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Jo Ann Yolanda Hernández Bleached Wheat My mom smiles a lot. People are always sayingwhat a happy mom I got. At home, alone, it's different. She has a wall in her bedroom lined with 60s videos. Beach Party Movies. Gidget movies. Sweet-innocent-girls-always-win movies. Sweet, innocent, blonde girls, that is. I always rooted for dark-haired Annette to win. Every weekend when I was younger, my mom would make a big bowl of popcorn and buy several liter-bottles of Big Red soda, and we would watch two or three videos. Mom would point out all the different ways good girls acted. The closet in my bedroom was cut into the wall. Made special for me. So I'd have one just like the girls did in the videos we watched. Now when she gets on that kick again, wanting me to watch those videos with her, I just sit there, arms folded, a bored look on my face. Or I tell her I have homework. That works better. "Education is the way to success," is my mother's favorite line. Next to "Good Girls keep their knees together at all times." These videos from the 60s don't have anything in them that's me or about my life, so why waste my time? But then I went and saw Mi Vida Loca—a movie about Chicana homegirls. I knew nothing about their lives, either. So where does that leave me? Sitting in front of the dresser, with make-up lights surrounding the mirror, I brush my hair back into a ponytail like the girls in the video wear their hair. My mom wants me to wear it that way. IfI don't, she'll comb my hair. She yanks and pulls when she does my hair, so Td rather do it myself. I can't see why she wants me to comb my hair like them. I don't see any resemblance to them. The phone rings; Sofia sounds breathless on the other end. "My mom's gonna be gone for awhile. What if I come over and we can do our math homework together?" She's sweet. She knows I can't add two plus two, but she'd never say so. "Sure." I run into the kitchen. My mom's busy making food for the church bake sale after Mass tomorrow. I take a deep breath, filling my nose with the smells of cupcakes and brownies. My mom has dried cookie dough on the side ofher arm. She's not much taller than I am, and she lightens her short brown hair. She says she's not bleaching it. But each time she does it her hair gets lighter and sticks out like a broom. "Mom, Sofia's coming over." She slaps my hand away as I reach for a cookie. "Again? Wasn't she just here yesterday?" 20the minnesota review "So?" "So? Is that all you can think of to say?" "I guess." "Guess? You have to sound confident. People will never put their trust in you if you don't sound confident." My mom is always saying stuff like that. I haven't been able to figure why she thinks I want people to put their trust in me. "So?" "I hope you don't talk to your teachers like that. You have to think about getting into college and they're the ones who are going to write your letters of recommendation. You have to impress them now for what you want later." This is also something else I heard a lot that I don't understand. Most times my teachers talk to me about secretarial courses or factory work. I believe I am going to college more than they do. "So?" My mother waves the spatula in the air. I dodge a splatter ofcookie dough. "Doesn't Sofia have any place else to go?" "She wants to help me with...." "You're so gullible. In time you'll understand that these girls are not your friends. They're jealous of you and like hanging out with you because of all the pretty things you have." Gripping the...


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pp. 19-29
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