Sweat You Ass Off, Mi’jo

Joe came over today. He has a really bad cold – coughing like crazy – and his voice hoarse and scratchy. I think it’s at the verge of being a pneumonia, but he disagrees.

After being in the house for only 5 minutes, mom yells at Joe. “What are you doing out in the cold with that pneumonia? Oh my God! your voice is ready to go!!”

“It’s not a pneumonia! It’s only a cold. Don’t worry” Joe replies.

But he does not know my mom. She left the room and we went back to hanging out. We’re watching TV and just talking but we are having a good time hanging out with Joe.

I don’t know why all the neighbors don’t like Joe. He is a good guy with a bad reputation – no matter that it’s unearned. My dad does not like him, but my mom does. She says that she sees the kindness in his heart.

“Knock, Knock” my mother says as she opens the door of my room. “Take your shirt off!” She demands of Joe, in her broken English.

“What?” Joe replies with a puzzled look.

“Don’t even try to stop her Joe. When she has her mind set, nothing will stop her.” Danny tells Joe. “Just surrender, It’ll be easier!”
Menthol ChinoMY mom showed up with a container of ‘Mentol Chino‘ & a stack of newspapers. She rubs the mentol chino on his chest and on his back. She lays it on thick so that the newspaper will be able to stick to it.

The room has a strong Menthol smell and Joe is complaining of the smell and that the fumes are stinging his eyes.

“Dile que no joda!” My mom yells out.

“What did she say?” Joe asks.

“Stop complaining and let her continue…” Danny replies, leaving out the curse word.

Now my mother grabs the newspaper. She plasters it on his chest like if she was hanging wallpaper. She rubs it in – almost as if she was trying to rub the newsprint off onto his chest.

She continues with more of the same on his back.

“Now put your shit back on!” She instructs Joe.

Sure enough, Joe is now doing whatever my mother instructs.

She now leaves the room & Joe is just standing there like an overstuffed scarecrow. He has newspaper spilling out the neck & arms of the T-shirt.

Wool BlanketMy mother walks back in, this time with a thick wool blanket that we brought over from Ecuador. This blanket is made of Llama wool and is made by the local Indians. I have many memories of how it kept me warm during those cold winter nights in the Bronx. We used to have nights when the heat would not work & this blanket was the only thing that kept us from freezing our ass of. The whole family would sit under this blanket to stay warm & watch TV.

My mother wraps the blanket tightly around Joe. The only thing hanging out the side is his hands and off the top is his head. Joe is now stiff as a scarecrow.

“Now leave!” My mother instructs Joe! “Mi’jo, Go home & sleep wrapped in the blanket. Don’t take the blanket off no matter how hot you get.”

My mother treated Joe just like she would her sons. She was truly concerned for him. Joe does not question nor says anything but gives Danny a look, as if to ask “What should I do now!?”

My Brother replies “GO & sweat your ass off!

The next morning Joe returns the wool blanket & thanks my mother for taking care of him. He does not have a mother & mom has made him feel as if she was his mother.

“Thank you” is all he says – his voice no longer hoarse or broken. “I feel much better.”

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