At my favorite deli — where I get my fix for homemade beans and rice — one of the female workers always tells me the latest woes of her life as she scoops the beans over piles of rice.  I love listening to her stories because, even though they are filled with horrors and heartache, she relays the truth of her station with such strength and magnificence that you cannot help but be drawn into her plight and root
for her.

Her husband has some sort of blood disease that the doctors cannot pinpoint.  As he gets sicker and sicker, all she can do is take him to the hospital for pain relief.  Her husband was recently granted a Social Security disability, so at least the money he lost from being unemployed for two years is finally getting earned back into the family.

She has ongoing and serious “woman trouble” — those stories always begin with her pointing the beans ladle at her vagina and mouthing the words, “down there” and end with one really long sentence.

Her young daughter is also “cursed” with the same “down there” trouble — as are all the women on her side of the family — and the women in her family give birth to girls and not boys.

I asked her the other day, “If you had it to do all over again, would you have had your daughter?”

I was shocked when she shook her head.  “No, my daughter already suffers and who wants worry or doctors… but that’s her life and we know I’m not long for this earth and every girl in my family thinks they’ll outrun it and none of us ever did… we all die young and we leave behind big families and I’m starting to think it’s selfish for us to keep having kids like we do and it shoulda stopped with me.”

She handed me a Styrofoam container overflowing with my rice and beans and said, “Sometimes, you really are better off dead.”


  1. I wonder how her daughter feels about that and how she will feel about that in years to come.

  2. It takes guts to write this David, in fact I wanted to run away while reading it but somehow managed to stick around and finish….

  3. I wonder, Gordon, if it will stop with her daughter? From what I understand from previous conversations is the women in her family suffer and vow not to pass along the curse of suffering in a shortened life — but then they get touched with the idea that maybe it won’t happen again — that is, until it happens again. I guess there’s enough of a genetic marker now to predict what will happen and to pretend it won’t happen again begins to get harder and harder as generations are born and then too quickly die away.

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