Georgy Girl

Maybe 25 years ago, Georgina escapes Mexico. She hires coyotes, people to smuggle her and a cousin out. The smugglers leave them in a desert. They have no water, no food. They tell them to walk towards the light, but it is entirely dark, with no light. They walk and walk in circles. No light, no water, no food. They rest, fall asleep, and wake up. They see the light. Tired and thirsty, they walk, and finally arrive. Someone meets them, and puts them on a truck. They fall asleep. When they awaken, they are united with cousins in the States.

She moves to New York, and raises a family. The husband beats her. She leaves. She works at a deli and cleans houses to get her kids education. She becomes a citizen. She marries an illegal gay immigrant. He pays her for citizenship. Her children grow up, and they get good jobs in the foodservice industry in Vegas and Florida. Now she bides her time at St. Stephen's. She takes four-day weekends often to visit her kids.

As Father explains, "She is a survivor. She transformed herself from an immigrant innocent to a savvy assimilated immigrant. Yes, Ben, she may seem like a lazy Latina housekeeper. But, she is plodding along, making the system work for her. So, please have a little understanding." I feel like I should make the sign of the cross and say an Act of Contrition. That's what you do after Confession.

After, Father Tom arranges for the priests to load the fancy new dishwasher and run it every night. I clear the table, and neither Georgina nor I do the dishes.Georgina does not talk to me for two weeks. Then she warms. And this is how it goes. We have our blowouts. Like when she said I had to use a full pot of water to boil potatoes. "You know they are made of 90% water, so you must fill the pot." I told her that was stupid. After a few weeks, she always thaws.

Around the holidays, we all go to a party at Joyce’s house. She has invited parishioners and the church staff to her townhouse in the Village for a Christmas celebration. Her husband supervised the remodeling of MOMA; their townhouse is impeccably decorated. The spread is terrific. Georgina shows up all dolled up; she is not the all-around housekeeper. She looks very Tom Petty, an American girl. And she and everyone else drink like one too. Me, I am an alcoholic, and I don't drink since my 50th birthday. I had a big shebang, and I blacked out after the first hour. I am an alcoholic who cannot stop at 1 or 2 drinks. I drink till I black out. At Joyce's party, the church staff is soused. Georgina takes this opportunity to bond with me further, fueled by hops.

Benhamin, let me tell you about La Malinche. She was an Indian native, traded to the Spanish as a slave. She became their translator. She helped Cortez beat the Aztecs. She was a victim, collaborator, survivor and is now a hero to us Chicanas. Us feministas refer to her as a "mother." She married Cortez, had children, and was instrumental in the Spanish conquering native Mexico."

I am at first taken aback by the worship of a collaborator. Being Filipino, I take on the colonial slant, a collaborator is a traitor. But Georgina talks like some Latina Gloria Steinham, Betty Friedan, about La Malinche, and I understand and appreciate this kind of heroine.

She is speaking now like a bodega owner on the Upper West Side. She usually talks like my latino waiter friends do. They speak this Spanglish stereotype to customers, a sense of humor reinforcing their speech. They say "Si senor" like Speedy Gonzalez. To customers, they say, “Si senor…but of course, more cerveza.” It works. They make the best tips.

Georgina speaks like that to priests and parishioners but no longer with me. She drops her guard, and even speaks Spanish. Because of my limited kitchen Spanish, she reverts to English with a slangish gal slant. "Claro que si, Benhamin." And then she drops to, "Don't be playing me, Ben, you think you some kinda playah?



Ben Umayam

Ben Umayam moved to NYC to write the Great American Filipino Gay Short Story.  He worked for political pollsters, then became a fancy hotel chef and then retired.  He is working that short story again.  He was recently published by Querencia Anthology Autumn 2022, The Phare, BULL, Down in the Dirt, Metaworker, Ligeia, EthelZine, Lotus-eaters, 34th Parallel, Digging Through The Fat, Anak Sastra, Corvus Review, and others. Ben recommends the Mighty Mehal Foundation.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, April 30, 2023 - 20:49