I was so excited; I would be able to wear a brand new dress for my 5th grade culmination. That’s what they called it a culmination not graduation. It did not matter, I was going to speak since I was being awarded the Vice-Principal’s award and my mom surprised me by saying we were going shopping for a dress.
“We’re leaving in an hour; make sure your room, the bathroom, and kitchen is clean before we leave.” I ran to my room and made sure everything was in place and changed out of my uniform into a pair of white jeans and t-shirt. I washed the dishes and ran around in a whirlwind of excited energy as I imagined what I would get to wear.
Maybe I would find a fancy black dress, simple and fitting so that I looked elegant giving my speech. I could squeeze into my sister’s heels and I would look great! Marla and Kandy would look at me with approval and I would smile slightly as if to show I always dressed that way outside of school…
I heard the engine running and my mom call out, “if you’re not out here in five minutes I’m leaving.” I had to pee but I ignored the urge and dashed out the door and onto the car and we sped away in our white 1984 Jimmy GM. I liked that car, with its red interior, brandishing the same year I was born. My sis and I worked hard to keep it clean both inside and out so that it looked almost new.
We went down Brooklyn Ave (now Cesar Chavez) and stopped at the BofA on Breed St. The line stretched out the door and there was no bathroom in sight. When we finally left and crossed the street to the fashion store I thought I would die and pee my pants. My mother kept passing me ugly dresses to try on that were too big on me but she figured they would last long.
As I was taking off a gray and black jumper that I hated, I felt the painful urge to pee. As my mother kept yelling at me in front of the other customers and the excitement of the new dress long ago dead, I felt a river of urine flow from my legs and over my white jeans and dress. I couldn’t believe it! I stared down in horror as hot tears streamed down my cheeks. I managed to whimper what had happened and I could see that the Japanese store owner felt bad that he hadn’t allowed me to use his bathroom. My mother yelled at me and slapped me hard complaining that she would have to buy the dress now and a slew of insults flew out of her mouth as she pushed me out the door and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to ride home in the car. “Vete caminando! Haber si la verguenza te quita lo pendejo!”
I tried not to cry and wiped away the tears. As I waited for the light to turn green a woman, a Jehovah’s Witness, placed her hand on my arm and asked if I was okay. I was horrified that anyone would notice the yellow stains on my already tattered jeans and I shook my head and ran off as the cars came to a stop. I walked home in the dark and hated myself for being so stupid, so ugly, and worthless. How could I have done such a thing? I was ten years old and I had piss all over my jeans – making me shiver in the cold. I ran past the veteranos on Breed St, turned the corner on Malabar and ignored the catcalls of the fat old men trying to give me a ride. I contemplated not going back home and walking until my legs buckled under me and my heart gave out and my body could finally lie down in peace forever.
As my self-tormenting and wishful thinking came to an end I was back on Forest Ave walking down to the peach stucco house with my father’s figure leaning on the chain link gate. As I walked closer he opened the door and looked at me with sadness in his eyes; I could feel the tears edging on my eyes and the ball of emotion rising in my throat but I looked away and went to shower. By the time I got out everyone had gone to bed and I gingerly took my dress out of the plastic bag and washed it by hand and laid it out to dry. At least some stains come off with a little soap and water.