, “Because my mother made me that way.”
After that first encounter at North Howard Street we were in separable. Every evening, once she finished babysitting her sister’s kids, I would walk her home. She lived about four blocks from my house on 5th and Berks. Her family lived on the second floor of an apartment building. After a few weeks of walking her home, I became a fixture at her door stoop. When it was time for her to eat dinner we would get up and stand in the foyer of the building. With the doors closed we would start to kiss and the kiss would seem to last a long time. Her lips were soft, not too wet or too dry, and she covered my lips from top to bottom. From the moment she pressed her lips to mine it felt nice. It was one of the best kisses I ever had.
One evening she told me that she confessed to her mom that she loved me and that she wanted me to come into the house. That evening I was allowed upstairs. I met her family and they all seemed to like me. Her mom was Puerto Rican but her father, the white guy, did not live with them. Instead, her mom introduced this little black guy as her stepfather. So now I was introduced to everyone in the house and we sat to eat dinner.
A bit later, during dinner, I asked to use the bathroom. I walked up the dark hallway up to the third floor. Once inside, as I stood at the toilet, I looked around and I saw all the normal things including some picture frames. They were images of barns and the frames were the kind you would see in every household in Philadelphia. They were a pair of black, plastic vine frames. As I was standing in front of the toilet, I noticed a roach crawl behind one of pictures. I thought I’d do Damaris and her family a favor and kill the bug. So I hit the frame in attempts to kill the thing. But, when I hit the frame, roaches came out crawling in all directions. All this happened as I started to urinate. While in a panic about the bugs, I tried to keep control of my bladder. As the roaches ran all over the place I urinated on the rug, the sidewall, the top of the toilet; it was everywhere. Once the roaches disappeared and found new hiding places I began to clean the bathroom. As I was cleaning I soon noticed these dark rings in the toilet and that this was not the cleanest bathroom. As I left the bathroom I began to see bugs all over the house, and that did it for me. I soon realized that Damaris and her family were not the cleanest people in the world. If my mom saw a roach in our house she would scream and beat the bug to hell. I was not a snot but moms tend to pass on their practices to their children and being clean was something my mom beat into me until I got married.
After that, I could no longer look at my sweet-lipped honey without seeing bugs. I walked her home a few more times, but I would refuse to go into that apartment. She would get upset with me and cry. She would asked me “if I was no longer interested in her.” or “Did you find someone else?”
She cried, and for weeks her family was angry with me. I could not tell her or her family the truth. I could not tell them that her house filled with bugs grossed me out. Her family continually asked me why am I playing with her. But all I could say was, “Sorry.”
Copyright @2010 Gilberto González
To learn more about Gilberto, here is his story from MyLatinoVoice.