Family Resemblance


April 3, 2010

“Canche! Que bonita su hija Fina!” Fina and I are standing outside the tortilleria, my absolute favorite spot in Santo Tomas. The woman speaking has coarse gray hair and dark wrinkled skin. I might say she is in her mid 70s judging by her looks but she’s probably around 60, and her agility reinforces that idea. “Blondie” she calls me. What a pretty daughter! A man standing nearby twists up his face in confusion and he says “su hija?” but then it relaxes into acceptance accompanied by a shrug of his shoulders as if to say, “Yeah I guess that could be.”

I don’t know if they really believe I am Fina’s daughter; perhaps her daughter in law, or maybe they’re just playing along with the act Fina and I have adopted, my role being hija importada (imported daughter). We laugh about it as we walk to the tienda to buy dog food for Rocky, and, inexplicably, the store clerk asks “Su hermana, Fina?” Your sister? Now, Fina and I may stick together like beans and rice but we certainly do not look alike. Maybe I’m tanner now but I’m certainly not morena and Fina likes to joke that I’m puro queso– white like mozzarella. My hair is blondish, my eyes are more than blue-ish. I think Fina was as bewildered as I was. Then the woman behind the clerk hits it on the nose, “Ella es de los Estados Unidos!” “Ah, si pues” I see, says the clerk. “Pero es mi hija.” says Fina. Si, pues.