Honey, We Need To Talk
For fourteen years the date had been circled on the mental calendars of Esteban and Stella Flores. Next year would be Consuela’s quinceañera. A month after their daughter’s birth they put a wrinkled dollar-bill in the ceramic rooster cookie jar on the top shelf of their bedroom closet. Most months thereafter they had saved something, adding to the funds now kept in The Santo Bank for her celebration.
Monday, Stella would schedule the thanksgiving Mass at the Catholic Church, reserve a banquet hall and attend to the early details.
With the help of aunts, uncles, god parents and special friends, it would be a splendid event. Praise God, Latino family knew helping was expected and counted it a joy. Someone would make the huge multi-layered cake; others prepare the festive meal and help financially with the many expenses. Stella’s call would be welcomed and expected. Consuela’s coming of age party on her fifteenth birthday would be magnificent.
* * * * * *
“Consuela, I don’t want to hear it. You are having a quinceañera!” Stella exclaimed.
“Call me Connie, Mama. All my friends do.”
“Well, Miss Connie, you are coming of age. Get your head screwed on straight right now.”
“Mama, I don’t care about the Hispanic way and tradition. I was born in Texas, remember? You and Papa seldom go to church anymore. I can’t see having the priest bless the tiara and all that other stuff.”
Stella pointed her forefinger at Connie. “Hush, Consuela. The tiara means you are a princess of the church under God. Everything you have is dedicated to Him. Your grandmothers will tell you, it is a ceremony you will never forget.”
Connie blinked, holding back tears. “Mama, I appreciate it. I really do. I know riding in a big limo and wearing a beautiful pastel gown would be neat. And having a party with family and friends would be fun. But, Mama isn’t it supposed to be my special day?”
“Of course, Connie. It will be.”
“If you want to honor me, Mama, let me use the money for the quinceañera to go to Mexico with my best friend, Lexy” Connie begged.
“Well….. uh, a trip or a cruise can be a part of a quinceañera. It often is if that is what the quince wants. We will just have to come up with the money. If that is….”
“No, Mama. I want to skip the party. I have been going to church on Wednesday nights with Lexy. A group of young people and sponsors from her church are going to Mexico next summer to build a cottage for orphans. I saw a video of the kids at the orphanage. It would mean everything to me to use the quinceañera money to go and help those poor children.”
“Oh, Connie” her mother said, hugging her close, “that is a wonderful thing you want to do.” Stella wiped a tear escaping down her cheek with the back of her hand.
“Your grandparents would never understand.” Stella said, shaking her head. “Your father told me to hire someone to film everything. He especially wants a video of his kneeling before you to remove your slippers; when he takes the high heels from the pillow and puts them on your feet. It means you are no longer a little girl, that you have become a woman.
“He wants to practice the waltz, so he can be ready to dance with you. He thinks these will be the most significant moments of all. Can you deny him that?”
“Ugh! The waltz. I forgot about that tradition. Mariachi is okay. Hip-hop would be better. I can go for that.”
“Then, we have a deal?” Stella asked hopefully, crossing her fingers behind her back.
“Mama, can we make it a small Sweet Sixteen party? And let me go to Mexico with some of the money next year? Lots of families are doing the Sweet Sixteen instead of Quinceañera. Please! Please!” Connie begged, kneeling before her mother with hands clasped prayerfully to her lips.
Stella thought before speaking slowly, “No promises, little one. I’ll talk to your father. It would give more time to pay for everything. He could still put your high heels on. Hmmm.” Stella laughed, “It will take two years to teach that man how to waltz …”
Connie jumped to her feet, dark eyes sparkling, throwing her arms around her mother. “Thanks! Mama.”
“Not yet, little girl. Not yet.”
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