Monday, October 5, 2009

You'd think I hang with the Mob

My host mom came back from honoring the dead in the graveyard this morning, shaking her head and wrinkling up her nose like she does whenever there’s a displeasure of some kind. We drank mate dulce together before I went to work, and these sessions are usually a good time for her to complain.

"La gente," she says. The people. All of Yataity is talking about the fight. From the cemetery all the way back was a line of people to complain about, talking badly about her sons friends, who are like family to her.

It was there at the cooperative, too. Everyone was gathered around the radio. No one said hi to me. I ignored whatever was clearly going on, kissed Mariela on the cheek and waited to hear what they were talking about. This was a program where they talk about the police report every monday. They were saying my friends' names, then, Age 25, single, like that. With this big ticket item on the list, people were calling in, sending in messages about how terrible it all was.

What do you do when people are talking about your friends? One of my coop friends was talking about the fight, and the way she snarled her lips at the mention of my other "criminal" friend hurt me. It was so ugly. I stayed blank. No one spoke directly to me. Of course, my name had probably come up earlier.

You'd think the moon had exploded, the way the topic was so excitedly and ubiquitously discussed. Everyone who came in the coop to pay their electric bill in the back talked about the fight, talked badly about my friends. That they were looking to fight, that they’re criminals, sin verguenza! On and on, all morning long.

My personal reputation is damaged already, probably, because I drink terere with them. Should I be concerned that this will affect my already-struggling work? I thought about this as I walked to the plaza, and passed a little boy with a realistic-looking toy gun in his hand.

I came back to Oscar’s house and they were all the, drinking terere inside though the weather was beautiful. “The problems,” I said as I put my bag down and looking at the brothers. “I’m surprised I’ve survived this long as your friend, the way people talk about you.”

They all laughed their silly laughs.

I wouldn't tell them who talked about them or what exactly people said, just that everyone was talking about them and saying lots of bad stuff.

We drank t-ray, laughed some more. Not once could I imagine any one of them actually hurting another person. I told them they'd f-ed up, but they were still my friends.

I thought about how the majority of gossip is to put labels on people: slutbag, jerk, good-for-nothing, etc. Reducing someone to just one word like that could possibly capture everything. It's not what Jesus did, he was right down in there with the slutbags, telling them it's alright, he still loves them. For a town that's so all about the J.C., I could use a little more forgiveness for my friends right now, those criminals I've come to love.

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