‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of hips as wide as the Panama Canal and knockers that could pass as cantaloupes must be in want of a husband.’–Jane Austen (er, as paraphrased by me)
Whenever I visited families, there was always a group of women whose curious brown eyes assessed me covertly, taking the measure of my character and noting the ample acreage of my hips. Upon discovering that I was a single mother, their eagerness to see me wed into their family only increased. Over time, their covert gazes turned into outright interrogation as these Latina mamas began a stealthy campaign to have me married to any eligible bachelor that lingered about their family tree. At first I thought I could easily evade their attempts at matchmaking–not ready to tie the knot quite yet–but I soon discovered that their methods rivaled those of any seasoned military officer.
Stage 1: The Interrogation
“So, maestra,” Maria, the mother of two of my high schoolers innocently asks, “you’re not married, are you?”
“No, I’m not married,” I respond. I notice a glance pass between Maria and Maria’s sister, Sofia. “Some day I’d like to be married, though.”
“You’ve dated before?” she continues a little more aggressively.
“Yes, I’ve dated before,” I say a bit defensively. “I’m just focusing on my career right now, not on my personal relationships.”
Maria smiles sweetly and continues to pry, “You do find Latino men attractive, no?”
I stare at her, mouth slightly agape, unsure of when the conversation took this turn.
Sensing my hesitation, Maria laughs lightly and leans toward me conspiratorially. “Oh, come now, maestra. We are all women here. You can tell us that you honestly think.”
“Yes maestra,” Sofia, chimes in with a sideways glance at her sister, “what do you think of our Latino men?”
Cautiously, I respond with what I hope is a diplomatic answer, “I find the Latino people to be a handsome people.”
Apparently not satisfied with my response, Maria walks to the bookshelf on the far side of the room and reaches for a well-worn photo album. Flipping through the pages, she finds what she is looking for and says rather impatiently, “Here, look at him.”
She hands me a photograph of a smiling Latino man standing next to her husband in a photo taken somewhere in Mexico. “Don’t you think he is a handsome man?” she asks smiling sweetly pointing to the photo in my hand.
Two can play this game, Maria, I think to myself. Smiling innocently at her, I reply, “Yes, your husband is a handsome man.” I point at photos of her children on the wall and add, “You have beautiful children, too.”
I can see she is beginning to lose patience with me but before she can demand another answer, her husband calls from the kitchen, “Maria, the timer!”
Gratefully, I use this distraction as an excuse to check my watch.
“Oh, my,” I say with feigned surprise. “It’s 4:12? Already? I really must be leaving for another appointment I just remembered I have.” With a polite smile and hurried good byes, I make it to my car and out of the parking lot in less than two minutes.
I ponder Maria’s strategy and think to myself, She’s good. But I won today.
Maria 0, me 1
Stay tuned for part 2 of “In which I almost become someone’s tia” and find out how Maria used foot soldiers (aka her children) to try and break down my defenses.
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