Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sports Bring Us Together

Two weeks ago on a Saturday I was cleaning my house, driving around running errands.
The buzz on NPR was about the Kentucky Derby and the different rituals surrounding the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown.

I caught a snippet of a story about $1,000 mint juleps that were served in benefit retired horses. The proceeds of these beverages served in gold plated cups and made with ingredients from around the world helped pay for the care of horses that had retired from racing. I was amazed, considering that moments before I had shared the street with a homeless gentleman pushing his shopping cart filled with bags of cans and glass.

I arrived home and was sorting through books and CDs. The neighbors upstairs (boricuas!) gathered with their friends to watch the de la Hoya fight.

I was thrown back into childhood.

I realized that my father and our family friends would gather to watching boxing matches. The audience was always filled with glamourous people. The boxers always had satin shorts, matching robes, and an entourage. Very strange.

The men in my life have never really been violent. I suppose that they got some of that out by watching boxing matches.

Bottles of beer. Bellowing laughter. Women cooking in the kitchen and shaking their heads while the men crowded the couch and leapt up, coaching, screaming at their adopted athlete,

Hit him! Hit him! Pero, cono, why won't he hit him, mang?

They took it personally that de la Hoya wasn't performing his personal best.

I chuckled as I remember my little self, braids cascading down the sides of my head with little bolito ponytail holders, wondering why my dad and our family friends drinking palitos of rum and coke, were so excited about men hitting each other.

We were in Endicott, NY. I was unaware of my father's work culture, or how he grew up in the streets of New York where the American kids would call him and the other Puerto Rican kids, "Mira-miras" because that's what Puerto Rican moms would call to get their childrens to come upstairs.

In the late 70s we were in the TV room with our cable that had HBO. All was right with the world...

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