Cafe Hitch-hike


Viva la Reina

Or, Long Live the Queen

I had a dream that I was summoned to a parade in my hometown. I served as Mexican Queen in 1993 to a local cultural group in my hometown, and the group wanted past queens to be on a float. I got the invite from Araceli, who was the queen before me. We both weren't sure what it was about, but we agreed to go. I donned my white sash with the green and red embroidered letters Mexican Queen, and also the little tiara they gave me when my term ended. I also wore a simple spring dress and heels, and then headed to the float.

I rarely think about that time in my life, and it came to me as easily as a good friend. I dug out the sash from my box of memories, but the tiara didn't survive the multiple moves over the years. I put on the sash again and looked at myself in the mirror. As queen, I introduced people on stage at fiestas. I attended meetings of the cultural group, about 3 parades, and 2 political forums. I also was in a photo shoot with my court and was on local TV. I gave a speech to middle school kids where I (tried to) encourage them to do well with school.

This position also had try-outs. I was encouraged by multiple people, including a couple of people in the cultural group. I had to submit my grades, a letter or 2 of recommendation, and write about my aspirations. I was interviewed by a panel. I also had to wear folkloric attire and an evening gown (but no swimsuit, hahah). I then had to give a speech on stage.

I actually did not get selected. Someone else did, but 3 months into her term, she decided to leave town to be with her boyfriend who was in college across the state. She couldn't make the events (and expected the group to pay for her bus ticket back to town). She also got pregnant soon after she moved. With that, I got the crown, so to speak, and then I began my regal duties!

In addition to all the things I had to do, the position met with adequate intrigue. I was criticized because most people didn't think I looked very Mexican, and some were appalled that I couldn't speak fluent Spanish. Then, the family who ran the cultural group had very low regard for both sides of my family, and also didn't like my mentor. The final slap in the face was when the cultural group refused to give me the $600 scholarship that went with being the queen. I couldn't even respond to the group's accountant after she told me they were under no obligation to fulfill it, and since they knew I received enough financial aid, they didn't feel I needed it and should just scram. Well, well, that was the thanks I got for my efforts!

My mentor and the head of the Mexican cultural group worked at my local college, and they both reported to the same Grand Pubah. I told my mentor what had happened and he reported it to the GP. The head of the group was reprimanded for what he did, and the GP was able to get me the scholarship from a different source. I was grateful for the GP and my mentor, but told the cultural group they could go stuff it. Soon after, I transferred to University of the Rust Belt State. I didn't think much about being queen after that because of the bullshit.

Then, about 27 years later, I dreamed I was called back. While I was queen, I practiced public speaking and interviewing beforehand. The day after the dream, I donned the sash and looked in the mirror to practice introducing myself. When I finished my spiel, I looked back at what I said. Those weren't bad things to say at all. If anything, it was a hell of a lot better than what a lot of these so-called role models would say about themselves. I concluded that despite the cultural group being the real class acts, they had the right person for the position.

Despite anything they did or said, or whatever others thought, I was able to think about the positive parts of being queen. I'm surprised how much a sash, crown, and smile disarmed people. I didn't feel particularly queen-like, but people often smiled or their expression changed when I'd appear that way. My hair and makeup was so thickly lacquered that even a wintry Michigan gust couldn't move my style (yeah, I know because I froze my ass off on a damn float in windy, 40-degree weather at the end of November). Yeah, I dressed as sharply as I could when I made appearances. I did it to represent the cultural group, and I wanted to be a teacher at the time; it actually was for the kids, too.

I posted the dream on my social media. I took a picture of me with the sash and added pics from 1993. I was surprised how many relatives responded to it! Different people had different memories of it, and I was so touched to see what they had to say. My cousins remembered the parades, my sister remembered a black dress I wore for it, and my uncle remembered when the local TV station caught me at the parade...

...What happened in that occasion was Uncle Joe gave my cousin Kenna some roses to give to me as our parade float came around. The parade marshall let my cousin through, and she presented me with the roses as we drove by. The local TV station had it camera, and about 2 second later had the camera in my face. I smiled big and waved. "Merry Christmas, and Feliz Navidad," I beamed. My name appeared under the my image, and then came the next parade scene.

Even though it was 27 years ago, it made me feel a bit like I was queen all over again. They were my memories, but they also belonged to others. I didn't know they remembered or how it touched them. I even got a couple remarks, 'you were a good queen... you still are a queen.'

It felt so good to take all the happier parts of the experience back, and to reclaim it as mine rather than letting it stay closer to my memories of those haters. I almost can't believe it really was mine (and could had been all this time).

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