Alyssa Nicole Aninag

 

XVII

1) You (unwillingly) Did

Your religious ed teacher, Mr. Mansfield, pointed at you. “You,” he said. Then he pointed at Bobby Gurrero. “And you.”

Just like that you and Bobby were wedded, partners for your Knot Yet Marriage Project. The multifaceted assignment served to explore the Sacrament of Matrimony through the eyes of the Catholic Church, a covenant by which a man and woman establish a life partnership.

Let’s face it— you were not pleased when you found out Bobby was your partner. You knew his type: defined jaw line, husky-but-not-a-smoker voice, good hair, and dentist-for-a-parent perfect teeth. He was the type of boy who would make you do all the work. You weren’t about to let that happen.

Bobby Gurrero turned around in his left–handed desk, acknowledging you for the first time. He looked you up and down. “What a girl,” he said. “What a wife.”

You might have squealed — you can’t remember, but you undoubtedly swooned. Rookie mistake.

2) 3 – 1 = 2 and 2 + 1 = more than you preferred

After school, Sam and Frankie, your best girlfriends, stuffed their faces with freshly made rocky road from their home economics class while they waited for you to answer. Marshmallow webbed the corners of their lips.

“Bobby Gurrerro,” you said, clicking the combination lock closed and spinning the dial around like you always did. You left Sam and Frankie gawking as you walked down the hall flipping your hair to one side, waving a few fingers behind you. Out of sight, you practically skipped down the path that led straight to the curb where your father idled in his sun damaged sedan.

“Seatbelt,” your father said.

You couldn’t help but think that you were one lucky son of a gun as you clicked the metal buckle in place.

3) Love Chubs

The next day in class Mr. Mansfield explained the Marriage Project in depth and handed each couple a rubric that detailed how you would be graded. Mr. Mansfield tasked the class with working with your husband or wife to organize a schedule in order to complete the project. Chatter permeated throughout the room.

“What’s in the bag?” Bobby said as he nodded to your paper sack. It was the first time Bobby attempted to converse with you. You froze, unsure of what to say. You read the rubric a second time.

Bobby cleared his throat. “What’s. In. The. Bag?” he said.

“Lunch,” you said.

He raised an eyebrow at you.

You carefully unrolled the top, tilting the open mouth toward him.

“Let me see what you’re working with,” he said.

You looked toward the front of the classroom where Mr. Mansfield sat at his desk flipping through a stack of binder paper, a green pen between his lips.

You pulled out a tuna salad sandwich flattened by the weight of an apple. Bobby shook his head. Then you pulled out a bag of barbecue potato chips. He leaned toward you. He smelled fresh like pine and fabric softener. It reminded you of your grandpa in a nice way.

“Open them for me,” he whispered in your ear.

The cloud of heat from his breath lingered in your ear, trapped by your long hair. He gave you goose bumps. You placed the bag of potato chips inside your backpack, hoping it would muffle the crinkling sound. You grabbed a handful of thin orangey chips and dumped them on Bobby’s desk. Someone rapped on your desk and you quickly spun around. Mr. Mansfield handed you a pink detention slip with the words “eating during class” scribbled in green.

4) First Date

Up until that day you had a perfect record and you were pissed that you received your first detention. Ms. Stahl, the principal’s college-aged daughter oversaw detention. Without looking up, she told you to sign in as she anxiously rummaged through her purse and let out a deep sigh of relief when she found a stick of gum.

You scanned the room and recognized all the students who had reputations for selling or smoking pot, having sex behind the auditorium curtains, or manhandling each other in locker rooms when changing for P.E. You desperately wanted to go home. Before showing up for detention you phoned your father to tell him you were going to be working on a project after school and Frankie offered to bring you home. No one seemed to notice you so you took a seat in the back of the room and whipped out your pre-calculus book. You matched the corners of a piece of binder paper and ran your thumb’s nail along the edge, crisping the fold, and began to work out the first problem.

Someone hovered over your desk and when you looked up there was Bobby. You immediately felt something akin to comfort. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a pink slip identical to the one Mr. Mansfield gave you. “For better or for worse,” Bobby said. He took your folded piece of paper and prompted that you should start getting to know each other.

5) Some Answers

Bobby Gurrero
Green
Have money
Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson
No children
Catholic
Easter and Christmas
Manager somewhere
Mom
Don’t have one

You
Green
Be happy
Mariah Carey, Earth, Wind, and Fire and the Jackson 5
Two Children — possibly twins
Catholic
Every Sunday
Pediatrician, lawyer, or a dentist, maybe a nurse
Dad and Mom
Shakespeare

6) (Tahiti) Nui

You and Bobby decided to have a huge wedding—three hundred guests. You envisioned wearing an intricately beaded gown and you both decided you wanted a wedding on a beach. “Somewhere exotic,” Bobby said. “But somewhere we would never call home.” You both settled for Tahiti—for the ceremony and the honeymoon. Bobby wanted to see loin cloth men climb coconut trees , and you wanted fresh lilies, plumerias, and hibiscus flowers bound in a vibrant bouquet. Frankie, Sam, Jessica, Danielle, and Hollie would be your bridesmaids. Each would wear a seafoam green svelte gowns. Each tucking a newly blossomed plumeria behind their ear. Bobby envisioned the high school baseball team as his groomsmen—only the tallest and most handsome, of course—Jimmy, Dan the Man, Michael (aka Red), David, and Taylor. “And for the honeymoon,” Bobby said. “We’d go to the other side of the island so we don’t have to deal with our friends or family.”

7) Firsts

Bobby drove you home after school in his big monster truck. You’d never been inside a boy’s car before, let alone had a boy drive you home before. There was a cool sweetness in the car, something like mint and pineapples. He rolled down the window and rested his bare arm on the sill. You and Bobby did not converse, the music played between you and him. And every now and then the crystal angel that hung from his rearview mirror sprayed a rainbow across the dashboard when it caught the sun; blinding and beautiful. Before you stepped out of his truck to head home he kissed you dead–on the lips.

8) Mistake

“Who drove you home?” your mother asked while wiping spaghetti sauce with a piece of bread.

“A kid,” you said. “A partner for a project.”

“Name?” your father asked.

“Bobby.”

“Mmm,” your mother said. “That explains why Frankie called asking if you still needed a ride.”

You didn’t realize you were smiling until you stopped.

9) Chance

Mr . Ransford walked around the classroom with an empty pickle jar filled with tiny bits of scrap paper. He plucked one out that was the width of a fortune cookie fortune and handed it to you. It read:

The wife is a psychologist and earns a starting salary of $50,000.
The husband graduated from vocational school as a pharmacy technician
and receives a starting salary of $25,000.
Together you have three children all under the age of 10.

Bobby took the slip from my fingers.

“Whoa ,” he said. “$25,000.”

10) Interest

You fingered through the Stockton Record’s Classifieds for rent prices, the cheap ink staining your fingers.

“This house hunting is kinda fun,” Bobby said as he slid his hand on your knee under the formal dining room table.

You were nervous. Your parents were in the room over watching the five o’clock news. You folded your legs under you, sitting on your ankles to prevent Bobby from putting his hand on you again. You did think Bobby was right. It was fun to envision living somewhere else that is, until you began to budget for monthly expenses like rent, utilities, phone bills, cable TV, car insurance, car payments, gas, maintenance, parking, health insurance, and food. You budgeted for clothing and laundry and you decided you wouldn’t own any articles that needed to be dry cleaned. Bobby came up with the list of hygiene essentials—shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies like glass cleaner, paper towels, toilet cleaner, and sponges to wipe up the messes. You and Bobby made budgets for entertainment like going to the movies, buying drinks with friends, and vacations to New York and Texas to see his cousins. You thought about birthday gifts and contributions on Sundays for the eleven o’clock mass. You included credit card payments and loans because you were the one who went to college to get a psychology degree. You considered savings and Bobby asked you, “What about it?”

11) Salmon

“It’s not a big deal,” you said to Frankie as you began to walk away.

“Big deal? Big deal?” she shouted.

Other students who were walking to their second period began to stare. You turned around against the stream of plaid and polo shirts and went right up to Frankie’s face.

“Don’t make a scene,” you said. You moved in closer to her, almost whispering in her ear. “You’re upset because I’m spending all my time with him. But what you don’t realize is that this is just temporary. It’s for a stupid school project. I’ll go to the mall with you guys next weekend when this is finished. Calm your tits.”

Frankie scoffed. “Thank God, you realized that this is a stupid school project. Remember that.”

12) 2 x 2 = 4 and 4 ÷ 2 = 0

Mr. Mansfield passed out a handout titled “Parental Situations,” and asked the class to choose three of the ten scenarios. You and Bobby were to separately write up your responses and add it to your Marriage Project Scrapbook.

You have been married for six months and are settling into your new life.
Recently your in-laws have had you over for dinner and are hinting about grandchildren. Pick up the scene.

Bobby

First off, my partner’s parents are awesome. Her dad is super hilarious so I know he can take a joke. We’d probably be sitting in their backyard. Her dad would be barbecuing and her mom would be the one to bring up grandchildren. I’d mess with her dad and say, “We’re all baby makin’, but we ain’t all makin’ babies, you know what I mean.”

You

I would politely say we’re not ready to have children yet. I would tell my mother–in–law that I’d want to be good with my money before we have children, I want to be settled. I would tell her I want to enjoy being married to Bobby before I get pregnant. I’d want to travel with him before we commit to having a baby. However, I would let her know that I do want children, just not so soon. I wouldn’t want to not offend her in anyway and I’d want to be as respectful as possible.

13) Power of Introverts

Your middle school aged son is seemingly very popular with the other kids
at school, is involved with sports and is a good student. You have noticed
that he has become more quiet than usual and last week he and his father
argued over him asking to miss an upcoming practice. Pick up the scene.

Bobby

First off, I’d say he’s taking after me. He’s popular, good in sports, and I’d tell him I was a pretty good student too. I’d say, “Son, why don’t you want to play? Is it because all the other guys are secretly jealous because you’re too good for them? Is that why?” I’d tell him the story of when I didn’t like going to baseball practice because the other guys would just hate on me. But I knew they needed me. They just didn’t want to man up and say so.

You

I would be concerned that our son has become more quiet. I would really try to get at the heart of what is bothering him by figuring out what was going on with him at school or at practice. If our son does not outright say what was wrong, I would set up a meeting with his coach or his teachers to discuss any issues.

14) (Tahiti) Iti

You waited on the curb for what seemed like hours. You tiptoed and craned your neck hoping to see your father’s sun damaged sedan. Nada. You figured he’d be late so you pulled out your pre-calculus homework and waited right there on the curb for your father to pick you up from school. You thought to yourself—damn, I really need to learn how to drive.

Just then the rumble of a pickup pulled up to the curb, the passenger window rolled down.

“Get in, wife,” Bobby said, and you did. Rookie mistake number two.

You left your pre-calculus homework right there on the curb, ended up copying off of someone else’s work the next morning before it was due. Thank god you remembered to bring your book with you—that brick was too expensive to lose. The crystal angel swayed back and forth when Bobby braked at a stoplight. You never noticed its delicate gold halo, like a thin wedding band.

Bobby parked in front of a single story house with small bushes lining the pathway and a bougainvillea plant sprawled near the front entrance, its fuchsia blooms kissing the door jamb each time the light wind blew.

“What are we doing here?” you said.

“Practice got canceled today.” He pulled out the rubric for the project and pointed to the last checkbox that read

“Marriage Vows.”

He opened up your door for you.

“My lady,” he said with a wink as he held out his hand and helped you balance as you stepped down from his monster truck.

You reached for your backpack.

“Oh,” he said. “You won’t be needing that.”

Inside his house it was humid and it smelled like cajun. His mother was making arroz con pollo. She was a tiny woman, her massive hair adding three inches to her height. She kissed you on both cheeks. “Oh thank god,” she said. “I thought Bobby was maricon.”

“Ma —she’s for a project,” Bobby said.

You followed Bobby into the family room, the walls were painted an alarming red color.

Bobby reached for my hand and you let him lead you into his backyard. It was a small oasis, with a koi pond, palm leaves shading the tiny patio, and birds of paradise—orange beaks penetrating through the foliage.

“I figured this was as close to Tahiti as we could get,” he said. Your hands were suddenly clammy and you put your hair up, slipping the rubber band off your wrist. For a while you two didn’t speak, you focused on writing your vows on a folded sheet of binder paper.

Bobby peeked through the sliding glass door and you could slightly make out an outline of his mother asleep on the couch in the family room. He asked if you wanted to go inside for a glass of water, “It’s a little warm out here, don’t you think.”

He quietly ran the tap and filled two glasses. You didn’t realize your hand was shaking until you saw the water quivering in the cup. Before you knew what was going to happen, you let him lead you to his bedroom. You let him pull up your skirt and put your St. Thomas Aquinas pendant in his mouth to keep it from hitting his eye.

15) Grown

Your seventeen year old daughter wants to spend a weekend down the shore
unchaperoned with her boyfriend. Pick up the scene.

 

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