(Best read with Papua New Guinea Kegabah Estate and a classic coffee cake.)
The feast of St. Anthony only comes once a year. I think it’s in the Fall, but can never remember exactly when. One day the trucks pull up in the paved school yard carrying the scissor barrel ride, the swings, kiddy rides and a wild mouse. Booths go up with spinning wheels painted with numbers that matched the numbers on the board table on the front of the booth where we bet the coins Monsignor Martin threw to us. We scrambled for the pennies—if you were lucky you found a nickel. It was really hard to concentrate on school work from then on. We would be let out early that day—2 p.m.
Last night we finished the novena to Our Lady of Fatima—nine evenings of prayers and songs of devotion. Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua—San Antonio do Padua. Even though our parish is dedicated to All Saints (actually Our Lady of All Saints), St. Anthony is the patron saint. I always thought he was Portuguese—San Diego (Saint Didacus) was. So was San Luis Obispo—well, he was from the Iberian peninsula—that put him in the ball park, at least. My mother told me that I have a good voice when we sing the hymns in Latin and Portuguese. I sparkle with the compliment but really am already tasting pan con soupos and strawberry soda. The festa will last three days—three days of rides, gambling and too much food. That was our definition of ecstasy.
This year I’ve saved my money. My sister saves everything she gets and writes it down in her little account book. I’m perpetually broke. Everyone knows that if I have any money, which is rare, all they have to do is ask me and I’ll “lend” it to them. No one ever pays me back. Everyone at school has more than I do. I guess that’s why they don’t think it’s such a big deal to just forget about it. I know that if I get stuck, I can ask either my sister or my cousin Ed to “lend” me money for this event. The last day of the festa is the auction. My mother has finally conceded that if I use my own money and win, I can have the animals that are always auctioned.
Read more of this small-town vignette here: http://community.livejournal.com/chaos_zine/5720.html