Thursday, March 28, 2019

How to Cut a Up Mango

How to Cut a Mango
Mangoes are one of my favorite fruits.  Thanks to a former employer, I now know how to cut them.
For 2.5 years I babysat for a little boy in Portland. 
It was mostly on Thursdays for 2.5 hours, after he got out of school.
I'd pick him up at the bus stop, then he'd get a snack, usually a bag of chips at a convenience store, or sometimes a donut, then we'd go to the library where he'd become engrossed in a book for the next two hours. 

The first time I picked him up it was Halloween and he'd received a Twix from the bus driver. 
He opened it and gave me one stick.

She, the mom, would call me on other occasions to work.
A lot, actually. 
On Friday and Saturday evenings when she and her husband went out to the movies.
Once on a Saturday morning; she and her son and husband were going to see the new Star Wars movie, and her daughter was too young to see it.
For the entire day when school wasn't in session.

It worked out for me.
It was good side income. 

One Saturday night she wanted her kids to have mangoes for dinner.
Do you know how to cut them?
I looked at her quizzically. 
She took me into the kitchen. 
Down each side of the seed, and then each side into tiny squares.
Then invert it and cut off the chunks. 
What happens to the fruit around the seed? I must have asked.
Because I remember her telling me that she'd eat it for sure if her kids didn't.

She'd grown up with these ones. 
The green ones.  The luxurious ones.
In the Philippines.
I'd grown up with the orange ones, I informed her. 
She didn't ask, but it was in Florida.
You prefer the ones you grew up with, she said.

I spent so much time at their house. 
Making simple meals like butter pasta, egg whites, and mac and cheese. 
I'd sit a plate of mac and cheese in front of her son and ask,
What do you say?
And he'd look at me quizzically. 

Quizzes. They plastered the wall in front of his seat at the table. 
Math quizzes.
Multiplication tables.

Something visceral would happen when I saw these quizzes. 

A son who wasn't told to say please and thank you
Was being groomed.
To exploit the education system. 
To become a doctor, like his parents.

They had notes on the wall reminding them to do all sorts of things.
Walking up from the basement: did you remember to shut the gate? 
This was the child-proof gate for their daughter who was well past the age of needing a gate now.
And on the door to the garage a list of everything they needed to bring to work.

Her son and I spent so many entire days together. 
Standing at the bus stop to get into town I'd think of little games: “I Spy” and “Guess the number I'm thinking of between one and ten.”
It was frequent enough that I'd befriended the bus driver. 

Our outings would be a trip the donut store (for my sake) and to McDonalds (his sake) and then maybe to the coffee shops (again, my sake) and then to the library, where he'd become engrossed in a comic book and sit and sit and sit and sit. 
And I'd, you know, do the same.

I'd wager that he was on the spectrum, but his parents never mentioned this. 
Aren't you married?  He'd randomly interject as we walked down the street between stations. 
Another time he invited me to his birthday party, which was six month out. 

Or, sometimes, we'd go to the arcade.
Once, I told her, he hadn't listened when I'd told him to meet me downstairs in the arcade. 
She said that I needed to get down, look him in the eye, and make sure he heard and understood.
This was one of his issues. 

I enjoyed being a voyeur in their home. 
They were people after my own heart. 
They didn't get a Christmas tree. 
They ate crap.  Lots of it.  Ice cream, mochi, cookies, candy, cake.
Once I saw her break off a piece of Hershey's chocolate before she left for work in the morning. 

She would pick me up and drop me off. 
A lot. 
She was so quiet. 
We'd talk movies.  We both watched a lot of those. 

I finally quit when it'd gotten to the point that I'd remind her repeatedly to pay me. 
A lot of other things were crumbling for me, too, and I needed a change.  

When I saw Lori Loughlin and the photos of her daughters on Page Six and all over amidst the college admission scandal, I didn't feel bad at all  
As I oftentimes do when I see someone trampled by the media. 

I think we all wince when developing a child's character is sidelined for developing his career.  
When parent sweat blood to ensure a boy who doesn't know to say thank you to his nanny will have enough to hire his own some day.

Now when I cut up mangoes I know how to do it right. 
It feels fluid and simple.  How had I not known this before?
But outside of that mango I don't know that she had much impact on me. 
It's been over a year now and I never find myself thinking about her or any of them. 

Except for those times when I do and I think, huh. 
She was such a part of my life. 
And now she's gone. 

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