Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Mennonite Makeover


Continued from Misguided Mennonite

I gave George a relieved smile as I said, “Christina! Hey, how are you?” and he threw his head back as he let out a big, loud, manly sigh of relief sound. He got up and whispered, “I’m gonna go, I’ll talk to you later, Anna.”

I nodded my head and waved to him while he walked out the door and continued talking to Christina.

“Oh, I’m surviving. How are you?”

“Ahhh… I’m not sure. Actually, I am nervous as heck, scared to death and freaking out on the inside. I just got served, do you know what that means?”

“What! You got served? Yes! I do know what that means. Oh, Anna, I’m sorry you have to go through all of this.”

“Thanks! George was here when I got the papers. He read them to me and helped me understand what I have to do.”

“Thank GOD for George, he’s the best.”

“I know! What would I do without George?”

“Oh, crap, Anna. I wouldn’t even go there if I were you.”

“Ah… no, let’s not.”

“Do you have any plans for tomorrow night? There’s this party happening just down the street from your apartment, you want to come with me?”

“Yes, I would love too, thanks for inviting me.”

“Awesome, Anna. See you tomorrow night, then.”

I decided I would go to the party and see for myself what a New Year’s party would all be about. I had never been to one before. I was curious and anxious to experience one. I thought it would help distract me from overthinking the court date that was fast approaching and leaving a nauseous feeling in my stomach.

I thought I would just double-check to make sure that I was fully understanding the meaning of the word “subpoena” by looking it up in the dictionary. I also looked up “homosexuality” and learned the word “lesbian.” I spent hours looking up words in the dictionary until I couldn’t stand it anymore and had thoughts of burning the thing.

That’s when I knew it was time to do something else.

It was the longest night ever. I was so tempted to go visit George, but I figured he probably needed a break from all the chaos I put him through after his visit a few hours earlier.

I sat on my comfy reading blanket chair, watched the Latin TV channel, and thought about that dictionary the whole time. Finally, I just picked it up again and started making notes on Spanish words that I didn’t understand.

There was nothing else I could think of doing, other than looking up words in the dictionary or visiting George. I couldn’t just sit there and watch TV -- I felt I had way too much to learn to be wasting my time like that.

I convinced myself that if I turned watching TV into learning, then it wasn't really a waste of my time. And I wanted to learn as much Spanish as I could while I was learning everything else, in case I ever had to go back to Mexico by myself.

“It’s getting really late, Anna. Don’t fight it.” George and I were on the boat drifting toward Posen Land again. He tilted my chin up so I had to look him in his eyes as he asked, “¿Quieres besarme? (Do you want to kiss me?) Anna, I could feel the way you were staring at my lips earlier.”

I leaned in closer to him as I heard my fula’s (grandfather’s) voice echoing from a far distance getting louder and louder, “Schmock senn, Anna (Be good, Anna.) Why do you keep coming back here? The peanuts you are looking for are not here. Go look on the other side.”

“Anna… ANNA! Over here,” another voice shouted. I looked over and there was Bree. She was leaning against the edge of the boat with her legs crossed, one arm crossed over her stomach with her elbow resting on her hip holding a cigarette in her hand, “You heard your grandfather say Go look on the other side. It’s because you are a lesbian, Anna. Lesbian.”

“Don’t let her confuse you, Anna. Bésame así despacito (kiss me slowly),” said George. Then I woke up to Marco Antonio Solis’s song La Venia Bendita blasting on the Latin TV channel. The channel was showing the countdown of best songs of the year.

I sat up and thought, “Ha li kringil! (Holy twisty bun!)”

After I woke up all the way and had a moment to think about my dream, I picked up a pillow and screamed into it with frustration. It was a vicious cycle of my thoughts causing dreams and dreams causing thoughts. It was making me crazy. It was finally New Year’s Eve and I started counting the minutes until I had to get ready for the party.

I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over so I could go back to school. I still had five days to get through before school started up again. I decided I needed to put all of my books down and go do something else to get out of my head. I called Christina and ask her if she would come shopping with me.

She said sure, if I didn’t mind going with her to the salon to get a haircut, colour and her eyebrows waxed.

When we got to the salon, a man jumped out of his chair when he saw Cristina, hugged her, and asked how she was doing, with a sad, tilted, face.

She said, “Oh, I’m surviving. My mother threatened me to come and see you, so here I am. I brought a friend with, her name is Anna,” and she introduced us. His name was Scott.

“Your mom is awesome, I’m so glad she forced you to visit me. It's really nice to meet you, Anna, happy New Year. Would you like a haircut, too?” Scott asked.

“Oh, no thanks, I really shouldn’t,” I answered.

He looked at Christina with a confused look while she shook her head at him.

I fought the sudden creeping temptation to get a haircut. To try and distract myself from the idea I sat down and looked through magazines. They were filled with women with beautiful hair, wearing dresses that resembled my purple satin nightgown “dress.” I got embarrassed all over again as I remembered George telling me that it wasn't a dress.

Looking at those magazines made me feel so plain and dull and it wasn't helping me at all. It just increased my desire to change the way I looked.

Christina came and sat down beside me while her hair colour was developing. Christina and I were the only customers at the salon. Scott came, sat down beside me, and said, “I hope you don’t mind, Christina tells me that you have never had a haircut. If you like I could give you a trim, wash, blow-dry and style for the party you are going to tonight. It will be on me since it's your first time.”

He had me at you have never had a haircut. I was ready and nervously excited to surrender my head to him.

“Okay, yes! thank you, Scott.”

He said, “Great, follow me this way.”

I gave Christina a scared oh no, what am I doing look as I followed Scott to the back of the salon. She said, “Don’t worry! You are in good hands, Anna.”

It was the strangest feeling, to have not only a man wash my hair, but a complete stranger at that. I tried really hard to fight it but I dozed off a few time while he washed, cut, dried and styled my hair. Other than getting a foot rub and my hair braided by George, It was the most relaxing experience.

I hardly recognised myself when I looked in the mirror. For most of my life, my hair had been flat against my head, pinned up in a hairnet, in braids, or in a bun. Now it was fluffy, flowy, wavy and I loved it.

“Holy shit, Anna -- where have you been hiding all that hair? Wow, you look amazing,” said Christina.

“Thanks, I love it too. Thank you, Scott. I don’t know how you did it but I love it!” Those were the only English words I could think of at that moment. I followed Christina when she went to the back to get her eyebrows waxed and decided that I wasn't ready for that. I didn’t know if I would ever be.

I felt like a brand new woman walking around in the mall with my new hair, wishing that I was a new woman. A woman who wouldn’t have to go to court and face her stalker. I thought, “Well, at least I am a woman who finally knows how to correctly swear in court, thanks to George.”

That thought brought a smile back to my face as we went into a store where Christina and I each tried about ten dresses on. Christina chose a short, low-cut, sparkly silver dress. I thought I wanted to be sexy like Christina, so I chose a short low-cut green sparkly dress that looked very similar to the one she picked.


“If you are going to wear that dress, you will need a push-up bra, Anna. I know the perfect place to buy one,” Christina said. 

I turned all red as I admired her for being able to say the word “bra” with such confidence and not a single bit of embarrassment. Stoff brell (bra) was another word that we would only say if we absolutely had to and with incredible shame and embarrassment. Stoff brell translates to “dust goggles.” A word like that was way too sexy to be said out loud anywhere near the dusty Mennonite colonies in Mexico.

“A push-up ah…?” I asked as I giggled. I just couldn’t say it out loud.

“You’ll know what I mean when you put one on,” she said, and off I went, following her nervously to the next store. I momentarily hoped that I wouldn’t run into someone who might recognise me and report to the colonies in Mexico that I was seen in a stoff brell store in Canada. Oh, the shame my family would have to endure.

“Okay, what size are you Anna? And I will help you find your size.”

“Ah… I don’t know.” I answered.

“What! You don’t know what size you are? Okay, I will guess.” She picked two sizes for me and said, “Here, go try these on with your dress.”

I had never tried on a bra at a store before. In the colony when the mother thought it was time for her daughter to start wearing a bra, she would give her one in secret and she would just start wearing it, whether it fit or not. You wouldn’t ask any questions or talk about it.

As we got older we would go to a store in town and buy a new bra once in a while, but we wouldn’t try it on. We would guess the size and then oba Dios mio shita! To face the person and look at them when it was time to pay for it. Especially when a good-looking native Mexican man was working at the till. The shame, I don’t know how our people have survived all these years.

I quickly grabbed them so no one would see me and went to the change room and tried one on and said, “WOW, you were right Christina. Now I know why this is a push-up um… ha… wow,” and giggled.

“I know, they are marvellous, eh?” She answered.

When I saw the price tag I almost fell over, but Christina explained to me that all the bras were on sale for half price. That changed everything and I just had to buy it.

When it was time to pay, it happened. My heart started pounding when a man cashier waved us over and said, “I can help you ladies over here.” I looked anywhere but his face as he rang it through. I was shaking when I handed him the money and grabbed the receipt. I heard him laugh as he said, “Happy New Year, and have a lovely day.”

I didn’t say anything back to him, I just grabbed my bag and started walking. I couldn’t get out of there fast enoughClick here to continue reading my story.

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