Pride Month — Mistaken identity

With a few minutes to kill before my evening graduate class at Fresno State, I stopped by my girlfriend’s house on my way to school. She, a couple of girlfriends and our gay friend Stephen were enjoying coffee mugs full of iced Kalua when her across the street neighbors who made their living as gardeners pulled up in their pickup and trailer piled high with clippings, trimmings and debris.

As they normally did every afternoon after work, they put an ice chest full of tall Buds on the driveway next to the truck and started hammering them back. They noticed Stephen was gay, and the trouble began.

“Hey, maricon,” they yelled, trying to pick a fight with him. Rather than have a conflict with the neighbors, I convinced them all discretion truly was the better part of valor, and on my pertinacious recommendation they happily agreed and moved the party indoors.

The next afternoon my girlfriend and another friend of hers were again enjoying Kalua on her front porch. The gardeners arrived across the street and began their afternoon drinking ritual. A few minutes later, a young man stopped by with his 5-year-old daughter selling tickets for an elementary school fundraiser. The gardeners across the street mistook him for Stephen and started yelling maricon, maricon, again.

As she bought a ticket, my girlfriend told the man they were idiots and to just ignore them, but he finally took offense, turned around and yelled back across the street, “Who are you calling a faggot?”

One of the gardeners grabbed a short, three-pronged hoe from the tool rack on the side of the trailer and came rushing across the street at full speed, mayhem clearly his intent. As he ran across the street with the hoe held high over his head, my girlfriend told the man her door was open and to go inside. He tried, but he slipped and fell. The top part of his body made it inside the house, but his feet and half his legs remained out on the porch.

When the gardener arrived on the porch, he stabbed the man in the ankle with the three-pronged hoe. My girlfriend, never one to shy away from a fight, promptly wacked him in the temple with her favorite coffee mug, breaking it into pieces, nearly knocking him out.

“You hit me! You hit me!” the stunned and stumbling gardener complained as he wiped the sticky Kalua off his face with his sleeve. My girlfriend responded, holding the handle and the broken shard of her mug, “Try that again, and I’ll hit you again. Come on! I dare you!”

An ambulance took the man to the hospital where he had surgery to repair the damage, but unfortunately, his injury was permanent.

Since I was not a party to the event and couldn’t be called as a witness, I was able to attend the whole trial. The defendant tried to play the victim card. The defense version was my girlfriend and her friends across the street had been hurling racial slurs at them for days, and the assailant finally just snapped at all the verbal abuse. The defense said my girlfriend and her friends were yelling, “Dirty Mexicans” or “Greasy Mexicans” at them.

The other woman told me she called the gardener a “stupid vato” after he stabbed the man.

The jury didn’t buy it. He went to jail for a few months, and my girlfriend moved in with me because she feared the gardeners would retaliate against her.

After the trial, I never saw the injured man or his attacker again.