El Lavadero era el sitio de lavar los calcetines. With this instrument, my mother stressed how we would remain Mexican at heart. I was raised in a microcosm environment mirroring the lifestyle of El Rancho. I ate Mexican quesadillas, sopes, tortas, enchiladas, pozole, pan dulce, arroz con leche, danced quebraditas, went to church, prayed and cleaned like a Mexican.
In the backyard my mom placed a lavadero made out of stone to wash clothes by hand and line dry the clothes. My mom used to say, “The washer and dryer waste too much energy.” I always thought to myself, “Then, why’d you buy it?” “I wish I could use the washer and dryer so I could watch the Saturday morning cartoons. I wonder what the Rescue Rangers are doing. I love those little squirrels. “But noooooo, I have to watch my scrunchy socks and Flintstone shirts outside on a rock with spiders and the manguera.”
The lavadero was placed in a shady part of the backyard near the lemon tree and the tangerine tree, next to the yerba buena. Washing clothes with water from the hose usually made my dainty little hands cold, so I wore gloves and one of her humdrum aprons from 1980 that she probably got at Drug Emporium. My sister did the same. She wore gloves and an apron. The difference between her and I, is that she liked to wash socks. My sister and I would take turns scrubbing the clothes while the other would rinse, wring, and hang to dry.
One day, while my mom was busy ignoring us, I started discussing my chores with my sister. I asked her, “Hey, do any of your friends wash their clothes in the backyard?” My sister responded, “I don’t know.” Then I said, “I asked Prieta and Flaka if they wash their clothes outside and they said they’re mom washes their clothes for them!” My sister said, “sssshhhhhh, don’t let my mom hear you. So what do we do?” I said, “I’m gonna tell her it’s not fair. My other friends don’t wash their clothes so we shouldn’t have to wash our clothes either, it’s her job.” My sister said, “She’s gonna get mad.” I said, “But, it’s not fair.” My mom walked over to us, “Are you almost done?” I said “Yes.” Then she said “No you’re not.” I stood my ground, looked her straight in the eyes, rolled my head and whipped my ponytail in the air with my hand on my hip. “Yes, I am.” She said, “No, you’re not.” I said, “Yea, I’m gonna watch Chip n’Dales Rescue Rangers.” She said, “No, I don’t think so.” I said, “I’m done. My friends at school don’t wash clothes outside so I’m not going to either.” She said, “En mi casa tú haces lo que yo te diga.” She grabbed my dainty little frigid hand, dipped it into the cold bucket of water and made me wash more socks. My sister said, “I told you.”