At every party I sit in the back.

Once in a while, I do that cholo two-step thing with one of my cousins or some ruca that feels sorry for me. I lift my big panza up off whatever chair is about to break under my weight, listen to it groan, then shuffle off to pull my fists together and slowly, clumsy as a bear, move my feet. I hate those dances. I really do. Everyone thinks that’s all us vatos know how to do. That two-step. Nah man…we all grew up with salsa, cumbia, and more. My abuleos danced valses, polka and even the tango. That makes me stop thinking about food for a minute and smile…just remembering them. How they used to cut a rug when a certain bolero came on, my abuelo bowing to my abuela and her blushing like a young girl, then taking off her apron and putting her tiny hand in his. Off they would go, in great sweeping steps, my abuela light on her feet like a fairy princess and my abuelo – dashing and strong. I miss them.

I hate that I’m fat, but I can’t seem to stop eating.

The vatos – they cool. They call me Panzon out of love, not disrespect like the fuckers at school; either that or Little Payaso. Those assholes…well to hell with them. They make pig noises and imitate how I walk. Now my ma, she wants to throw my sister Trini a quincienera and I gotta be one of the dudes in a tux. Which means I gotta partner some ruca who ain’t gonna wanna be stuck with me and I gotta dance. Worse – I gotta be fitted for a fucking tux. Great. Just fucking great. Well, I guess I will live up to my name – Little Payaso. Dopey gave me that name a while back. Said if fuckers were going to be making fun, let me get to it first. Like a big, fat fuck you. So Little Payaso I am even though I sure the fuck ain’t little and I ain’t no one’s clown. Or at least not till I’m a fucking chambelan in Trini’s quince.

Something strange is happening in the hood.

First we had aliens and beat them down, then a ghost in car and now I’m tripping. Seeing shit that ain’t there. What the hell? I ain’t smoked nada. I ain’t like that…some vatos like the homie down the street lives in a cloud of weed, another one sniffs paint. Nah, chale – not for me, give me a taco, dripping with hot grease and salsa and that’s all the drug I need.

Just last night I was stressing this quince and thinking about the beautiful ruca from the Tiny Winas, the one with the long black hair. She’s firme, man. Firme. Her name is Liz and they call her La Giggles because she is always laughing. I wouldn’t mind being her chambelan if I didn’t weigh 350 pounds. Anywayz…back to what I was saying before I got distracted by the beautiful Liz. I was sitting on the old recliner of my heffa’s and watching a Cantinflas movie here at the canton and I think I must have dozed off or something because damned if Cantinflas wasn’t showing me how to do a proper cumbia. I blinked and shit, but the vato was still there, all loose like ule and yelling at me to follow his steps. Crazy, man – just crazy shit. What’s even crazier is that I woke up and I felt like rubber, man. Like I somehow sucked up old Cantiflas and my legs just wanted to go all crazy.

Just now, sitting here eating some of my mom’s chocoflan, I heard some music. Cumbia music. Like…wait a minute it’s…holy fuck!

This shit is a dream. Gotta be. Cuz here I am on the floor where I think I fainted and Celia Cruz is kicking me in the panza and telling me to get my ass up and dance with her. Every time she opens her mouth she shouts “tumbao” and my fat legs are twitching. Fuck it, I’m just gonna get into this crazy dream and see what happens but I’d better get up because those yellow shoes of hers hurt worse than my mom’s tacones. Goddamn! Stop kicking me Celia Dreamwoman Cruz!

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About Gina Ruiz

Teller of tales, writing about East L.A., tech, mobile, and historical fiction. PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship finalist 2013. Author of stories in Ban This! and Lowriting. Published poet. Writes a lot.