- Mar 12, 2011 • 07:24h
- 7 comentarios
I was taking a test in my 12th grade French class when a bright red drop of blood splashed onto the page. For some unknown reason, my nose was bleeding.
For the next few weeks my right nostril would become, without any provocation, a fire hose that sprayed out my blood without any consideration for me, my reputation or whether I had any tissue.
This went on for a while not because we lived in the Amazon or on a deserted island but because my mother was Cuban.
And somewhere in ye big olde book of Cuban beliefs, voodoo spells and nonsensical customs there’s a whole chapter dedicated to a case of a bloody nose. This book is also filled with fun facts and helpful tips like “don’t walk barefoot on cold floors or your ovaries will fall out.” But, unfortunately for me, the cure for a continuously bloody nose made no mention of visiting a doctor.
My brain was always too logical for my family’s Cuban nonsense. I couldn’t pray to a saint to help find a better parking spot and I was always against casting a spell to help advance my love life. Cuban black magic is overflowing with enchantments to help you get a lover back or get a new lover or get back at a lover or even how to hurt your lover’s new lover. All you have to do is put a photograph of a your lover’s new lover in a glass of water, say a few words, drop in a couple of seashells and just sit back and wait for a piano to fall on her head.
This is where I start to wonder if I was adopted or switched at birth because my mind kicks into a series of questions:
Are we talking distilled water?
Can it be a Polaroid?
Black or white?
What if there’s someone in the background of the photograph?
Will a piano fall on their head too?
My god, why take such a risk!
So when I got in the car and told my mother why I had dried-up crusted blood all over my face I was surprised when we didn’t drive straight to the doctor’s office.
Instead, she said “Oh, that means your Godmother has to give you a key,” as she casually made the left turn away from my school. My logical brain sat there dumbfounded and tried to break down the sentence.
My Godmother. Has to give me. A key.
All I had were questions… Why does my mother know this right off the top of her head? What does she have against doctors? What does my Godmother have to do with anything? When I was switched at birth was I also dropped on my nose?
According to Cuban nonsensical belief #427, when you have a nose bleed that won’t stop, your Godmother has to give you a golden key for you to wear around your neck. This key would intrinsically have the power to “lock the door” that had been opened in your nostril and the bleeding would stop. Naturally.
I’d like to go to Cuba one day and find out who wrote the book of Cuban beliefs, probably J. K. Rowling. Because the solution may as well have been “stir in a dragon’s tooth and the feather of a baby owl and put on a pointed hat while you KILL ME” because I had to live with this bloody nose for 5 weeks waiting for my Godmother to come back from a trip, return my mother’s calls, find the time to track down a golden key and give it to me.
I’d be sitting there minding my own business watching TV and a steady stream of blood would glide down my lips and chin. At school, my nose bled on the sign-in sheet as I passed it to the guy in front of me who also happened to be a hottie I had a painful crush on. I wanted to die as he held the paper from one of the corners with a disgusted look on his face. At home, I spent hours with my head tilted back and toilet paper crammed into my nostrils. I can still taste the blood going down my throat as I cursed Cuba, Castro and black beans.
Finally, one day my mother took me to a cheesy jewelry store/pawn shop and said “Your Godmother is not doing well right now. She can’t afford to buy you the key.” She then asked for and bought a small gold key charm. I thought finally! We can be done with this key thing and go see a doctor when it doesn’t work.
But it wasn’t over. When we left I noticed we weren’t driving home, we were headed to my Godmother’s house.
My brain did the new math: We bought the key + key still has to be presented to me by my Godmother = this is a sham.
We walked into my Godmother’s house with the antidote in a little plastic zip lock bag. My Godmother Aida was tall thin woman with jet black hair. She and my mother both lived in the same neighborhood when they arrived from Cuba. Somewhere between the Miami River, Downtown and Little Havana. A Bermuda Triangle of poverty but also of hope where the most important years of my mother’s life played out.
With the stateliness of an Olympic ceremony my mother took the necklace out of the bag with the small innocent golden key swinging on it. She handed it to my godmother who then placed it around my neck.
Three days later, I sat in a chair as my doctor used his otoscope to look inside my nose. “There’s a vein that needs to be cauterized.” He then put a thin hot wooden stick in my nose and it was over. The hose was shut off. The door was closed.
My mother and I never talked about the key. I never told her “You see of course it didn’t work.” Instead, I wore the key around my neck throughout most of college.
I liked it because it was pretty but also because whether I wanted to admit it or not, I hadn’t been adopted and deep inside, there’s always a part of me that wants to believe in my mother’s nonsense and in the Cuban book of customs and in the magic of a key. If it had worked it meant that we weren’t so insane and that I still had a chance.
Foto: to ride a white horse, en Flickr.