Archive | 11:57 PM

Sometimes Being Richie Cunningham is Not a Good Thing

7 May

While growing up my sister and I were part of a very strict household. It wasn’t so much because we were wild and crazy. It was the neighborhood. There were no white picket fences or people playing hacky-sack on front lawns.  It was the kind of urban neighborhood that taught you street smarts very quickly. So curfew was a big deal.

Now I’d like to tell you that I made it home by curfew every day. But sadly no. It wasn’t so much that I was out there partying it up. No. I would just lose track of time on the basketball or volleyball courts. It happened. Then I would have to invent some elaborate story of how the bus got a flat tire, or how it took a detour because of construction, or how some crazy aliens came down X-Files style and we were being questioned by officials.

My sister on the other hand was always on time no matter what. Not a minute later. Not a second later. In fact sometimes she was early. She was conscientious that way, like Richie Cunningham.

But me … I was the one who was always late. A little or a lot. Late was late. But hey … I got there right? I was a good kid. But for some reason I always had to prove that. I was the youngest so people often underestimated me. For some reason, they had low exceptions, so I was constantly surprising people with my awesomeness in general. But regardless of what a good kid I was, rules were rules.

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Curfew was curfew in this Latino household. Even when we graduated high school and went off to college. Just because you came home for a visit didn’t mean you lived by college rules.  Rules never changed in the Latino household. Curfew was still curfew, the time was just a little later. However one rule remained the same — we always came home at night. No sleepovers anywhere … regardless.

So when my sister and I went out together, my mom felt confident that we would be back in time for curfew. We never went out together, but for some reason she asked me to hang out with her after our softball game and against my better judgement I said yes. I mean they were her friends, not mine. But I didn’t want to go home yet, so I said yes.

All of a sudden Richie Cunningham decides to get hammered at her friend’s house. Throughout the night I remind my sister that it was getting late — that we should get going. But she waves me off as she’s hanging out with Potsie and Ralph Malph over in the corner. So I let her do her thing. 

Before you know it I dozed off and fell asleep on the Lazy-Boy recliner. I wake up around 2:30 a.m. freaked out. Everyone is passed out with Bartles & James and Jose Cuervo bottles lying around everywhere.

I try to shake her awake, but she remains sleeping. I yell in her ear, nothing. So I get a cup of water and splash her face. She wakes up.

“Get up. We have to go home.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s time to get your ass off the floor and give me the car keys.”

“I don’t think you guys should be going anywhere. It’s really late.”

“I don’t think you know our mom. Put your shoes on. We got to go.”

“It’s really late. It’ll be safer if you stay and then drive in the morning.”

“It’ll be safer for my ass if I go now, with my sister. Get up.”

“Do you think it’ll be safe if your parents see her like this?”

“I think we should stay,” my sister says.

So I was overruled. I then suggested that we at least call to let my parents know we weren’t coming home. My sister told me it wasn’t a good idea. She said there was no way our parents would let us break rule number one. They’d probably drive out here in the middle of the night, our crazy mom would make a scene, and we would definitely not hang out with her friends again.

So there it was … we broke the rule and as I lay there in the Lazy-Boy I feared for my life. I did not know what would happen when we got home. I couldn’t believe my sister was sleeping. I knew we messed up. Me … I knew the magnitude of this disaster. I could only imagine the possible you-need-to-care moment upon our arrival. I couldn’t sleep.

My sister … there she was sleeping away. 

I was on edge. I was stressed out. I probably got my first gray hair right then and there from all the worrying about what awaited us — from the dangerous unknown.

As we walked up the driveway at 7 a.m. we saw my dad leaving for work. He shook his head, gave us the speech, told us he was upset, told us the conversation wasn’t over, told us he was glad we were still alive and then wished us luck.


“Yeah. Your mother is waiting for you.”


We entered and she was sleeping on the couch in her pajamas. As we made our way in, my heart was pounding, my stress level was at an all-time high, and I imagine my blood pressure was 230/200. I thought we were not going to make it that morning.

Sure enough the spanish profanity and yelling began. But the weird thing was that it happened to be directed more toward my sister than me. Don’t get me wrong I got my fair share of insults, but it seemed I got it less that day. After the verbal beat-down and barely escaping the you-need-to-care moment we went upstairs to our room. We figured the less time we spend in front of our mom, the better our chances of escaping  La Chancla. Can you imagine a twenty-year old getting the La Chancla?

When we got upstairs my sister made an observation:

“Hey, how come she was yelling more at me?”

“Did you notice that too?”

“What was up with that?”

“They usually expect that type of behavior from me. The disappointment. The let down. The stress of not making curfew. It’s not a surprise. It’s expected from me, but not from you. They’re very disappointed in you.”

Sometimes being Richie Cunningham is not a good thing.