Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Do You Want to Know a Secret (part 6 - by Margaret Ullrich)

I tossed my head. It was useless. The curls would never go away and I’d never belong anywhere. I hadn’t asked to come to America, I hadn’t asked to move to College Point and I really hadn’t asked for straight hair to be in style. I exploded. “I hate being different. In school the nuns are all Irish. If I act Maltese, they say I’m shy. At home, if I speak up like Sister said, Ma says I’m fresh.”
“See? It’s a sign. Move back.”
“And where would I live?”

We both knew that while her Dad might give her money for a concert ticket, he wasn’t about to permanently take in another mouth to feed. We had to live with our parents’ choices.
Nadia said, “Yeah, I guess you’re stuck there. Look. Smarten up. In school, act Irish. At home, act Maltese.”
“But which is me?”
“Whadaya mean? Yer a Maltese who acts Irish like an American. Yer lucky. Yer just one thing. I got family in Sicily and Malta. Mom’s folks call me A-rab and Dad’s call me Wop. I gotta tell ya, when we studied ’bout the last war, I didn’t know who ta root for.”
“Don't tell Aunt Demi that.”
We laughed. It had never occured to me that, thanks to Uncle Des’ choices, Nadia had problems fitting in, too. We were in the same boat. We’d sink or swim together. Nadia asked, “So how’re ya gonna get the ticket money?”
“I don’t know. Don’t worry. I’ll get it.”

Life for a teenager in 1964 could be full of problems. But Nadia and I were going to work together. It was time for our parents to learn to live with our decisions.

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