PLUNK GENEALOGY -- see "Family" label on this blog and/or write Mike at

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Language Barrier

When I accepted a new position and moved from Little Rock to California in 1985, one of the first people I met was Faye who held the top administrative/clerical position in the organization and probably knew everything about everything. She immediately took me under her wing (she later said I looked like a lost waif) and told me who to sit with, where to go, and what to do when I got there. She eased me into the organization so that I could succeed at my job. We became friends, started doing things socially, and she became my surrogate mom – a fact acknowledged by my Mother. Faye was classy, cultured, well traveled, and a bit bawdy. A lot of an Auntie Mame. Just my kind of lady.

This episode, however, took place with another friend of ours, Esperanza. Despite her fair skin and red hair, Espie hailed from Mexico and was the official, highly educated translator for our organization. On a particular afternoon, Esperanza took Faye with her to visit a Mexican friend of hers who also lived in Southern California.

The Lady, although diminuitive, made an immediate and strong impression. Her silver hair was neatly pinned into a bun at the nape of her neck. Her gentle frock was clasped at the neck, and a lace shawl draped over her slender shoulders. Although she only spoke Spanish and Faye only spoke English, The Lady made Faye feel welcome as she served tea to her guests. Esperanza, as the only bilingual person in the room, graciously included both the other women in the conversation.

Faye had a lovely visit and was enchanted with the obviously high-born lady with whom they’d been visiting. As they said farewells, Faye strained to remember some loving word in Spanish to convey her feelings as she gave The Lady kisses on both cheeks. Remembering the endearing term that Esperanza used for her only son, Faye embraced The Lady and murmured “mi cabroncita.”

The Lady’s eyes widened. Her mouth dropped momentarily. But she regained her composure, embraced Faye and said good-bye. Only as they were leaving did Faye notice that Esperanza’s eyes were dilated and wide open and that her face was flushed.

As they exited, and the door was closed, Esperanza exclaimed, “WHAT were you thinking?!” Bewildered, Faye replied, “But that’s what you call your son.”

Wellll, Esperanza’s only son was a ne’er-do-well. He still lived in Mexico and was never as attentive or supportive to his mom as we friends thought he should be. Additionally, he’d fathered a “few” children without benefit of wedlock to any of their mothers and was not held in high regard in our circle.

His mother adored him.

But she also, reluctantly, recognized his foibles. “Mi cabroncito” means “my little shit.”

And that’s what dear Faye had just called The Lady. It was a Life as Lucy Ricardo moment if ever there was one.


Marcy said...

Wow, I remember you telling me about Faye and I've seen this picture before. Seeing it here again reminds me of her powerful presence that I remember feeling just by looking at her! A real angel. Thanks for sharing! She was soooo beautiful!

Scarlett said...

Thank you. I knew that you, of all people, would see into her heart. She was one of the most beautiful women I've ever known. As are you.