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Dying Breed

Didi Menendez

You know I am a Cuban that was born there You know in La Habana but raised here You know Miami Who doesn't remember Cuba much less The Revolution and learned everything about Cuba and The Revolution second-hand so some of my information is hearsay and besides I never really thought of myself as Cuban although my parents never let me forget who I was or where I came from and how better we were there before the hijo-de-puta took over the island although my parents never cursed in front of me or in front of others and although el hijo-de-puta really only took over from another hijo-de-puta according to what I later heard The nuns at St. Mary's Cathedral did not let me be American either They always reminded me that I was not like the other Caucasian girls in Kindergarten They mispronounced my name and actually told me what it meant as if I did not know that my name meant sweet and they started to turn me bitter then Yes that is when the bitterness started Yes I am a dying breed You know Cubans that were educated here and remember the Beatles landing in Miami and waving from an airplane to the camera and swimming around a pool somewhere in South Miami Their picture making front cover of the Miami Herald Cubans that remember how neighborhoods were taken over like the neighborhood we lived in before it became Liberty City where twenty years later everyone in the United States would know what Liberty City was and I was there I was there before it became Liberty City and the neighborhood was being taken over by men who came to our back yards and stared into our bedrooms and drank beer leaving the cans for us to pick up later Once there was man chasing a blond chic down our block right in front of our house and we knew if he caught up to her he was going to kill that girl We were sure of it He was chasing her down our block with that knife that everyone could see glistening in the sun underneath a clear blue Miami sky but we could not call la policia because we were still not the majority and we wanted really bad to call la policia to have the policia hear us complain but we could not afford a telephone yet It was too soon to be heard and we never found out what became of the girl running down the sidewalk and we never knew if someone else called la policia to try to save one of themselves because the neighborhood still had plenty of white Americans My uncle dated their teenage daughters and brought them home from a day-at-the-beach at Miami Beach before it became South Beach and there were little old ladies back then dying in the sun in Miami Beach and not the topless Sweedish models you find there now Or maybe it was from a day at Crandon Park before it was invaded by the Bee Gees building their mansions there in Key Biscayne I hear Cher just sold her house there for a few hundred million Yes Tio Galo dated the daughters of the white Americans still living in the neighborhood and they wore yellow polka-dot bikinis and Tio Galo brought them home to his room to listen to the AM radio and watch Band Stand and these girls walked into our house with their dirty sandy feet making abuela mop the floors again after she had just finished mopping the terrazzo floors shiny Abuela would complain to Tio Galo to date a nice Cuban girl even though there weren?t many good Cuban girls to pick from yet because we were just starting to arrive and we were still claiming each other and placing names on certificates that were not yet born and we really did not know if we were claiming a boy or a girl so we picked names that were neutral just to claim who we needed to bring into the United States Abuela knew Tio Galo was just sewing his oats and having fun and she knew about the war in Viet Nam and she knew her youngest son would soon be called to that war although she was hoping or better-yet-said was sure that Castro would surely be dead before one of her sons had to be drafted and we would all go back to Cuba before then as the rest of the neighborhood stared from behind closed curtains when we walked past their houses with our grocery shopping carts and they yelled to their younger daughters to come inside teaching them to keep to themselves even though once when my sister was three collapsed in the middle of the sidewalk and not one single person came out to help her because abuela was yelling for help in Spanish Socorro Socorro Socorro she yelled and even though abuela was as white as those people behind the curtains with their yapping cocker-spaniels barking at her did one of them come out to help a child laying unconscious in the hot sidewalk Not one person came out from behind locked doors as the neighborhood was being struggled over by three races and we already know what became of Liberty City and we already know what became of the rest of Miami when neighborhoods are taken over by dying breeds.

Didi Menendez

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