03 March 2010

The Dreadful Night Ana Castillo Cursed Me and My Ex-boyfriend

(or The Wolf Man vs Dr. Jekyll)

Chapter 1. La Catrina's Curse.

I’m a werewolf and my ex-boyfriend is Dr. Jekyll. No seriously, I’m a werewolf. Look, I can prove it. You think I got all this hair on my arms and chest and butt from my Mexican or Cuban ancestry? I’m telling you. I’m a fucking werewolf. Being a werewolf isn’t like becoming a Chicano after self-exploration and a Latino Studies 101 class in college. You’re born a werewolf and you don’t know you’re one until, well until something traumatic brings the monster out of you. But, I should have always known I was a werewolf.

One day, when I was about thirteen, I woke up and POOF, I had hair all over my face, my balls, my legs, you name it. I’m a beast. But that’s not the point. I was trying to tell you about my relationship to the elusive, Dr. Jekyll. Check it, so if I’m the modern, Latino werewolf writer, then he was the contemporary Latino mad artist extraordinaire. He was a painter, yes, it was like a psycho surrealist Dali and Lorca love affair. We were all passion. All art and empty promises. We were young. We were stupid. But we were desperately in love.

This is how it all went down. No bullshit. For real. I guess neither one of us knew we were dating a monster. It just sort of all happened one ominous night, full-moon and all. The Aztec moon goddess, Coyolxauhqui, don’t ask me how to pronounce that, must have had a special eye out for us that night. Our blood was fresh with poetry and romance, ready to gay it up at Spot 6 in Boystown. We were going on a special date to drink and dance to the Kumbia Queers, a Mexican lesbian punk/pop/kumbia group I’d found on myspace and fell in love with. I even downloaded all four of the only tracks I could get my hands on and made a mix for Dr. Doolittle, my ex, the weekend before. I was beyond excited. Finally a funky dance group for our kind. The artsy queer, hipster-ripster proud Latino types. We would see Ana Castillo do an intimate poetry reading and then run up north on The "L".

I can tell you the date exactly, Friday, September 19, 2008. Yes, this story has taken me almost 2 years to write. I know, you're probably thinking 'what a sentimental fuck,' but seriously I was fucking traumatized. It’s not everyday you realize you’re a fictional European archetype of horror. Anyways, the reason I remember the date so specifically is because Diana Pondo's blog (eliterati.blogspot.com) dutifully notes the record of that fateful evening which started at the recently deceased Tianguis coffee shop and bookstore on Cullerton and Damen, right off the Damen (now) Pinkline Station.

See, Dr. Dimwit and I had just spent the better part of the evening attentively listening to Ana Castillo read from her then recently published and promoted novel, --The Guardians, which I have yet to read but I’m sure is stunning-- at the quaint and eternally missed Latina owned coffee and cultural epicenter that was Tianguis: Books. Tea. Culture. (www.tianguis.biz). But, honestly La Señora Castillo kinda scares me. Her work is of course monumental, influential, moving, etc. etc. it’s just after that night, her presence lingers with me like La Llorona or something even creepier and more elegant like La Catrina. Yeah, that’s it Ana Castillo is La Catrina of this story. She kinda has a ghoulish quality about her anyways, but don't tell anybody I said that.

So, anyways there we were listening to La Catrina read from her new novel, all mesmerized by her star power, hanging off her every word, and me trying to act all cool like, yeah, whatever, this foundational Chicana feminist from my hometown Chicago, “ain’t all that and a bag of chips,” like my mom would say. After the Q & A there was a little book signing, and as I approached La Catrina she could instantly sense my novice novella writing ways. She could somehow feel the tight hold of Dr. Jekyll’s awe at my side and our collective astonishment with this imposing artist and modern figure.

Before I could say anything from behind my eager smile, she asked me, as I presented her my copy of I Ask the Impossible to sign, “You’re a writer?” Not asking me so much as telling me. And I just looked at her shyly, “Yeah… I try.” And she said, very sternly, “Try harder.” That was it. She cursed me. She said something to my Ex as she signed his copy of her new book, the book I, of course, had to purchased for him because he never had any money or could keep a job. The book he would take away from that night and read, and poor all of his anguish and guilt for this night into after we broke up... the first time. Yeah, we broke up that very night.

Right after the reading, right after Ana Castillo cursed us with whatever her knowing witch and writer ways predicted, we would be split apart in true 1950’s horror flick fashion. Awkward close ups and cheep affects, thick pancake batter makeup and intense noir lighting. The night we broke up, I mean, the night La Catrina ripped us apart, we were in a black and white Béla Lugosi film, or better yet, an Ed Wood picture.

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