Sometimes I like those shares my Facebook friends post for “Mexican problems” or “Latino Problems.” They tend to be really funny and mostly true. This little anecdote I am about to tell tends to fit into that category but really anyone who has parents who don’t speak English in this country can relate to it. See, my parents only speak Spanish and ever since I can recall, my siblings and I have had to translate information for them. We’ve all shared our duty of going to the doctors, the mechanic, or even to the grocery store in case they needed us to translate.
It really was no big deal for us as they are our parents. Yeah, sometimes when you’re a teen you don’t want to be the one telling your dad the doctor just said he might have cancer but that’s just the way it is sometimes. However, there are moments when translating for the parents can be awkward but incredibly funny. In my case, it involved my parents and Viagra. Yeah, Viagra!
It was and is very common for my mom to sometimes ask me to translate letters for her. So one day (I won’t say when), my mom gave me a letter in English from their health insurance provider. She said it was for my dad and for me to read it. I had read these letters before, and they were pretty standard letters explaining benefit changes – always the same thing, very boring information. So I took the letter and put it aside and began to watch TV. It lay on the sofa for a while. I ignored it purposely. Finally, my mom asked what the letter said and I said I’d read it soon. She scolded me so I read it.
My mom continued her normal routine – cooking and cleaning. I opened the letter. Pretty standard information: Name and address, ID number, etc. The letter opened with the usual sentence. “This letter is to inform you that Medical will no longer be covering the following medication: Viagra ….” Wait, what?! Be kind, rewind? Will no longer be covering Viagra? For my dad?! My eyes widened, I turned red, and started to laugh. Then my laughter immediately turned into anguish. How was I going to tell my mom that my dad would no longer be covered for Viagra? This information I did not need to know and I am sure they didn’t want me or anyone else to know.
(I have to take a minute to explain something about my dad. He has diabetes and takes medication for it as well as other medication and some of this medication, well, it affects the libido. Hence, the reason for his needed to take Viagra. End of explanation.)
Another thing, my parents are the strict Mexican Catholics, who attend church every Sunday, and never talk about sex. I mean never! We never had the birds and the bees conversation. If sex is on TV, we change the channel without hesitation (Latino Problems). I heard my mother ask me from the kitchen what the letter said. I panicked. I mumbled from the room and said a lot of ‘Ums’ and ‘Uhs.’ I took the letter with me and told her that the medication stated in the letter would no longer be covered. I didn’t mention which one but she kept insisting and insisting to tell her which one. Even in my adult age, I couldn’t say it. So I did the next best thing and pointed. She was annoyed and snatched the letter away from me. She looked at it and then at me. After realizing what it said, her face went from anger to embarrassment. We looked at each other and she quietly walked away with the letter and went to the room where my dad was at.
I could hear them whispering in their room. My mom came out and continued her normal routine – cooking and cleaning. I pretended like I knew nothing. It took my mom a while to ask me to translate a letter again. I’m guessing she screens them to see if Viagra is ever in any letter before she asks me or any of my siblings to translate. No one really wants to know their parent’s sexual needs or desires but it can be rather entertaining and comical in the least.