Beauty Sleep & Growing Pains by Estela Caballero

Peppy pepinos

I can never resist the tangy sourness of cucumbers drowned in lemon juice, Tapatio sauce and salt.  Those three ingredients can go on almost anything– popcorn, mango, watermelon, oranges, slices of lemons (yes lemon juice on lemons).

I once tried something I saw one of my aunts do–  sprinkle the contents of lemon Kool-Aid on anything you would add lemon juice and salt to.  I had a near death experience and figured I hadn’t been introduced to this potent mix early enough in life to live through another attempt.

On my first visit back to California after we moved to Washington I was introduced to these unnaturally large pickles they sold at every corner store.  They sat floating in a glass jar that could have easily fit one of the small pigs we used to butcher to celebrate birthdays, baptisms or for the pure love of chicharrones.  The lady behind the counter would grab the pickle with tongs and hand the beast to you in a triangle of flimsy wax paper.  It was not meant to be a long term storage or transport container–  you had better eat that pickle before you made it home.  They weren’t the prettiest things around and the longer they were exposed to the open air, the more questionable your choice of the pickle over Boston Baked Beans and Lemon Heads became.  Years of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid sprinkled on almost anything had dulled the senses of my aunt, who was only a few years older than me along with the gang of cousins that joined me in trailing her to the store.  I believed her when she said the pickles were the best.  They must be, she always got one whenever my grandma gave her spare change.  She was tall and beautiful and I wanted to be jus like her.  With my quarter on the counter I pointed to the pickles and readied myself for the magical experience I was hoping not only tasted great but also made me grow a few inches over night and straighten out my two front teeth.  My aunt had perfect teeth.

I finished that first monster pickle before clearing the front door of the house.  “What’s wrong?” my mom asked as I rushed by her to the bathroom with the sourness of 10 packs of bitter Kool-Aid burning everything from my nostril hairs to my tonsils.  “Growing pains” I shouted between hurls and a grin over the  surprise they would all be marveling  over tomorrow when I arose from my beauty sleep surely transformed.

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