Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wicked Mennonite

Continued from Enlightened Mennonite

Sam explained in the letter that he didn’t write it because he was mad at me or anything. He wrote it because he wondered how I was doing and to tell me that he missed me, but he was happy with his new home, job and that he was still learning Spanish. He thought that I would find it funny if he wrote me a punctuation-less letter in Spanish and he was right.

The first time I went to the farmhouse to clean by myself, I spent more time listening for Jason and Roy to come home than cleaning and it took twice as long. It was an exhausting race to get it done before they actually came home. So the next time I took my Mexican tapes with me and listened to music instead.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I might be asked in Spanish if I were to go to Mexico. I practiced answering those questions in my head in Spanish. I thought I was doing well. I was able to answer all my question confidently, but only in my thoughts.

As midterms were fast approaching, I spent a lot of time with PJ in the cafeteria, studying for midterm exams. We compared notes and began talking about books. He was reading a book called “A Clockwork Orange”. I asked him all kinds of questions about it and he said, “When I am done reading it, you can read it if you want. But it might be too freaky for you.”

“Maybe, but I think like freaky books. The one we are reading in class is a bit freaky.”

“Really, what book is it?”

“Ahhh, this one,” I said and showed him the book I was reading. “One flew over the cuckoo's nest”.

“Okay, that’s a good book. I don’t know about it being freaky, though, but I guess different people think different things are freaky right? I mean it all depends on what you have experienced in life.”


“I also have the movie “A Clockwork Orange”. Would you like to borrow it? Or you could come to my place and watch it with me sometime.”

“There is a movie about that book?”


“Really, do you think there is a movie about ‘One flew over the cuckoo's nest’?”

“Yes, there is. I have seen it.”

“What? I need to see that one,” I said and he noticed how my face lit up as I got all excited about it. I had to do a book report on it and I was still really confused and couldn’t exactly comprehend what I was reading. I thought watching the movie would really help me a lot.

“Well, you can get it at the library.”

“I am going to get it. Thank you for telling me.”

“Wicked! So how about next week after our math exam, you want to come to my place and watch ‘A Clockwork Orange’?”

“Ahhh I think I so, unless the travel agent calls me to tell me that she has a ticket for me, then I will have to pack to go to Mexico.”

“Mexico? Wicked!”

“Umm, you take the city bus to school, right?”

“Yeah, only when it’s too cold to walk.”

“Does the bus stop anywhere near the library?”


“I don’t drive in the winter. Would you mind if I came on the bus with you? I have never taken that kind of city bus before.”

“Wicked! Awesome.”

“Okay,” I replied as I wondered if “wicked awesome” meant yes.

After we parted ways and I had some time to I think about our conversation. I got really nervous just even thinking about going to PJ’s place to watch a freaky movie. I wished with all my heart that the travel agent would call me during that week and tell me to pack my suitcase to go to Mexico. I needed a good excuse to say no because I really wanted to see that movie. I was so curious and wondered what could be so freaky about it. I thought what could be freakier than what I had already lived through.

At the end of my last class, I nervously looked for PJ and spotted him from a distance standing at the front entrance wearing his long black coat. His skin was as white as the snow on the ground. When I approached him, he smiled and said, “Wicked,” and we made our way to the bus stop.

People hadn't stared at me in a long time as much as they were when they saw me walking to the bus stop with him. And that’s when I secretly hoped that all the Mennonites that might recognize me had already gone back to Mexico. I really didn’t feel like explaining another rumor about me being seen with yet another breed of ‘schwien-noagel.’

Once we got on the bus he paid for me, gave me his bus schedule and explained to me how it worked. When we got to the library he pointed to the building where he lived.

“You see that red door right there?” he asked and pointed to the door.

“Okay, yes.”

“You go in there and take the stairs all the way up to door number 3 and that’s where I live.”

We stood in front of the library in the freezing cold as he explained where and what times I could catch the bus to go back to my apartment. He circled the bus number and all the times it would go in the direction to my apartment in a red pen and gave it to me.

“Good luck. See you tomorrow,” he said and walked to his apartment.

As I walked into my favorite place in the whole wide world, I thought I am going to take the bus here more often. After I stood there in awe of all the books for a good hour I asked the librarian if they had the movie “One flew over the cuckoo's nest” and she went to look for it. Sure enough, they had it there. I was so eager to watch it but I still didn’t have a VCR so I had to wait until I had a chance to watch it at one of my friend's places.

I was thrilled when I made it home to know that I had taken the right bus. When I checked my phone for messages, I had one and I got all excited that it would be from the travel agent, but it was from my cousin Izaak. He left a phone number for me to call him back.

I picked up the phone and called him back immediately.



“Yes. Anna! How are things with you?”

“Good. Great actually.”

“That’s great. Oye prima, (hey cousin) I just wanted to ask you if my car was still okay at your place. I thought you might have bought a car by now and need your parking spot back.” 

“NO! No, no. I am loving your car. It can stay.”

Orale, thanks.”

“No problem, so where are you right now?”

“In Texas.”


“Yeah, in Duncanville. I am living with uncle Jake for now. I love it here.”

“Okay, that’s great.”

“Yeah, I am going to Mexico with him for the holidays.”

“Wow, you are, do you know when you are leaving?”

“Uncle Jake booked three weeks off and we are leaving two weeks before Christmas. He has to be back to work the day after New Years.”

“Nice! I really want to go too but it’s really expensive to fly down.”

“Really, are you sure you want to go home? What if they try to force you to stay?”

“I know, I have thought about that a lot. But I think I have learned how to handle that and if I needed help, you would help me right?”

“You bet, I would.”

“Thanks, I’m still trying to figure out a way to go, we’ll see what happens.”

Oye prima, in that case, if you have a way to get here to Duncanville you could come with us.”

“That would be great but I can't go that early because I have midterm exams until a week before Christmas.”

Pues, que lastima. (Well, that’s too bad.)”

“Yeah, well have fun in Mexico and say hi to everybody if I don’t make it down.”

“Okay, I will. Take care Anna.”

After I hung up the phone I thought long and hard about ways I could go to Mexico. I got all excited as I thought up an idea. I thought Izaak is going to Mexico! This is good I will have one friend in the colony that still likes me. If I go and realize it was the wrong decision, I can just hang out with him and his Mexa (Native Mexican) friends until I come back. 

Uncle Jake moved to Texas shortly after his father passed away when he was a teenager. He is my dad’s youngest brother. He never married and he always came to Mexico each year for Christmas. He owned the property next to my parents’ in the colony. One year when he visited, he hired people to build him a house on it and that’s where he stayed every year when he came to Mexico for a visit. And since he didn’t have a family he often came to our house to eat. He was a head mechanic at an auto shop in Texas and he also had a house in Texas that he had to make payments on.

I figured if I could fly to Mexico and then catch a ride back to Texas with uncle Jake and Izaak, that would be a guaranteed ride to Texas at least. And it should be cheaper to fly back to Canada from Texas than Mexico because it’s only half the distance.

I tucked that idea into the back of my mind and continued with my routine. School was getting stressful because I had many major projects due as the week of midterm exams was approaching. There was so much snow on the ground and it was freezing cold.

I decided to call the travel agent and tell her about my idea, to see what she would say to that. After I explained it to her she said, “I will look into it and call you back okay.”

“Okay, thank you,” I said and called George right after I finished talking to the travel agent.


“Hey, George. What are you doing on the weekend?”

“Ummm, the same as always, spending time alone and being bored out of my freaking mind. Why what's up?”

“Ahhh can I use you for your VCR?”

“Absolutely! Anna, you can use me for whatever you want.”

“Okay,” I said and then there was an awkward silent moment.

“What are we watching?”

“One flew over the cuckoo's nest.”

“Sounds great. I’m looking forward to it.”

On Saturday afternoon I grabbed the movie and happily skipped down the hallway over to George’s apartment. After watching the movie I was so grateful that my nerve problems were manageable with meaning and purpose, unlike some of the people in the movie. George gave me some ideas on how to write the book report. I finished writing the book report and all my other projects by Sunday night.

There was only a week and a half left before Christmas and I still hadn't heard anything back from the travel agent. I was beginning to give up hope on the idea of going home.

I went to school with no legitimate excuse to say no to go to PJ’s place to watch the freaky movie with him. As the day went on I talked myself into going, keeping in mind that George told me that not every man I met would take advantage of me. And I still had that whistle that Josh gave me, in my purse. I could always pull it out if I needed to. When we finished the math exam, I told PJ that I could go to his place to watch the movie.

When he said, “Wicked! Let's go,” my heart started pounding out of my chest as we walked to the bus stop. When we got to his apartment, he invited me to sit down on his all black sofa in his all black living room. I felt incredibly strange. While he went to the bathroom, I looked out the window and when I saw a huge cross on top of a church across the street, I thought, “Oba Anna what are you getting yourself into now?” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Enlightened Mennonite

Continued from Illusionary Mennonite

“I know, I miss you too.”

“What are you doing, are you busy, can you come over right now?”

“Ahhh no, I'm not busy right now. Okay, I’ll be there soon.”

After I hung up the phone, I realized that this time I might not be able to talk my way around my plan to pretend that I was lesbian without telling George the truth about Aaron and thought, “I really hope I don’t have to explain it to him. It's just too complicated for me to even attempt to put it into words.”

I quickly changed my clothes and ran down the hallway to George’s apartment. He greeted me with his usual perfect smile and a long comforting hug. It smelled so good and familiar in his apartment.

“It smells amazing in here. What are you making?”

“Okay, let's see if I can actually tell you. Um, I am making roasted chile poblano and chicken quesadillas with pineapple salsa.”

“Wow! You are roasting peppers, how? Don’t you need an open flame to do that?”

“Not necessarily. It works great with a cast iron pan. See look it says right here in this ‘Learn how to cook Mexican’ cookbook I picked up at the library.”


“Isn’t it? Can you believe it? Me, the same guy who cooks Mr. Noodles with hotdog slices and cheese wiz, is learning how to cook Mexican food from a library book.”

“Um yeah, I can. The library is amazing. I wish I could live there.”

“So, how the heck are you? I haven't seen you in so long. I got worried a few times and wanted to visit you but I know that you were probably out there meeting new friends and figuring it all out by yourself,” he said as he brought the food to the coffee table.

“Well, you are right, I have been meeting now friends and figuring some stuff out on my own. Sort of.”

We sat down on the gray pillows at the coffee table in his living room, just like the last time I ate there. He put down the forks and waited for me to say my prayer and held his breath as he watched me take the first bite.

Ay caramba, George, are these ever spicy. This is amazing! Thank you.”

He let out a big sigh of relief, “Is it even close to Mexican?”

“Yes! It sure is. It’s great, I love it.”

“Awesome! So what kind of food do you make that isn't Mexican? I mean you must make some German dishes too. What kind of other foods do your people eat?”

“Well, tweeback would be one of them. You know the one you ate at my place when you came over the time I was wearing my favorite ‘purple dress.’”

“Oh yes, I do remember that time. Oh man, what a day that was, the food you made was delicious,” he said and I turned red all over, as we both laughed about again.

“Well, a lot of the German food that we make is mostly things made of white flour and heavy cream. Like this one recipe my mom calls ‘doompwuchlen.’ You make the tweeback and let them rise, then you steam them with a little bit of oil so they don’t stick together and serve them with schmoont fat, which is heavy cream that you bring to a boil with a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.”

“Wow, how nutritious. Would you eat anything else with it?”

“Sometimes, smoked meat or sausage.”


“So, what have you been doing other than learning how to cook Mexican food?”

“Not much, I am really enjoying some peace, you know away from all the grumpiness at the factory, and I have had more time to draw, which I am enjoying a lot.”

“Yeah, I know. I was so sad for a while but I am realizing now that having this extra time is actually really nice for me too.”

“So, who are these new friends you met?” He asked and my heart started pounding faster as I tried to explain it to him.

“Um… so her name is Tony. I met her in computer class, you know the class where I learned that the world might be ending soon.”

“Yes, you don’t really believe that. Do you?”

“Well, I have learned so much here in Canada. I'm not even sure what I believe. But all this talk about the world ending has made me realize that I think it's time for me to go home to Mexico for a visit.”

“Okay, do you think that you are ready for that?” he asked as he got up, picked our plates up and took them to the kitchen sink.

“Yes, I think I am, but I am really nervous about it.”

He came back with two plates of dessert and the placed them on the table. I looked at the dessert and immediately regretted it as I heard myself say it out loud.

“Yes! No watermelon.”

He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Anna, I am your friend. I know better than to feed you watermelon,” and winked at me.

I turned all red as the butterflies began dancing around in my stomach. I thought, “Quick, change the subject Anna!” and asked, “So what is this then?”

“Cherry cheesecake.”

“Did you make this too?”

“No. I can't take the credit for this. I bought it already made. Would you like a coffee?”

“Yes, please. Wait there is cheese in this cake?”

“Yes, cream cheese.”

“Wow, I have never had cake with cheese in it before.”

“Well, I hope you like it. I happen to love cheesecake,” he said as he put my coffee down in front of me. He sat down and stared at me with one eyebrow raised as I took the first bite.

“So, what do you think?”

“It’s different, but I like it.”

“Awesome! So have you figured out how you will go to Mexico?”

“Well, that’s the thing, I know I can't go with someone because then I wouldn't have a guaranteed ride back. So I called the travel agency but it's crazy expensive to fly to Mexico but then I told Josh about it and he suggested that I call back and ask to be put on a last minute ticket sale list, so I did.”

“That’s a great idea. I really hope that works out for you.”

“Yeah, me too. I think it just might because I think I have found a way to make some extra money.”

“Okay, that’s great but how?”

“Tony, the woman that sits next to me in computer class offered me her cleaning job.”

“Okay, were?”

“It’s a farmhouse just outside of town here.”

“Oh, and how much will they pay you to clean it?”

“I would clean it once a week and it pays forty dollars a cleaning.”

“Okay, not bad. Not bad at all.”

“Yeah, but there's this problem, its two single guys that live there and you know...”

“Ahhh… shit yeah I know. But not all single men you meet will take advantage of you, you know.”

“I am trying to think like that, but I can't help but worry and wonder if they might be like Mark or Aaron?”

“Well, you won't know until you meet them, right?”

“You're right and that is a big part of the reason I need to go back to home to Mexico.” I said as I thought, “you don’t know the half of it,” and started mumbling and asking him questions so the conversation would lead in a different direction because I didn’t really want to explain my plan or the truth about why I was so afraid of Aaron.

He put down his fork and placed his hand on top of mine and said, “Anna, it's okay, you don’t have to tell me about the Mexican cowboy. I have a pretty good idea of what is going on. Just know that I am here if you ever need to talk about it,” and squeezed my hand as he looked right at me.

I didn’t know where to look or if the feeling that went all the way down to the tip of my toe was a feeling of relief or nervousness. Or that a man like George was real and I was at his place having dinner with him. 

I peacefully enjoyed the rest of our time together as I felt relieved knowing that I was in a safe place and that I didn’t have to do or say anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. That night I didn't flee from his apartment like the jriese diesta was chasing me. When I was ready to go, he walked me to the door and I hugged him. I said thank you and walked out of there looking back to wave bye to him a few times. I saw him standing in the doorway smiling and waving back at me as I walked away. I thought, “this is so much better, I can’t believe he is still my friend after all those time I ran away like that,” and felt really embarrassed about it.

Josh came with and helped me get a passport without a hitch. I was ready to go to Mexico. All I had to do now was to be brave and go to that house with Tony and lie to these men so I would feel safe cleaning their house to make some extra money for my trip home. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about it but when the day finally arrived, Tony and I went ahead with our plan.

Tony came to school on the Friday with a bottle of Pine Sol in her backpack. We drove to this farmhouse and she introduced me to the men as her new girlfriend. Jason and Roy didn’t even seem to care. They were just happy that someone was willing to clean their house. I could see why, when I first walked in and helped Tony clean it. Before it smelled like a Pine Sol bomb when off in there. It was a disaster. I had never seen a house that messy before.

They paid us and gave me a key to the house and said, “Thank you, Anna, it’s really nice to meet you. We will always leave the money on the counter for you every Friday so you don’t have to wait for us to come home when you are done the cleaning,” Jason said and just like that, I had a new job that I could do with less fear and more confidence.

My new life was great. I sat beside a great friend in every class, including my longtime buddy and note taker Steve in English class. I had made friends with yet another scary man that I was afraid of, PJ, the man that sat beside me in math class. His answer to everything was ‘wicked.’ He dressed only in black, wore black nail polish, and had a really tall mohawk. I had learned to appreciate his uniqueness because he was nothing but respectful and kind to me.

I had two imaginary boyfriends: One for real (Josh) and the other (George) in case I might meet another stalker and then I could say that I was not available. And I had an imaginary girlfriend so I would be off-limits altogether and didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I had a regular routine again, with so much homework, studying for tests, writing essays and cleaning that house every Friday. I had forgotten that I missed my factory job. That was until I received a letter in the mail from Sam.

My heart was pounding out of my chest with wonder as tore that letter open. It didn’t take long and I was on the floor in tears with laughter. It was a punctuation-less letter written in Spanish. Sam’s letter triggered me to remember the factory, Hilary and all of the policemen that worked on my stalker case. And then I had a lightbulb moment. I realized how many incredibly amazing men I had met since my journey in Canada began.

I laid on the floor and cried when I realized the George was right yet again. Click here to continue reading my story.

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