I would sneak past the dog on the chain and hope his choking didn't wake my mother as I got into the trailerhouse where we lived, but sometimes even if the dog's growling and gurgling didn't wake her up she'd be laying there on the sofa watching soap operas, her hair in curlers, and she'd be popping bon-bons while she watched General Hospital on the flickering black and white t.v. with the coat hanger antenna pulling in the trials and tribulations of the better-off. "Hey you, " she'd yell if she spotted me, "what're you doing in here? Why ain't you at school studying to be a doctor like these here folks on the t.v.?"
I cringe even now when I think of the wasted life I've lived, me not pursuing a career as a doctor.
Ma would yell out, "Lookee there, you ain't done no dishes for a week. Lookee there!" I knew when she said it that if I'd been smarter or better looking I could be a doctor and I'd never have to look at dishes in the sink again. I could eat in restaurants every meal and have Puerto Ricans wash up after me. I'd tell ma I was working hard at my rithmatic sos I could be a doctor and then she'd relax and go back to watching the future she had planned for me. Her son, the doctor, screwing all the low-life nurses and gittin into trouble with married ladies and such. She had my interests at heart, I'm sure. "An roll some o' them tires outta the yard inta the ditch. Place looks like a gawd dam junk yard!"
I never did make it into medical school. I went to university, even for a short time in Jordan where I found I just don't have the mind for wiring and propane tanks and that kind of mechanical stuff. So, yes, I failed my audition in Hollywood. I was good enough at chasing girls, and I looked just right in a lab coat; but it was the driving skills that had me. I could never find the airport. I kept crashing the Mercedes into the first lamppost I came to, not being able to get anywhere near a night club. But the worst of it was, and this is the reason I failed not just ma and myself but the whole point of living, I could never get that Koranic stuff.
Ma died of a broken heart cause I didn't become a doctor. Every year I go out to Potter's Field and pour a couple bottles of Cream Soda on her spot, and I tell her how sorry I am I didn't get the job on the soap opera. She's so angry even all the grass is dead around her spot. I coulda faked all that other stuff, but it was that Koran stuff that sunk me. I just never did get it. It puzzles me big time.