Mami’s Gone, Let’s Ditch the Babysitter
rosie the robot
While Mami works the hotel rooms, Susana, la vecina and our babysitter, talks mad shit, says Dad doesn’t pay child support because of what a banshee Mami’s become, says Mami doesn’t know how to Mami, “Look at how she doesn’t even comb your pelitos,” “Look at how she lets you paints your fingernails like a girl,” “Look at how you can still see the dirt under your nails como un cochino,” says Mami is built like a garbage dumpster and how she and I need to stop eating and talking all that junk.
I tell Susana her face and hairdo are como un Chow Chow, and her face snarls and she bares her teeth, proving me right, and she yells for me to get out of her house. On all fours, I bark at her, pant, and skedaddle.
I don’t tell Mami because she has enough to be mad about and plus I want my eleven-year-old freedom. Nobody notices when I stop going over and Gull starts coming over.
Like Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown, my buddy Gull slouches everywhere covered in grease, Dorito crumbs, and probably piojos. He smells like socks. Gull’s his name because of an eye that wanders around birdlike. He strays the streets like the holy callejeras of La Virgen de Guadalupe Avenue. Swishing them bird hips. I want that type of freedom: to be a gull.
On the nights Mami has no mornings to wake up for, she brags about her body to the phone.
“I’ve got that Coca Cola bottle shape,” she whispers to a man, who is not Dad, who is not the man who called me a faggot when I was eight and then never returned.
I wonder if she measures herself in ounces or liters as she sardines her body into a dress fashioned from Goodwill curtains. Rhinestones trace the floral pattern. Mami presses on lashes, paints her lips and lines her eyeballs but honest to God no matter what she puts on she always looks like big-butted Rosie the Robot to me. Mami’s government name is Rosalinda. She glides out of the bathroom, out of the living room, out of the house. The screen door slaps, and I look out to make sure wheels haven’t replaced her feet.
Gull and I turn to each other. We make robot noises and giggle and kiss and fly away.