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Working at the restaurant in Isla Vista wasn’t so bad. I was making good money, but at the same time, I’d lost fifteen pounds. They say working the graveyard shift can eat you alive. I guess they were right. I was as attractive as a mop, and the only good thing about my appearance was my black, long curly hair, neatly placed under a blue LA baseball hat I bought at a local shop somewhere in the Westside. So, if you think about it, I still look pretty fucked up.

I wasn’t done having arguments and disagreements with everybody. This guy named Jesus, a short and chubby man from Toluca (I think), had extremely homosexual tendencies. No, he wasn’t gay. He just missed his wife so much, which caused him to have an unwelcome affection towards my ass. I really hated that motherfucker.

The other person I still didn’t get along with was Tony. I found out he said that the only reason why he didn’t break my nose was that I was related to the boss. I begged to differ. The only reason why he never put a hand on me was that he didn’t have enough balls.

Neither did I, anyway. Hand-on-hand combat was never my area of expertise.

You could say that I was right about many of my quarrels, that I had a reason to dislike certain people, but there was a particular man who never did anything to deserve my animosity; his name was Eutiquio, he was barely five feet tall and had what I thought was an annoying humbleness about himself. My cousin Jenaro hired him to help out as a dishwasher (which was my job, too), so Jesus could teach me how to work in the kitchen.

Every day I’d watch Eutiquio work. He was extremely obedient. It looked as if God put him on this earth to serve, and he was pleased about it. I mean, he was almost radiant! I found his happiness unbearable. Meanwhile, I kept working with Jesus in the kitchen. And I hated every minute of it, too. Is there anything good I can say about Jesus, you may ask? I guess you could say yes because he is the one who taught me one or two things about being a cook.

Still, writing is the only thing I really like to do.

Sometimes I wonder why I tend to hate certain people, even when they don’t deserve it. Is it because I am always unhappy? Anyway, why are some people so happy all the time? In my opinion, people who seem very happy must be serial killers. I’ve seen Criminal Minds, I’ve read several books, and I’ve known people who’d done unimaginable shit, always leaving the rest of the world wondering, “How come I never saw this coming? He looked so normal!”

See? Maybe having this unhappy look on my face all the time makes me completely sane.

Or not.

Ok, I’m going to tell you what I really think: I think that the reason why I am unhappy is that I haven’t learned to cope with my life. I hate to be broke, unable to see where I am going in life while witnessing how some people seem to be content with the life they have.

One day I decided to follow my cousins’ advice and look for ways to get along with people. I talked to Jesus, and he agreed to stop his shit. I apologized to Eutiquio, and he said it was ok, that he didn’t even know I didn’t like him.

They say ignorance is bliss.

The only person I was never going to get along with was Tony, and we were ok with it. We still lived together, and I had the impression there was more than one reason why he didn’t like me. I never asked. I never thought that would change anything in our lives.

One time, trying to pretend there wasn’t bad blood between us, Tony and I went to this nightclub Downtown called Zelos, which is no longer in business; that tells you how much it sucked. This was on a Monday, Reggaeton Night, and I wore a ridiculous white turtleneck long-sleeve shirt and white pants. Trying to look cool, I put on a brown baseball hat, brown belt, and brown boots.

Tony spent the whole night dancing and making out with a girl he later got pregnant and had to marry, while I stood there, against the wall, as my clothes radiated an obnoxious light of its own. I didn’t know what to do. To make matters worse, I had no idea how to dance.

Then, out of nowhere, a blonde girl glided through the dance floor and positioned herself in front of me. Her piercing blue eyes undressed me, or maybe she was making fun of my clothes. She leaned closer and whispered, “You wanna dance?”

Thankfully, I knew what that meant. I walked with her to the dance floor and tried to move like the others were moving. I started to forget how awful I looked as the music progressed. Everything was good until she decided to make small talk.

In English.

Fuck, I thought. I didn’t know what to say. She noticed my hesitation and decided to keep on dancing. I wanted to say something, but the language barrier was thicker and higher than the border I had to cross to be here. Whatever ephemeral thought I had of making out with this girl further into the night evaporated right in there.

And I hated myself for it.

The song was over, and she left. I never saw her again.

For some time, trying to fit in seemed to be working out just fine. I tried to emulate Eutiquio’s view of life, I had a more productive and amicable relationship with Jesus, and I even tried to find something positive about Tony. After that awful night at Zelos, I started to pay more attention to the English language. Everything seemed a lot better. I just needed to be a bit more positive.


Photo by Wilhei.

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