I have wonderful news.
I’ve been adopted.
It started innocently enough, as I was taking an afternoon dip in the pool at my apartment complex after my Saturday volunteer gig at a local golf course. It being summer, I was a burnt to a crisp, dehydrated amalgam of suntan lotion and bug spray. I needed a body of water to slide myself into. The pool was at a crisp 92 degrees. Not that it mattered – it was wet. All I was looking for.
My apartment is the closest one to the pool, a literal 50-foot walk from my front door to the deep end. Thus, when I am in my apartment I can hear the sounds of the pool, and on a typical weekend I hear the splashing, kids laughing, maybe some music…and the chatter.
Incessant, rapid chatter.
The Cubans had taken over the pool.
Hey, I don’t care. It’s Miami and I’m a gringo.
So there I was in the pool surrounded by a very large, extended family of Cubans. There was grandma and grandpa in their lounge chairs. There were their offspring in their 20s and 30s with their children. In all, about 20 or so. They were cooking something on the grill which smelled divine. Two young girls were splashing in the pool, shouting, “Dale! Mira!” at each other. There were two guys animatively discussing something with interjections of, “Claro…pero…” There were the mothers with their babies slowly acclimating them to the water while the babies squealed with delight. I did not understand a single thing they were saying, but I totally knew what was going on. They were having fun.
And apparently they were celebrating something, because they all eventually got out of the pool and gathered around the grill and sang something which I guess was ‘Happy Birthday to You…’ in Spanish.
It was a nice scene. Then they got back in the water and finally noticed me, the prune-fingered gringo who hadn’t moved in over two hours. And we started talking. In English. Because, yes, they spoke English as well, and very well.
And we had a great time. They asked where I was from and I told them Ohio. They didn’t understand, so I said Akron…where LeBron James is from. “Ahhh Laybrrrro Yaymes! Bayskeetbol pllllayur!” And we had a nice talk about how people in Miami are all from somewhere else, including, obviously, them. I learned some Spanish and they learned some English slang. For example, I taught them the difference between “Y’all” and “You guys.” Which is basically, what part of the United States you’re from.
These are very loud people. Very animated. When someone shows up they all stop what they’re doing and yell in unison, “AYYYYY!!!!” When they talk it’s with machine-gun rapidity. It is never quiet.
Just like my blood Italian family.
So anyway. It was getting dark so I excused myself to go eat. It was a nice afternoon with the Cubans by the pool.
The next Saturday I was back at the pool after my golf work shift doing the same thing - hydrating.
And so were they. All of them. In their usual spots. Except this time, they saw me immediately as I walked through the gate. And they all went, “AYYYYY!!!!”
I was adopted.