Ross: YO Khaled, stop eating dem McDonalds in da car you stupid Palestinian. We gots to return this whip clean otherwise Da Bawse dont get his deposit back. You know LA Reid dont like us using da recording budget for rented whips. I promised him dis da last time.
XXLMag.com: “I Get Doe” is a really unique song with the guitar and piano. How did you come up with the idea to do a song like that?
Glasses Malone: I remember watching Dave Chappelle say it, you know, if you have a White person sing it, she can say whatever she want and it’s gon’ pop, so I’m trying to see if that’s true… [Also] I remember watching this newscaster talk about my struggles, my jail records and all kinds of stuff, and I think she forgot to mention one major thing, you know. Like, “Fuck is you talkin’ bout, bitch, I get dough,” you know what I mean?
In a story about Chinese smuggling goofy shit across borders, an anecdote on how shitty Russia is:
“A guy has nothing to do in a village,” explained Oleg V. Lezin, the owner of a taxidermist shop in Blagoveschensk. “He takes a dog and tracks down a bear in the forest, kills it and chops off the paws. He can sell those paws for 1,500 rubles a kilogram. Then he comes into town and gets something to drink, and he’s all right until the next bear.” Those 1,500 rubles would be worth about $50.
“I believe that however you feel on whatever issue, we should always be able to sit down at a table together and have a few drinks—or a lot of drinks—and share a meal together. If the level of discourse has moved beyond our ability to do that, then everybody loses.”—
“That defines what’s so good about pop music,” Fennessey tells me. “It can be a lonesome experience with headphones, but it’s also going to concerts, and driving in a car with friends, and an exchanged look when you both hear a song. People still want to go to parties and dance to a record together. It’s elemental, and Luke’s tapped into that.”
Thanks to his creative directorship at Jil Sander, Raf Simons has become the foremost authority on minimalism, while in a parallel world further from the mainstream, his own futurist label enjoys a fashion-cult following. The minimalist side will take the spotlight at Pitti Uomo this summer in Florence, where the designer is showing the fall collection for Jil Sander.
“The Jil Sander world has always been very controlled, and I’m interested in freeing the brand,” Simons says. “People said, ‘Jil Sander? In Florence?’ That’s exactly why it interests me.”
He’s already revitalized the brand with creative yet appropriate variations on the legacy he inherited, garnering strong reviews and the corporate confidence to extend Jil Sander into new categories and roll out stores.
When Simons arrived in 2005—upon the second retirement of founder Jil Sander from the brand, and in the midst of upheaval under Prada’s ownership—he found a company mired in a 1995 mind-set, but the staff proved thoroughly adaptable. “A lot of people there worked with Jil, and I learn from them every day,” Simons says of his initial plunge into the Jil Sander culture. “At the same time, I felt immediately its limitations and the limited process of thinking that went on before me. It’s OK to have a specific way of doing things, but fashion is not art. You have a responsibility to ask clients what they want, and ask what fashion is today.
“I think it was Jil who did not allow it,” Simons adds. “Everyone had to overcome this. [Fashion in] the 20th century became something else. Once you are responsible for feeding so many mouths, you’d better make sure you listen and concentrate on where fashion is moving to.”
But while Simons relishes bending rules, he is steadfast about one: He will not sit for a portrait, despite the media interest surrounding Pitti. Two extant portraits, both of them years old, are proffered with apologies. Simons isn’t being icy. On the contrary, he loves conversation. He simply loathes being in front of a camera, and if that limits his media opportunities or forces others to live with a hazy mental picture of him, so be it. Besides, when people talk about Simons, mostly they talk about his infl uence.
And that defies easy definition. One approach would be to map the latest runway trends directly to the collections where he introduced them before everyone else. In 2010 alone, we’ve seen boomlets of oversize backpacks, brothel creepers, sleeveless blazers and contrasting sleeves, all of which were cornerstones of his 2008 and 2009 collections. Some would even argue that his skinny suits in the mid-Nineties paved the way for Hedi Slimane’s at Dior Homme, which led to the persistence of slimmer tailoring today. Yet Simons’ greatest contribution to fashion may not be a specific silhouette, accessory or style. It is his will to reinvent.
Simons’ drive to improve upon his surroundings doesn’t seem to stem from displeasure or a critical view. He simply thrives upon the work, having found the work that suits him best.
The designer was born in 1968 in Neerpelt, a Belgian village without a movie theater, record store or gallery. His parents, a career soldier and a house cleaner, sent him to a rigorous Catholic school that mostly shielded him from the arts. When Simons was 16, a Belgian curator placed the work of international artists inside homes in the city of Ghent, on the condition that residents allow the public inside to see them. That first meaningful exposure to the arts world was a revelation to Simons, whose school was pushing him into medicine or law (“my worst nightmare”). Then he came across an architecture book, a pivotal moment. He figured industrial design was the thing, moved to Genk for his degree, and designed furniture for a short period, but found it too isolating and without many prospects.
By that time, the Antwerp Six had stormed the fashion world.
“For sure it had a big impact for a small country,” Simons says. “We are most known for diamonds and chocolates. The success of these designers was a big thing in Belgium. It showed us possibilities.”
Antwerp’s fashion scene drew him in for good at age 25. He interned for Walter Van Beirendonck and found a mentor in the director of fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Linda Loppa, who had instructed the Antwerp Six years before. Simons launched a youth-oriented, street-inspired collection under his own name in 1995; started showing it in Paris two years later, and quickly caused a sensation.
That unusually skinny tailoring? He showed it not on agency models but on noodle-thin adolescents. It made a proclamation of youth—but not the overindulged, hyperstimulated youth lifestyle we see glamorized in American media, because that’s not how youth feels to a Catholic school boy in rural Belgium. Simons continuously channeled the true emotional vicissitudes of that age, the ideals and the conflicts. Sometimes it was aggressive, sometimes poetic. In addition to referencing youth subcultures such as Goths, surfers and punks, he sometimes borrowed codes from rebels and other marginal types—even jihadists months before 9/11.
Simons found the design process of fashion suited his collaborative nature, which he attributes to the loneliness he felt growing up as an only child. He became an animal lover as numerous pets filled the absence of siblings. As an adult, he constantly strives for a semblance of family cohesion among his friends and colleagues, he says.
“I’m a very communicative person in my work. I give a lot of freedom to the people I work with. I’m very much a talker,” he says. “This idea of doing it alone is much less attractive than giving it to people and enjoying it together. I never saw fashion as something you do alone. For me, that’s not even possible.”
Simons’ ambitious and slightly sadistic showmanship proved painfully effective. If you received an invitation, which was far from assured, you then had to deal with anxieties about remote locations, late hours, agitated crowds. The more inconvenient, the more intimidating the venue, the more people wanted in. Once inside, there would be a long wait, a glimpse of fashion’s future and finally a longing to see more.
Simons aligned his work with contemporary artists almost from the start, long before the fashion industry’s sizzling affair with that world during the last bull market. He incorporated sculptures and videos into his shows, and was an avid collector and curator on the side.
These merits and more moved Prada SpA to tap Simons for the house of Jil Sander five years ago, after the founder had fled not once but twice. Jil Sander had been a hallmark of the minimalist Nineties, known for uncompromising quality, intensive fabric research and quiet elegance. But it lost relevance in the years of dot-com excess, logomania and “It” bags.
With Simons installed, Prada sold Jil Sander in 2006 to London-based private equity firm Change Capital Partners for an estimated $146 million. Having returned the business to modest profitability, Change Capital in turn sold it to Tokyobased apparel giant Onward Holdings for $244.1 million in 2008. Simons is universally regarded as pivotal to the turnaround.
“I don’t think like I’m the boss. The people in my environment are all on the same level, whether the ceo or the cleaning lady. I talk to them in the same way, and I talk to all of them,” he says. “I answer my own phone.”
Despite the turbulence caused by three different owners in five years, the brand’s viability has mushroomed during Simons’ tenure. It has made strides into eyewear, fragrances, jeans, footwear, jewelry, innerwear and beachwear and a women’s diffusion line called Navy. Simons is not directly involved in Navy, but chief executive officer Alessandro Cremonesi expects it to boost Jil Sander’s turnover of 100 million euros, or about $134 million, by 30 percent in the first year.
Simons is the only men’s designer enjoying such acclaim at two houses simultaneously. He travels weekly between Milan and Antwerp, where he lives alone in a midcentury modern house, and where the design team for Raf Simons is based.
The signature line and the diffusion, Raf by Raf Simons, belong to Milan-based Futurenet via a joint venture agreement with Japan’s Mitsui Group. Production is centralized in Italy. The partners operate two freestanding Raf Simons stores, in Tokyo and Osaka. They aim to add two, in Hong Kong and Beijing, by 2011, and eventually one in New York.
While Simons has obviously impacted Jil Sander, Jil Sander has also affected Raf Simons, sharpening his focus on quality and top-tier fabrics. And Simons has learned to think more commercially without dulling the avant-garde aspect.
“Now I can think, Hmm, that’s something people might understand, and think about doing it in a more commercial way within the collection,” he says. “I know now about [working within] big structure and small structure. I don’t want to say one is better than the other. But I see that in a small structure, it’s difficult to bring out an idea and take the profit financially from it. A big house has so much more possibility to communicate the idea and educate buyers and all that.…I’ve learned to hold ideas back until I think it’s the right time and right structure to bring them out.”
In early 2009, Raf Simons staged a return to classical tailoring, a streak that continued for three seasons. The collections boasted plenty of novelties, as well, but the elegant suits initially delivered a shock to those expecting something more outré.
“People might have thought I rejected tailoring, but I never did. It’s how I started, and I have a constant attraction to going back to something, but still not looking at things in a traditional way,” he says. “A man in a decent suit is fantastic. It makes sense. I see the beauty of it. I see the power of it. I just keep on thinking that I can also show the other possibilities. I don’t want to seem that I’m only interested in breaking men of their restrictions. That’s not an issue, because I don’t see a classical approach as a restriction.” Mindful that his collection started with youthful tailoring, he wants to continue addressing the men who grew up with the 15-year-old label.
Since learning to work with such an established brand as Jil Sander, he has entered Raf Simons into collaborations with Fred Perry, Eastpak and Dr. Martens. Futurenet opened 400 Fred Perry by Raf Simons accounts in 2008.
Another change? Despite holding firm on his resistance to portraiture, Simons has actually grown more comfortable with the more public role he’s had to play since arriving at Jil Sander. “I used to not come out after the show, but now I understand better that it’s nice to do, and it’s also nice for the people who work with me to receive attention,” he says, alluding to his practice of bringing assistants out with him. “I’ve always been shy, all my life. But I also feel pride in my work.”
Some designers pay lip service to modernity while doling out retro-futuristic spaceman clichés. Simons, on the other hand, is truly forward thinking and thought provoking about new ways of relating to the body and addressing realities of life. He never serves up fashion as fantasy or self-aggrandizement. The clothes don’t have to convey power or wealth or importance. They incite desire through sheer novelty and distinction.
“The future, for me, is romantic,” he says. “I don’t understand people who say the past is romantic. Romantic, for me, is something you don’t know yet, something you can dream about, something unknown and mystical. That I find fascinating.”
1- Russia and Germany are working towards forming an alternative to the dollar as medium for exchange between their two economies. Most likely this will have some weighting of commodities in it. Natural Gas would be an obvious choice, since Russia exports to western Europe through the region.
2- China is decoupling, their buying power will soar
3- One thing the West still has more of than BRICS is gold. As a percentage of GDP and reserve holdings the U.S. Germany, France and England dwarf the BRICS.
4- throughout history, powerful people do what they have to preserve their incumbent status.
If it were me, and I wanted to stay in economic power, I’d buy all the Gold I could and then devalue the cash I used to buy it. Then I’d create a new currency backed by Gold. If I were stressing about budget deficits and weak partners in the ECB and I had a decent Gold hoard to begin with, I’d be thinking about that.
If I were all ready long gold and knew there was pent up demand out there coming from the BRIC countries and I had the ability to print money to buy more gold forcing the other buyers to pay up I might consider doing that.. Just saying….
In honor of the first Drake-induced riot I’ve been a part of! David Cho, internets celeb and publisher of The Awl, wrote a good report of yesterday’s events down in the Financial District featuring the most accurate description I’ve read yet:
"It was like those times when a kid runs through a group of pigeons and they all fly away in a big mob, running into each other, making this big mass of feathers, only instead of pigeons it was kids wearing fitted New Era hats and Air Jordans."
1) Don’t get a life. Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, has probably figured this out for himself judging by the universal hostility to his comment that “I’d like my life back”. When you are responsible for the firm that has caused America’s worst environmental disaster, your life is no longer your own, and wishing it were otherwise will only further antagonise the public. So what if the comment was an attempt to empathise with others whose lives have been disrupted by the oil spill; when you are the most hated man in America, no one wants your empathy.
2) Don’t joke. Here’s some advice Goldman Sachs could give you, but probably wouldn’t. When Lloyd Blankein, the investment bank’s chief executive, said he was “doing God’s work”, it was said tongue-in-cheek, not, as it would have been easy to conclude from the press reports, as a serious theological observation. In a crisis, chances are that CEO humour will get lost on the way to the front page.
3) Fly commercial; better still, walk…no, crawl. When the bosses of the small carmakers formerly known as the Big Three went to Congress to ask for taxpayer dollars to bail out their failing firms, they each flew in their private corporate jets, thereby confirming the public’s worst suspicions about their incompetence and lack of comprehension of the austerity being suffered by their customers. In a similar spirit, when Mr Hayward goes to testify before Congress on June 17th he should ideally arrive on foot—or failing that, in an energy-efficient Prius rather than a gas-guzzling SUV.
4) Don’t make big profits—or if you do, give them away rather than pay large bonuses to yourself and your staff. It was the profits that Goldman Sachs announced in early 2009, and the huge bonuses it paid out, that helped earn the investment bank the nickname “vampire squid” and made Mr Blankfein a hate figure. If only Goldman Sachs had made losses instead of profits, Mr Blankfein would have been pitied and then ignored, like Citigroup’s boss, Vikram Pandit. If Goldman had at least given away most of the profits, he might have been forgiven his joke. At the very least, he could have forsworn his bonus. If he had done so, he might have got lucky like Howard Schultz, the boss of Starbucks, who waived his bonus—only for his board to insist on paying him one anyway. But the bottom line, Mr Hayward: whatever else you do, resist the urge to quip “oil’s well that ends well.”
5) Become Warren Buffett. Only the Sage of Omaha could be cheered for calling derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction” despite issuing some of the most exotic derivatives ever created and then campaigning to exempt them from the new regulatory regime being introduced by Congress. Only Mr Buffett could get away with defending Moody’s against congressional accusations over the rating agencies’ complicity in the financial crisis, when he had been a big shareholder in Moody’s at the time, and retain his reputation as a straight-shooter. No doubt BP will have to change its name as part of its post-spill damage-limitation rebranding, but maybe Mr Hayward should change his name too.
6) Quit while you are ahead. We have no reason to think that Tesco will soon be plunged into a crisis, but if it is, the plaudits heaped on Terry Leahy, its chief executive, on June 8th, when he announced his impending retirement, will provide further evidence of the wisdom of getting out before disaster strikes. Imagine how much better Mr Blankfein’s public image would be if he had retired at the end of 2008. How Mr Hayward must wish that he had retired on March 17th, one month before the oil spill, rather than merely selling one-third of his BP shares—worth around $1.2m then, but about half as much now.
7) Pray that a worse disaster strikes someone else. “Every day, Lloyd Blankfein must get down on his knees and thank God for the BP oil spill,” says one noted PR expert privately. (Maybe the spill is proof that Mr Blankfein is doing God’s work after all, then?) Being America’s most-hated boss seems to be a temporary position, the crown passing to a new troubled head each time a fresh disaster strikes. As Fake Lucas Van Praag tweeted the other day, “Even though Goldman maybe had non-consensual relations with the economy, it’s not as bad as despoiling an entire coastline, right?” If it suddenly turns out that iPads are rotting their users’ brains, we will know whose prayers have been answered.
Brown men, heavy in muscles, whistled. They did not necessarily hiss in approval. They flattered the fat ones with thick wrists, the ones who looked like adolescent boys, and older women with saggy purses dangling at their hips, not just las buenas with breasts that poured out of their tight shirts like warm bath water.
They whistled at all of them. They were bored.
The men moved under the oppressive sun for hours. Little ants chanting mamacita and other more creative phrases drenched in fake lust. Some women learned to ignore them, to not look up at the building’s skeleton, to let the men’s words float into the traffic without meaning.
Some of the men longed for the curves of a woman and how she would feel under their calloused hands, rough and dry and parched from the weight of construction. So satisfying after dust and brick and hot copper. If one could reach for una buena, he would lie on a soft stomach, his ear pressed against a faint trail of gold hair above an empty womb. She would be a pillow on dirt next to a stale birote and a bottle of flat coca cola.
Alone, each of these men is an albañil, dragging himself across the floor of the working class pyramid.
An albañil expires, when old and cracked in warmth, when he can no longer build. If lucky, his many children take care of him and then his grandchildren run around the cool tile of his home on Sunday. If not, he’ll rot. Rot away on cement, his hands, like a plastic bowl stretched out in need. “Que Dios te Bendiga" he would say when coins fell. "God bless you", spoken in thirst, in hunger, in heat.
But for now, together, they were albañiles. An intimidating crowd that whistled and yelled so loud a woman cowered, keeping her eyes on the pavement. And her boyfriend infuriated, yelled up at the sky where they sat, “Chinga tu madre, ” “Cabrones, get your own girl.”
Get your own.
And together the albañiles smirked and wondered, how?De aquí arriba? Up here sitting in an unfinished window? Up here where I haven’t finished your stairs, where I haven’t painted your walls? You’ve got it easy, on the ground, where hips and thighs shake beside you. You’ve got it real easy.
* * *
Diego stands under the heavy sun. The sweat on the back of his neck drips down to soak a white sleeveless shirt. His small backpack is light, no longer bearing the lunch his mother made him. Food is his only possession, and it disappears.
He waits for a bus, next to a young man with jeans too tight and a bright yellow shirt that clings desperately to his chest and stomach.
Diego hates how this looks.
The bus ride is one he does not look forward to. He dislikes getting pressed against damp bodies and sticky purses. He finds the rattling under his legs irritating, like drills on concrete. Diego could take a seat, but he never does. Seats are for women. Seats are for the guy in the yellow shirt.
Diego stands with his muscled arms stretched out on the metal bars in front of him, which are moist from other’s sweat. They have also had a long day. Nurses in off-white uniforms, old from helping, whisper next to him. Everyone tries hard to be quiet on buses. They are a respectful audience to the grumbling motors.
Diego comes home to his mother’s kisses.
Ay hijo, you smell bad.
In the shower, the water that runs off his body turns into a different color. It becomes black, orange, brown. If he slit a vein, his blood would be all these colors. He is like a building, his bones are tall metal poles, his heart a concrete valve and his pulse is a steady hammer.
* * *
Guadalajara has been populated with condominiums. Diego has worked on a few of the new ones; all of them have names that allude to grandeur. Puerta de Plata, the silver door, Valle Real, the royal valley, Puerta de Hierro, the iron door, Royal Country… But nothing in them feels especially grandiose; the houses mimic each other, like uniformed children forced into line.
Inside these closed neighborhoods, clean-cut lawns, pools and playgrounds offer a tranquil atmosphere. The places are child friendly and pet friendly, but only for certain types of children and certain types of pets. The metal gates keep out the real world, a shield to gold bullets that bounce back and hit the ground with a clinging sound, rolling back to Diego’s feet.
* * *
When Sofia walks into her home, she hears the sounds of their construction.
The men have been there for a month although they assured her father the work would be done in two weeks. The room being constructed is for hosting parties. A special place in their house for a bar and a pool table might please the middle aged men and women who sit at endless dinners. But Sofia knows that her parents’ friends will eventually grow bored of this new room too.
To Sofia, the albañiles' presence is unpleasant. She feels their eyes upon her lean figure when she passes them to go into the kitchen. She puts on a bra every time she comes down from her room or wraps herself in a sweatshirt even though the summer heat burns.
How long does it take to make a stupid room?
She zips her sweater and then prepares herself a sandwich she plans to eat upstairs. Her feet hit the marble stairs like the clanging of their work.
If lucky, girls like Sofia will leave Guadalajara’s condominiums. They will travel and see what streets look like up close outside the haze of polarized windows. They will stop washing their jeans after every use and forget to paint their nails. They will ignore perfume and experience sweat. They will make friends with girls who have never gotten laser hair removal and with boys who do not pay for all of their girlfriend’s dinners and movie theater tickets.
If not, they might rot at dinner parties, bathed in perfume, next to a husband with a tired smile that he wears in public. Every year they will put on more makeup and dye their hair more often. They will sit in a house they do not clean, making up activities to fill up their time because they have got it real easy. Too easy.
* * *
Albañiles climb into the back of the pick-up. The truck moans through traffic toward the nearest bus stop. They sit in silence, air hitting their face. When detached from bricks and from heights, the men are silent. On the way home they think of food, children, wives, beds, mothers, all categorized in a box of things people take for granted.
Their hands grasp the truck. Diego’s veins are blue ripples under his skin, exalted from the fear of falling. He’s driven to the nearest bus stop.
Sofia is isolated behind electric gates, security guards, and golf courses, where trees aren’t cut down because rich people like to feel green.
Los pajaros enjaulados en oro, Diego’s mom had called it.
* * *
Diego doesn’t like her legs. Her knees stick out like her collarbone and elbows. To him, all her bones are chicken bones, licked clean.
She reminds him of his younger sister. A girl with no hips and small breasts. Diego’s sister disappoints his mother who chants at the table, come. When she walks, his mother sighs and shakes her head, “You look like a skeleton mija, no tienes de donde agarrar."
Sofia’s face is like the ones found on billboards in the nice parts of the city. Those güeraswith blue eyes and pinched noses, cheekbones too high and oval faces.
Sofi, her mother calls her de cariño.
"Sofi" looks like a stray kitten, green eyes wide, scared of the world, scared of albañiles, scared of Diego, cowered in bad posture. Her head always down looking at marble floors and twiggy arms always draped in large sweaters.
Diego stares at her when she passes by. He almost finds it comical how she is all hunched over, making her look twice her age, when she probably is seventeen like him. He does not find her pretty; he does not want to run his hands up her thighs. He finds her sad. Every part of her. From her chipping French nail polish, to her blonde hair that falls down in straight lines.
* * *
Sofia takes her clothes off in front of the mirror. Her room is silent except for the sound of her sweater’s zipper running down her abdomen, and then the soft sound of material falling onto the floor.
Her veins give the surface of her skin a haze of pale blue. She feels transparent. Underneath there is nothing except blue strings, long grey cables leading nowhere. She thinks of the men downstairs, of the sweat dripping down their faces and how she cannot remember the last time her body glowed with sweat.
She thinks of the boy with the sharp face and how the angles of his jaw glisten in the sun. He is the only albañil who is still a boy, probably as old as she is, as her boyfriend, as her friends who call each other “ñil" as an insult.
But she does not think of him as an insult. She would like to compare herself with him now. She would like to be brown and warm.
She stares at herself for a long time, until the silence ends with a knock on her door. She picks up her sweater and tries to put on. Lidia’s voice is muffled and distant behind the locked door.
“Oye, Sofi ya me voy,” she says, “See you tomorrow.”
Sofia lets the sweater drop again. “Yes, thank you Lidia.”
* * *
Lidia started working for the family when Sofia turned two. Back then, Lidia’s face was still a youthful round and she hadn’t had children of her own yet. Sofia, Sofi was hers in a way, a girl she placed in doll clothes, ruffled socks, and bows her mother bought from foreign lands. She followed her around as an instinct and wove her straight blonde hair into two braids.
She had swept the upstairs corridor outside Sofia’s room for seventeen years. Her movements always controlled and purposeful. The force on the broom’s wooden stick always escalating in intensity and ending with a sigh and her brown forearm brushing off the drops of sweat.
Lidia wears la patrona's old clothes sometimes. The tops reveal a stomach bulged in age and muscled arms obtained from work. For the last month, when Sofia watches her sweep, she is reminded of the men that invade her house, and how their muscles are also perfect. The boys at her high school go to the gym every day to create the same effect. They don't know work.
Lidia has turned herself into clockwork throughout the years. Now she does her work in a strict routine, when she once walked though the large home without much of a plan, expect to follow Sofia around. Before, Lidia made Sofi’s trail unnoticeable by picking up the porcelain dolls and mopping up apple juice.
But now she cleans the corridor outside Sofia’s bedroom everyday at four. Lidia sweeps the dusty path, in the same rhythm that the men and the boy drill holes into Sofia’s brain.
* * *
An albañil can turn into an oficial. If he has been there for two years, he probably will earn a little more than two thousand pesos a month. Less than most maids. A muchacha. She cooks and cleans. They like her better. They give her their used clothing and unwanted Christmas gifts.
If the family is rich enough, and their muchacha has not cradled children of her own and has eaten her meal after theirs everyday, she will stop working when her hands tremble and they will provide her with shelter. They will let her do the easy work and live in a small comfortable room next to the washer and dryer. They will let her stay there for as long as she wishes and hire a new muchacha because muchachas expire.
* * *
Lidia usually walks a kilometer everyday at six when she leaves Sofia’s home to get to the nearest bus stop. Sometimes she carries a large umbrella for the shade to protect herself from the blinding white rays reflecting off Guadalajara new skyscrapers.
But for the last month and a half she had gotten a ride to the bus stop. From the height of her bedroom Sofia watches her maid get into the back of a pick-up with the albañiles.
The boy stretches out his arm signaling for Lidia’s light bag. He puts it next to his own and then stretches out his arms once again for Lidia’s calloused hands. The muscles in Diego’s arms harden as he pulls her up with a single swift move. Lidia laughs and the rusty pick-up moans its way out of sight.
* * *
Lidia looked up from the pile of dust and dirt on the marble hallway and smiled at Sofia who sat at her desk. She smiled showing yellow teeth and piercing dimples like needles inserted into a cushion.
“Oye, Sofi ya me voy, ” she says as she leans the broom against the wall, “Can you let me out? I forgot my keys.”
Sofia put her pen down, and gets up from her chair slowly scanning the room for the brown, bulky sweater.
"You know Sofi, they aren’t that bad," Lidia says in her usual motherly tone, as if she always knew what this girl was thinking about.
"Who?" Sofia tries to look confused.
"The men downstairs."
Sofia nods feeling warmth take over her cheeks and then spread out over her whole body as if the sun had been poured into her blue veins.
Lidia smiles back as the broom rolls off the wall catching the afternoon sunlight and landing next her plastic sandals.
* * *
On the last day of construction, Diego looked at Sofi when he picked up his empty back-pack off the new floor. Her cat eyes trembled, darting away. Before he left, Diego had the urge to run back and tell her to wear fewer sweaters, to eat more, to stand up straight and to smile once in a while. She could be pretty that way.
And when Diego walked away, Sofia had wanted to thank him but not in the way one might thank a waiter, or a door man, not with the causal fake politeness. Really thank him, for working so hard. But she crossed her arms and bent her head down. A few blonde strands fell out of her messy bun.
Diego got into a car full of albañiles which drove him to the nearest bus stop. From there he got into a bus full of whisperers and the bus took him to his mother’s kiss and a cold shower.
For the last time, he saw the copper colored dust of Sofia’s home slide off his skin and swirl down the drain.
Sofia watched the albañiles drive off with Lidia who smiled and gave a short wave. She sat next to the boy who glowed in the late afternoon with a light back–pack between his legs and his arms resting on the side of the truck. His blue veins were ripples.
Sometimes he thought of Sofia. He would remember his time spent in the gated home and her tired muchacha that liked to talk about her on the way to the bus stop. She would always defend Sofia, saying her Sofi was really a nice girl, just too shy. When he saw the skinny rich girls step out of their nice cars he would take part of the loud whistling and fake appraisal.
At lunch breaks, Diego sits behind metal rods next to a birote and flat bottle of coca cola and he stares at grey cables that seem to lead nowhere because they stretch across the blue haze, infinitely.