BIG FISH / by adriana monsalve

If you've ever seen the movie, BIG FISH, you remember William Bloom - -  A father who is larger than life with stories to big for any book to hold, with a son that wants to determine what parts of this story are fact or fiction.  If you haven't seen it, I recommend it, it's enchanting in the best ways and whimsical too.  

The story that follows is about my friend, Mando.  I was so captivated by his stories that I decided to do a short project.  Linko and I went to his house and recorded him as he told us stories for 2 days.  I had my sister, Jael, listen to the audio because I wanted her to write the piece to go along with the pictures.  What she had to say completely flipped the script...

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text by: Jael Amador

“When I was a kid, I didn’t get to play,” said Mando without the slightest hint of sadness or self-pity. Mando understood that in order to manage a household of 8 sons, his parents needed to be strict. So at the age of six, when most of his classmates were learning to tie their shoes, Mando was spending his days either working in the family plant nursery or selling watermelons on the side of the road. Today, he continues to wear his work ethic as a badge of honor, basking in his ability to withstand the midday Laredo sun as he tends to the impeccably manicured garden of the city’s most prestigious hotel.  

Mando’s own garden is less than a mile away and is significantly less organized than the hotel grounds. Yet, he takes great pride in showing off the home that he has lived in by himself since the age of 14. Mando’s mother tried everything, including police intervention, to convince the then middle schooler to move with the rest of the family to Illinois, where his father had secured a good paying job and a three story home big enough for the family of 10. But Mando refused and there was nothing anyone could do.

So he faced his new responsibilities as the man of the house with a fearlessness rarely found in 14 year olds. He supported himself on $90 a week that he made from working at a candle company. With his meager earnings, he kept a diet of eggs and potatoes. 

“And when I wanted to change it up, I had potatoes and eggs.” He said with a smile that indicated that this was his favorite joke. 

It is with that same smile that he tells of all of his adventures as an adolescent who thrived in the world all on his own. 

But somewhere in the middle of the stories, the questions begin to form: Would a mother really leave a middle schooler on his own? Who would hire a 14 year old? Why didn’t the police or schoolteachers intervene? How can a person say they’re brave, yet never go beyond the borders of their hometown?

And finally, what is it about Mando that causes everyone to ignore these obvious questions?

The answer comes as he pauses from his story, looks up into the sky and smiles. 
After all these years, Mando finally gets to play.

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Is it possible that I been hanging out with Laredo's Big Fish, and never once questioned the validity of anything ?  I'm supposed to be a journalist.  Facts should matter and be important.  But I swear everything he said was 100% truth.. 

So you decide, fact or fiction ? 
C. all of the above

Thank you to Jael for collaborating with me on this piece :) 
collab's are the best !
If you don't know, get to know, the homie, the bae, the singer, the songwriter, the author, the artist, the doctor, the kween: JAEL AMADOR ..wait, big fish?