POST: 'Prospect' - Retro Santaria, the best way to describe the vibe
What's it about?
Scout, a computer programmer, decides to take a day off and gets more than he bargained for.
What'd I experience?
Unholy hell. I got food poisoning for an entire week and I would totally wish that on my worst enemy, because I'm pretty sure I died and was resurrected for three of those seven days #Jesus?
Now that my body decided to remain alive (thanks a**hole), Prospect ended up being my first trip without carrying around an IV bag. Yay.
Seriously though, this play was some Quentin Tarantino shit. Living in NYC is reason enough to justify meeting some of the freakiest people that probably exist, but it also blinds me from thinking about all the hidden crazy shit that happens in places like... Texas. I honestly felt like I was watching Pulp Fiction on acid.
Retro Santeria, that is the best way to explain the vibe of this story. 80’s music blasted right from the very beginning, out comes a woman clad in a skintight dress and high stilt-like heels, Liza, under strobing lights and then, all of a sudden, a loud clash fills the room. A completely inebriated man in a khaki suit, Scout, comes in speaking (more like cry talking) in some really incoherent Spanish. Comparing myself to a drunk person is never a good idea but Scout, overall as complicated human being, reminded me a lot of myself and the relationship I have with my roots.
So, Scout is actually Mario. He was born in the U.S. but his parents are from Mexico. Even after clearly having spoken in Spanish, when Liza asks what he just said he quickly switches back to English and completely denies knowing any Spanish. That was me 5 years ago (granted, I really did lose most of my knowledge of Spanish I still understood a lot), I became scared of using the language because of what I thought it represented. At the time I was in that awkward stage of figuring myself out and for a lot of time I found speaking Spanish really tedious and didn’t care to re-learn the language. The ugly memory was triggered because Scout had the same tendencies I did when I faced any situation that involved Spanish. Deny, deny, deny. Doing anything to avoid speaking in Spanish was my main concern, what I realize today is that I was also denying where I came from.
Like I said before Scout is really complicated. He is haunted by his late grandmother (you could even say literally, if you believe in santeria) as well as tormented by his culture. I mean changing his name from Mario to Scout is pretty straight forward when it comes to disregarding a part of who he is. Coming from a Spanish background, I know that names are often given after very careful evaluation of who a parent wants their child to be in the future. I myself am named after a women I have never met nor know anything about but what my mother tells me. She was a secretary at a factory my mum worked at, and I am told she is a beautiful and vibrant women who dedicated her life to helping others. I know that my mum tells me this with the hope that I will take responsibility over becoming someone like her. Scout and I shared the same crappy process of coming to realize that doing things like changing a name, or denying a parents native tongue can really hurt them.
As Scout’s night progresses Liza befriends him offering a ride home. Soon thereafter, Vince, a ‘friend’ of Liza’s, joins the party. Eventually everyone ends up at Vince’s front door, drunker than I thought humanly possible, and that’s where we meet Red. Red is Vince’s wife and the funniest cancer patient I have ever seen. Having seen one of my very own family members die as a result of cancer and having my grandfather survive (twice!), I’ve come to the conclusion that three things become essential to surviving the disease: faith, the will to live, and a morbid sense of humor.
Red is all that and some more, which always makes for an interesting person. The small apartment has a sort of religious vigile thing in the corner of the living room that is littered with God-related candles, rosaries and holy images of Mary. That’s really where I got the santeria vibe, nothing was extreme about the little set up it was just naturally what I related it to because it’s such a normal thing for people of my culture to have - mostly grandmas.
Scout is pretty disoriented throughout most of the night, but as soon as he sees Red he becomes enraptured with her. Cancer’s goal always seems to be, to infect not only a person anatomy but also rot the person's soul. Red didn’t allow that. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, but it’s very apparent Red is trying to do the best she can with the shit deal she got from life. Amongst all the different turns that the night had taken for Scout it seemed as if he was meant to end up in Red’s home. Red, being a white women, Scout didn’t expect her to know any Spanish, but as soon as she utters her first word he immediately knows who she reminds him of. His grandmother, Rosita.
As a child Scout/Mario had already become a little too proud about being born in the US, so much so that it broke his grandma’s heart to see that her grandchildren didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. Being a diabetic, it was no surprise that one night she called out for Scout/Mario after she was having some trouble breathing. Being a scared kid with no clue what to do, he guided her to a nearby park and put her on a carousel. That’s when Rosita started asking Mario why he never answers her or speaks to her. Seeing the grown Scout recall that conversation was almost as agonizing as it must have been to see someone die before your eyes. When Rosita told him that her greatest pain was being far away from her home and from her people, I immediately remembered what I’ve named the ‘free nanny deal’ that I've grown to hate so much.
I see it happen all the time, people bringing over parents from their home country to the US just to pick up their kids from school and essentially be a live in nanny that never gets paid. I understand the intention is often to bring them over so they can also reap the benefits of being in what people often see America as - paradise. The truth is that it’s cruel, to bring elderly people that don’t really wanna come to a foreign country to a foreign country for some free labor. It completely takes them out of their element and what they have known all their life, just about the worst ending to life (I think). So, Rosita is totally justified in craving to hear at least one little word in Spanish to come from her grandson's mouth, so that she can die knowing that her culture will not leave the world even though she will. Since life is cruel Rosita never gets that, what she hears instead is Scout yelling out for her to speak in English. What I found the most beautiful thing about this story was seeing that Red, a woman on her deathbed, was the only one capable of helping Scout get his life back.