CHAPTER #1: “The Hermit, the Harlot & Me”
He was born with only one testicle and she was chronically ill as a child.
So, I guess I’m lucky to be alive. He moved to New York City from Puerto
Rico when he was eight and forever missed the island, while she came from
P.R. too, but never looked back. They were both high school dropouts who
smoked too many cigarett es, each belonging to large and loud Catholic
families living in urban poverty and chaos.
The hermit met his harlot one night at a party he didn’t want to be at.
She noticed him first and cast her spell from across the room. He was barely
twenty and she was only eighteen when they got married at a big church in
the South Bronx in 1959. The harlot wasn’t a virgin, but at least she wasn’t
pregnant like many of the young girls on her block.
They honeymooned in D.C. for a couple of days before the hermit
had to return to his base as a Marine. He’d convinced his harlot that a
dutiful Puerto Rican wife is supposed to follow her husband anywhere.
So, there they were, living in a cramped tin can trailer, launching their
Semper Fi life.
Eighteen months and many fights later, they’d managed to make a baby
and so along I came, crowned as the first grandchild on my mother’s side.
The reception on my father’s side was not as welcoming.
In a futile attempt to gain favor with his madre, my father named me after
his mother, even though he knew my mom despised her mother-in-law.
His madre’s dislike of the harlot was well known too. Maybe that’s why the
woman spent her life ignoring me to the point that all I remember about her
was the mole on her face.
A few months later, the hermit was away too much while practicing his
cold war military exercises. He loved the military life and wanted to make it
his career even though his harlot wife felt trapped in her stereotypical P.R.
life. She’d grown tired of her macho husband who dictated her every move
and always demanded that she obey.
So, family folklore has it that the night he came home and confessed he’d
had sex with a prostitute during the Bay of Pigs invasion, his harlot cracked
the hermit’s shell forever. He begged forgiveness, but the harlot used his
confession as the excuse she needed to escape their sardine trailer and get
back to the Bronx…