I finally got the strength to get home, where I called Divina and left a nasty message on his machine. Now Carlos thought I was a freak, and would probably never talk to me again.
The phone rang, and it was Armando, wanting to know how my date went. Before I even finished telling him about my disaster, he was offering me his own Plan, the one that I should have followed from the beginning.
"Listen, Raul, you went about it all wrong. Carlos is too manly to appreciate glamour. Let me come over and coach you on how to be a butch Chicano man."
In moments, Armando was at my house, wearing faded Levis, his Aztlán Nation T-shirt, and an Oakland Raiders baseball cap. He had just trimmed his black mustache and, even for him, looked particularly masculine -- almost like a man, as Divina would put it. "Ay, Raul, you always listen to that stupid bitch, Divina," he began, "and I always tell you he doesn't know anything that's not in between the covers of a fashion magazine."
"I know, Mando," I whined, "but Divina always sounds so convincing, I really thought that I could win Carlos that way. Now I don't know what I'm going to do."
Armando smiled warmly. "Raul, you have nothing to worry about, because I'm going to show you how to be a Chicano man, puro raza, and there's no way that Carlos will resist you. I know how nationalist he is, so when he sees and hears the new you, he'll be putty in your hands. But first, take off that awful makeup, and put on some real clothes. Carlos wants a compañero, not a drag queen."
I followed his suggestions and, after my face was freshly scrubbed, we sat on the couch--I with a notepad, and Mando glancing over at some football game he had found on the TV.
"Mando," I pleaded, "help me. Fuck the stupid game."
just a minute, ese, this is exciting." I noticed
he had a can of beer in his hand. It was some gross brand I had
never heard of.
"'Ta bueno," he began, turning to face me. "You need to quit paying so much attention to your appearance. Try not to think about your clothes, your hair, or anything like that. Butch Chicano men don't give a shit how they look. They only care about important shit." He peeked over at the game and waited for me to say something.
"But Mando, I don't know anything about football or what that has to do with puro raza. Carlos is really into school, and learning about Chicano history, and stuff like that. I know that, but what does that have to do with snatching him from his straight life? Give me some concrete advice, something I can use." I was actually starting to think that Armando was on to something. He seemed to know a lot about how straight Chicano men thought.
"Ese, first of all, don't talk so much. Chicano straight men don't like to talk--unless they're drunk. That's it, Raul! Go drinking with him, it's a sure-fire thing. What's more raza than getting drunk together--two compadres getting fucked up and getting close. Yeah, go drinking with him and make sure he gets drunk."
This sounded risky. "Mando, what the hell are you talking about? I don't even know if Carlos drinks."
"What?!" Armando was outraged. "Of course he drinks, pendejo; he's Chicano, isn't he? He's not all vendido and new age. Of course he drinks! And all you have to do is get him drunk. Talk to him about la raza and how hard life is for our people. Get all sentimental and emotional; talk about what our parents went through to give us the privileges we have. He'll be so worked up and tender and drunk, it'll be a snap to seduce him. All Chicano men are gay when they're drunk."
This was going too far. "What do you mean, Mando? I can't get him drunk and then pounce on him. I don't want him that way. I want it to be romantic."
"What can be more romantic than getting drunk? You know, drink ice cold beer, listen to Los Panchos, get all teary and shit. Talk about how much you miss Texas. All you have to do is get him drunk and get him to own up to how he feels about you, then there'll be no turning back. He'll thank you for it, he really will. You know Chicano men need help to know what's best for them."
"But how can I take him drinking now? He thinks I'm some kind of freak!"
"Aw, you know Carlos is no cabrón. Just call him--he won't even mention it. I'm sure he'll act like nothing ever happened. I tell you, butch Chicano men can't talk about shit unless they're drunk. Come on, chica, call him. I promise you it'll go great."
"Well, it's just because I'm so desperate that I'll do it," I said as I reached for the phone. The more I thought about it, the more this Plan seemed kind of promising. When Carlos answered, I confidently set a date for drinks the next Friday. When I hung up, Armando was smiling, and gave me the (butch) Chicano handshake before he left to work on his transmission.