Rogelio saw me take my phone out of my purse and was about to start complaining that I was always on Instagram, so I shot him the first question that came into my head:
‘So how are they going to do the gender reveal?’
Neutralized. He’s always hated talking about babies, especially in those days, when we’d spent more than six months fucking day and night, trying any way we could to get me pregnant or for me to get him pregnant, if that’s what it came to.
‘I asked if you know how my prima is going to reveal the sex of her little blessing.’
‘Leydi isn’t your prima.’ Clearly he was itching to change the subject, since he knows full well that Miami is the city of primos, and that
here a primo isn’t a ‘cousin’ so much as the first – el primer – human being who lets you into their life, especially when you’re as poor as we had been for so many years.
‘Oye, why are you being so lame,’ I defended myself with conviction. Something told me it was a good day to win any fight I felt like picking. ‘Do you or do you not know how their baby’s sex is going to be revealed? I mean, Google says we’re going to an event that could put our lives at serious risk: November 2019, gender reveal in Texas, a plane crashed carrying 350 liters of pink water minutes before letting the parents know they were bringing a little female worker, potentially a Republican, into the world.’
‘Female worker? What’s the matter with you? All I’m asking is that you don’t say anything at the party about us trying to have
a baby, be it boy or girl.’
‘Or non-binary, Rogelio, I don’t want our baby to be put into some heteronormative straitjacket at such a tender age.’
‘Will you please put your phone down?’ Dream on – he was trying to distract me from my social convictions and my desire to mess
‘Why? You’re the one driving. Oh look, here’s another example: a year earlier, April 2018, 47,000 acres set alight in Arizona when a couple tried to use colored fireworks to reveal the sex of their little worker, another potential Republican. It says here that their worker-girl was born healthy a few months later, but that the firefighters spent eight million dollars putting out the flames caused by the parents’ stunt. Can you even wrap your head around how much eight million dollars is? No, no. You can’t. These kinds of parties are known as “Cultura de blancos heteronormativos” hashtag #straightwhiteculture.’
‘With balloons, mijita, with balloons. Por favor, don’t be such a drama queen.’
‘What’d you say, you fucking dipshit?’ I only thought the vocative, I didn’t actually vocalize it, I cut my question off at ‘what’d you say’, retaining a modicum of decency.
‘Leydi is going to do her gender reveal with helium-filled balloons that they’ll let out of a box: if the balloons are pink, they’re going to have a girl; if they’re blue, they’re going to have a boy.’ My husband was feigning patience.
‘You’re telling me this total hija de puta is going to kill off three or four endangered birds who are going to mistake the balloons for food and choke on the plastic?’
Rogelio gave me a withering look. I tasted potential victory and returned to the attack:
‘Either way, mi amor, they already passed on the idea of having an abortion; she’s been carrying her little blessing around for seven months now, who’ll probably vote Republican too, and get breastfed exclusively for Instagram posts. Look: hashtag #nursinginpublicisaright, #breastfeedingnomatterwhat, #titsweatandall, #fuckedbuthappy.’
‘Ño, wow, gender-reveal parties really get you wound up, mija. Please, I’m begging you, put your phone away.’
‘No.’ I summoned my best human-rights-defender tone. ‘I’m checking my ovulation calendar, and looks like tonight we have to fuck again, these are my good days.’
‘Don’t start with that, coño, it makes me not want to go to the party.’
‘What can I say, with my degree in biology and my master’s in gender politics’ – and my impulse to mess with people, I should’ve added – ‘I have zero desire to go to this fucking ode to capitalist binarism. None of these people give a shit that a flock of birds is going to choke to death on those balloons, be they pink or blue. And let me ask you, Rogelio: what if the baby isn’t a boy or a girl, what color should the balloons be then?’
Silent, defeated, Rogelio drove on till we reached the last corner separating us from the debacle. As we turned the corner, a street lined with new cars parked almost on top of each other opened out in front of us. Miraculously, we found a spot on an old lady’s lawn who – oh-so accommodating – greeted us kindly by flipping a right-hand bird.
I got out of the car, shot the old lady a look, put my phone back in my purse and scanned the sky in search of killer airplanes. We were safe. For now. I grabbed the expensive – very expensive and unnecessary – gift we’d bought two days before; a gift that Leydi’s baby boy or baby girl (or non-binary baby, though the balloons wouldn’t admit such a possibility) would probably outgrow within three months of being born. Rogelio went on ahead so he could enter the house by himself, hands in his pockets. It’s not like it was cold outside, just the opposite, the dog-day Miami heat had my makeup running and the back of his shirt damp; it was just his way of indicating he wanted to get away from me, that I’d won the first round. This party was shaping up to be a blast, especially when it came to my desire to mess with people and my six months as a failed vagina.
‘Greetings Kendall people,’ my tío Esteban shouted when Rogelio and I walked through the door. ‘I’m wondering when I’m gonna get my invitation to your yendereveal, you’re up next.’
‘Hola tío, how have you been?’ I call him tío, but Esteban isn’t actually my uncle, either, which is why I always address him with the formal usted and never let him hug me, because his hands tend to wander.
‘Fine, sobrina, fine, waiting for you and Rogelio to decide to have a beibi.’
I hadn’t told anyone about my failures. And to tell the truth, we weren’t really sure we wanted to bring another little worker (boy, girl or enby) into the world, but we’d been told a thousand times that a child born in the United States tended to expedite the citizenship process. So I smiled at my uncle, who is not my uncle, and gave him a pat on the shoulder, not offering any kisses or details, or a chance to surreptitiously grope my ass.
‘Leydi is out back, come in, come in, she’s expecting you guys.’
Leydi was doing her gender reveal in her backyard, hashtag #lowerclass god level. I took a moment to imagine how the pictures of the party would look on Instagram.
‘Amiga de mi alma!’ she shrieked when she saw us walk out into the backyard, and her belly began bouncing up and down like a yo-yo that was trying to pop out of her throat. ‘I’m so glad you guys are here! If you brought a gift, put it on the surprise table, I don’t want to see it. I hope you bought yellow or white, because we won’t know this baby’s sex for a few hours.’
‘Hours?’ I couldn’t help myself.
‘Ay, chica, I mean the party is going to last a while. I don’t know if it’ll be hours or minutes, I’m so excited. But this angelito in my belly will be a blessing no matter what,’ Leydi said, so predictable, so basic, so unphotogenic, and she wrapped her arms around her belly as if they were a boa constrictor ready to squeeze the life out of its prey.
‘Sure, sure, prima, no problem, it was just a question, hashtag #soexcited.’ I took cover behind any justification I could, while setting my expensive gift down on a table with a nylon (!) tablecloth.
‘Speaking of crazy questions, amiga de mi alma, when are you and Rogelio going to invite us to your gender-reveal party? You’re running out of time, right? I mean, you’re already getting up there in your thirties.’