I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen to be specific, during the best era of television in American history: the ’90s. Hopefully things have changed since I was kid, because back then there were two things you could be: white and wealthy or poor and Mexican–I was all but wealthy. Turns out people have mixed feelings about a poor white Hispanic kid, so I played with the poor kids in my neighborhood, and I sat with the rich white kids in class.
My parents had two dogs, two cats, and two birds, while they enjoyed the company of those pets, I had to feed, bath, and clean up all their piss and shit. And because the dogs were always playing outside, coupled with my inability to bath them well, the house was always filled with fleas (which was really good compared to other houses which were infested with roaches). They were absolutely impossible to kill, everything we tried failed, and one year the situation was particularly bad, so I was always scratching at my hair.
In History class we didn’t have our desks set up in rows, they were arranged four to a group, so you had to face three other people. In the back of class by the window, one particularly sunny day, the teacher was lecturing on culture, when my scalp started itching. I started scratching my head and when I tilted it down to take notes a flea fell to my desk. I brought my hand to quick point and lowered my index finger on the beast before he could bounce away, crushing him into the desk. All while my rich white classmates stared at my finger with a look of unimaginable horror and disgust, as if I’d just snapped the neck of fluffy little bunny rabbit.