I feel strongly about writing a little something over my "hometown" Cache, America. This won't be the first time, either. I may take one or two liberties, but I assure you, it's sadly not that exaggerated.
There were two different camps in Cache. On one side, you had the cowboys. The good ole' boys. Western plaid shirts, country accents, Wrangler jeans with a big circular mark on the back pocket where chewing tobacco cases had worn in an indentation, you get the idea.
On the other side were the 'Indians' who ranged from short and skinny to real earth-shakers. When I exited Catholic school, I started the sixth grade in Cache, Oklahoma. A lot of my classes were indicative of the two sides, Indians here, Cowboys there. Not to say there wasn't diversity, there was also the enormous special-ed department and a black dude. Well, he was more or less known as the black dude.
So when I arrived, a half Mexican, I awkwardly settled in the Indian territory. They were just more accepting. With the white cowboys it was all, "Well what 'n the hell are yoouu?"
"I'm Mexican, well, half anyway. And I am half white."
"Mexi-Can huh? I guess you looookit. Hey boys, ask him what he is."
I never understood this aspect of pack mentality. I suppose they had wanted to know too, but really, he couldn't just relay what I had just said later? Perhaps the next time they all convened behind the school to enjoy their no doubt lively conversation in between chomps on their chewing tobacco one might mention, "Oh, you know that new fellow that just started school here?" One might ask,
"Yes, yes, he's in my English class! Why do you ask?"
"Well, I asked him today what race he is and he told me he was half Mexican and half white. Isn't that something?"
"Oh, how progressive!"
With the Indians, however, it was more like... "Yeah what up what tribe you from."
"Damn close enough I guess."
I enjoyed how they handled this. I felt like I could have said anything and would still be something like a Cherokee. Like if I had said "Czechoslovakian", or "Arabian", they would still say "Damn close enough."
"Want a smoke?" One asked me.
"No, I don't smoke." I said it with an air of accomplishment and almost laughed at myself. As if in my short life I had been given every opportunity in the world to take up the habit, me, a Catholic school kid. Then I thought of nuns toking up behind the church and almost choked trying to keep myself from laughing.
Then a Pow-Wow came to town, and everyone was invited. Well, not so much invited... in Cache, it was mandatory that we all attend. It was always the Indians sitting up front while the cowboys sat in the back looking depressed, no doubt thinking of all the tobacco they could be chewing.
"Welcome to the powww-woow, puh-lease take yer seats, thank yuh." Cache residents were notorious for their lifelessness and apathetic voices. A few people came out to set up the giant drum, and then I saw her, the enchantress, the Indian Princess.
In my memory she looked like Pocahontas, beautiful copper skin and a curvaceous body, though in reality she was chunky. She was actually quite chunky indeed. I think it was powerful suggestion that rewrote her in my personal history, the term princess just made it impossible for me to see her as the chunky woman who had just downed a six pack backstage.
When the pow-wow was over, I met up with her as we were walking back to class.
"Hi!" I said, poking her dress to get her attention.
"Hey there." She said, pulling a cigarette from her tribal fringed purse.
"I really like pow-wows," I said, trying to make conversation, "I'm Mexican but I still really do."
She took a deep breath on her cigarette then puffed a ring of smoke, "Mexican, huh? Y'all did a number on Geronimo's folks. Well kid, I gotta go. Have a good day."
Then she just up and left. At first I felt heartbreak, but then later I felt angry. She had basically denied my genuine interest and blew smoke in my face. What kind of girl is that, anyway? Smoke-ahontas and I would never come to be.
After that, I kind of shyed away from the Indians... but never warmed up to the cowboys either. So I just kind of drifted, somewhere in between, where there was just... me.