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Old 12-03-2004, 02:32 PM   #34
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quicksilverwade is just really nice
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((Back in 1981, being called a "TJ" was not a good thing. If we didn't like what our friends or family wore, we'd say "you look like a TJ." Or, we'd say "I threw those old shirts away because they were too "TJ."))

"Then there's the Chicanos like us," said Buddha's friend, Carlos Tesillo. "We wear American fashion. Not too much Mexican heritage. But we don't forget our Mexican roots because we know we're Mexican. We never forget it. We take pride in it."

Buddha and Tesillo are football players. They are not hostile toward the students in TJ. In fact, they are friends with one of them, a football player named Domingo Beltran.

"Where's Domingo? The paisa?" Buddha asked his friends one day during lunch.

"Oh, he's over there kissing some paisa girl," another student replied.

Beltran, 17, grew up speaking Spanish. When he speaks English, he said, "I feel stupid." He is mainstreamed into English classes, but he regularly asks or answers questions in his first language, even when teachers demand English.
In the past, Beltran hung out only in TJ, at a shaded table near the lunch lines. Last year, he made the football team and his circle of friends expanded. Now, he traverses TJ, the border and Senior Park, always careful to divide the 40-minute lunch period among cliques.

"I spend lunch on both sides," he said. "I don't want my old friends to think I'm not their friend anymore."
On a recent afternoon, he crossed the border and stopped to talk to a group of old friends in TJ lounging and speaking Spanish near a fence.

They teased Beltran: "He got into football and he got really conceited," said Imelda Reyes, 15, giggling playfully.
"He's too cool for us," joked Sergio Gonzalez, 16.
Beltran shook his head and laughed it off.

He walked to another part of TJ, near the rusty bell. A soccer player passed him and slapped his hand. Beltran spoke to him in Spanish. Beltran told a visitor, "I'm thinking about trying out for the soccer team after the football season. But the [football players] would call me a traitor…. They say soccer is for Mexicans."

He walked to the shaded tables in TJ, stopping briefly to greet another group of boys before taking off for Senior Park. He waved to them and said: "Al rato," or later.
Within seconds of entering Senior Park, Beltran was intercepted by a group of JV football players. They patted him on the back, praising his gridiron skills. Then one boy joked: "Check his green card first."

The group cracked up. The boy looked at Beltran and added: "We're the ones who keep you from getting deported."
Again, Beltran shook his head and laughed it off.

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Last edited by quicksilverwade; 12-03-2004 at 02:49 PM..
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