Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 2:31:29 AM
Dan Garcia's How-To Guide to Life
Part One: How to [Not] be Normal
This is a fiction short story.
I am Dan. I know, I know: you might as well say Dan I am. Can’t get much more ordinary than that. To sweeten the deal, my name is Dan Garcia. Garcia. Garcia! Can you believe it?
In case you were wondering (which you probably weren’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway), Garcia happens to be the eighteenth most common name in the entire United States. Yup, that’s right, right up there with Smith and Johnson and Williams. And at the rate us Mexicans reproduce, it’s probably becoming the seventeenth most common name in the entire US even as we speak (I’m half Mexican, therefore I have the right to make racist jokes. Have you noticed that it’s OK for people to diss themselves but not other ethnicities? I’ve never quite figured out how that works ever since this Chinese lady chased me halfway to Alaska after I made slant eyes at her in the grocery store.)
Anyway, Dan Garcia is about as ordinary as it gets. And Dan isn’t even short for anything. Not Daniel. Or Danny. Not even Jordan. Danabob. Danshamu. Danteotihuahua. Daniobelliomariocarriohuevobaybocalomolopopop. I bet most of you didn’t even read that. You just skimmed it with your eyes and thought, No way I’m reading that.
But it’s just Dan, Dan Garcia. No one has any problem reading a four-syllable pair of words. I want a last name that’s long and hard to pronounce, like Bandyopadhyay or Tkachenko or something with way too many vowels and consonants. At least something that makes a red squiggly line pop up under it on Microsoft Word every time you type it out, even if you press “Ignore All” a bajillion times. I want a name that makes teacher’s quit their jobs after trying to take attendance, wins the prize in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most syllables, and runs out of spaces when I fill out those stupid bubble-things for the pre-SAT.
I have brown hair, brown eyes, fairly brown skin (I told you, I’m only half Mexican). I am the most ordinary person around.
And she, well, pff, she’s the most unordinary person around. Come on. Purple lipstick, orange dreadlocks, and the most popular girl in school? You can’t get much better than that. She’s like every guy’s dream.
But she hates ordinary. Ordinary is a no-no at Michelin Middle School. Yeah, Michelin. Like the tires. You decide if it’s ordinary or not to go to a middle school named after a tire company.
And when she smiles all you can do is stare at her rainbow-colored braces, and when she laughs all you can do is watch her ropey, knotty orange hair fly through the air like Tarzan’s jungle vines, and when she applies her purple lipstick at lunch you can’t help but stare at that obnoxiously neon pink plastic lipstick holder and how beautiful it looks with her tortoiseshell fingernails wrapped around it.
Yeah, I got it bad.
But she hates ordinary. Everyone at Michelin hates ordinary ever since she revolutionized the meaning of . . . everything.
Despite my Dan-Garcia ordinariness, however, I do have a few redeeming qualities.
Redeeming Quality Number One: Rico.
Rico, Rico, Rico. Where do I start?
He hates getting his feet wet, adores wearing pink ribbons, and is madly in love with the neutered pit-bull who lives next door, Boobie Boo. Who is this anomalous creature? To make a long(ish) story short, Rico is my homosexual mutt. To fully explain Rico, I must also provide a short history of Boobie Boo. (Their fates are irrevocably entwined. I think Rico pledged his undying love to Boobie Boo a few months ago.)
Boobie Boo the pit-bull has been depressed ever since his owner died in a motorcycle accident and Boobie went to live with the old crab-lady next door, Mrs. Crabbil (hence the term “crab-lady”). I guess I’d be depressed too if my owner died and the first thing my new owner did was cut off my balls. All Boobie ever does is lie around with big mopey eyes and a string of drool longer than the Nile River. The drool drives Rico mad. He must have some sort of disease where he’s sexually turned on by drool. If so, Darell Higgins is in serious trouble if I ever get him to actually come over. The kid salivates enough to provide a year’s supply of water for an African village in the Sahara.
But Boobie and Rico make quite a pair: the pit-bull with ambiguous genitalia getting humped by the homosexual Chihuahua-lab mix (and no, I’m not sure what freak first decided to mix a Chihuahua and a Labrador; personally I don’t think they’re entirely compatible). AKA, Rico and Boobie Boo. They are definitely a good Redeeming Quality for an ordinary student at Michelin Middle School.
Two: Tina, AKA the Moose-Child.
Tina is my younger sister. By younger, I mean way younger, like ten years younger, like surprise-you’re-pregnant-at-age-forty-when-you-should-be-pre-menopausal-younger. Tina doesn’t talk. Like, at all. It’s just not her thing.
OK, scratch that. I need to redefine talk. Talk means to string together a series of words and sounds until they create an intelligible and logical sentence that communicates an idea, question, or statement. Pretty good, eh? Dan Garcia Definition No. 1. So, now that we’re on the same page, Tina can speak, but she can’t talk. She can only say one word, and that word is “moose,” and she rarely delights the world with her speech. I can remember three times in recent memory that Tina has spoken. All three times she said “moose.”
The first time was when she was given a lollipop in the shape of a heart. She gazed up at the vendor with big brown eyes, her lips forming a huge “O” and then clamping shut like a duck bill to form the “mm” in moose.
“Mmmmmmoose,” she said. It was her first word, and she was talking about a heart-shaped lollipop.
I’ll explain the other two times later. They take a bit longer to explain.
Anyway, Redeeming Quality Number Three: the Egg Room.
One day a beautiful woman was walking around in a park and a bird pooped on her head. She was so ticked she chased the bird all the way back to its tree and shook the tree until the nest fell out and two of the pale, speckled blue eggs cracked and spilled yellow bird guts all over the grass. She took the eggs home to show her pot-bellied husband, Leprechaun, and her two children, one who could only say “moose” and the other who had practically the most common name in the continental US.
The Spoils of War, she said.
No really, she named the eggs the Spoils of War. Ever since that day this particular beautiful woman has had a vendetta against all birds, particularly the kind that hatch out of blue eggs.
On the day the Spoils of War were brought home, the spare bedroom upstairs became the Egg Room. The beautiful woman glued the Spoils of War to the wall and then went downstairs and cooked up the biggest batch of scrambled eggs you’ve ever seen, using every one of the eighteen eggs in the carton. But she didn’t throw away the shells. She went upstairs and glued them all on the walls of the Egg Room surrounding the Spoils of War.
It was only after doing all this that she finally went to the bathroom and washed the bird crap out of her hair.
Thank you, thank you, sorry, no encore.
Uh, yeah, the beautiful woman would be Mumu, i.e. my mother. And yeah, the Egg Room is right next to my room and by now every wall is covered except for the ceiling.
And yes, Redeeming Quality Number Four is indeed: Leprechaun and Mumu.
Uh, yeah, my father’s name really is Leprechaun Garcia. You see, Gramps and Momo (my grandma and grandpa) immigrated (legally, I might add) to America back in 1960. They had a bit (**cough cough** a lot **cough cough**) of trouble integrating with American culture and society and all that jazz. For example, the first thing Gramps did when he got over the border was buy a mule. The second thing he bought was a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Of course he tried to ride the mule through the drive-through and when they said he couldn’t do that he rode the mule into the restaurant. Granted, it’s not the strangest thing a person has ever done, but he did make it on the local news.
By 1967 Momo was pregnant with my dad and Gramps and Momo were still nowhere near to assimilating with American culture. You’d think seven years would do it, but they still barely spoke English.
Dad was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Now, the normal thing to do would be to name him “Patrick” or “Seamus” or something remotely Irish. But no. They named him Leprechaun. He has the birth certificate to prove it. The nurse had a heart attack when they told her and she ended up on a hospital bed next to Momo. Turns out Momo was something of an inspiration to young Nurse Judy and she went on to name her first daughter Pot-o’-Gold. (The kid committed suicide in eleventh grade after getting called Pot-o’-Weed all her life. I know because Nurse Judy sends Momo hate mail every week now explaining her life’s circumstances and why it’s all Momo’s fault for naming her stupid baby Leprechaun).
Leprechaun grew up, survived high school (barely), grew his hair down to his bellybutton, got a perm, and married Charlene Mulligan, who had a mullet and a pierced nipple on their wedding day. That was a wedding to remember. Leprechaun wore a poodle skirt and Charlene Mulligan wore pinstriped trousers. Five years after marriage, they had a baby boy, who they named Dan. I guess they wanted to make up for all their weirdness by having a normal son.
And yes, Dan would be me.
Leprechaun never believed in calling parents “Mom” and “Dad,” so he taught little baby Dan (moi) to call him Leprechaun, and my mother decided that she wanted me to call her Mumu (don’t ask me why). Gramps died over a decade ago when he rode a grocery cart off the end of a bridge but Momo’s still chugging along. She’s seventy years old and she eats a bowl of Fruit Loops and a Kit-Kat bar for breakfast every day.
And there you have it. My family history.
And in that mess of wackiness and weirdness, you have boring, ordinary me.
But you’re not reading this to hear about my boring, ordinary life. No, this isn’t even about me. This is about her. Yes, orange dreadlocks, purple lipsticks, rainbow-colored braces her.
To be continued . . .
(Yes, this is one of those crazy stories with those annoying “to be continued” thingies at the end)