Girls don’t play sports, the boy says to Reinaas he crumples up his sandwich tin-foilinto a firm, silver ball. Except for Olivia.But Olivia is American.Reina whips her neck to glare at me,I am guarding the wicket,ready to bruise whatever the boy throwsbefore she can whisper dyke into the wind.
The only thing I brought from Americaare four scabs and a ten-dollar gift cardfor international phone calls.My father walks me to school every dayuntil he buys a 1989 Nissan station wagonthat smells like wet towels.
Reina is upset that I am Americanand not rich. These two detailsdisrupt everything Reina has everbeen made to believe in the church of MTV.Along with a new American best friend,Reina wanted a new American best friend’s mom—a suburban queen—and a new American best friend’s brotherwho would take her to second base in our basement.Unfortunately for Reina, we don’t have a basement,we live in the Sunset Motel on Tragarete Roadwhere I collect snails and eat chickenand ketchup sandwiches for dinnerand this, of course, makes me a lesbian.
I walk to Long Circular Mall and buy a gold, plastic rosaryfrom the quarter machine,decide I will come to school the next day, rich.Reina says I can sit with her at lunchas long as I never play cricket againand I tell her it was just a phase.
The thing about pretending to be rich,is you can lie all you want,about the helicopter or the vacations,but it’s the tiny details—the way you call your maidby only her first name as if she were the family dog—that sculpt the language of money.I know, no matter how many times I speak of Mary,my imaginary helper, I can’t spit her outlike I would if I were a rich girl,if she were a real womanwho dressed me every morning.
I sit with Reina and watch her eatgrape seed rolls and drink fresh juice.I haven’t played cricket in three weeks.I take a bite of my mayonnaise sandwichand complain about Mary’s cooking.The boys sweat at the other end of the yardand the blacktop shines.
Reina says I am lucky that the boys let me play,because the pitcher is the cutest guy in school.She asks if I will teach her the gameand I tell her I don’t really know the rules.Americans don’t play cricket, I sayI just know to hit and run.And I know this is the right answerbecause she repeats it under her breath.
American’s don’t play cricket,American’s don’t play cricket,I don’t play cricketbecause my best friend is American,better than you, better than your stupid game.