Conversation with playwright Ricardo Bracho
I e-mailed my friend and fellow playwright Ricardo Bracho late one night asking him out to dinner so I could ask him questions on the nature of fatherhood and he responded with a chat request on facebook.
Below is an excerpt from that conversation:
FG: I’ve been asking all my girlfriends what it is is they got from their Fathers. Some said nothing at all…even if the fathers were present….they weren’t good role models. Others said some really good things, like integrity and confidence.
RB: When I lived in the Bay area, it was always surprising to me that most of my Central American friends didn’t grow up with their fathers but yet some lived in close proximity to them or passed them on the street and they greeted each other and it was like nothing.
FG: It doesn’t faze them.
RB: At all! So why do you think Aguas differs from this cultural phenomena?
FG: Because she read To Kill A Mockingbird and wants a father like Atticus Finch.
FG: She wants a father who is full of wisdom and will talk to her.
RB: Yes, but fathers don’t always do that.
FG: No but men offer a practical and emotionless look at the world…a more logical and pragmatic way of thinking.
RB: Yes, but Dads/Men can be emotional black holes or very seductive in their sometimey attention.
FG: Hmmm…I think i know what you mean….”Take advantage of me right now because I have to go provide for you,” kind of thing?
RB: Still…it is so weird how a man can live in a home, eat and sleep and watch TV there and have no real effect other than economically on the culture of the home
FG: Yes, exactly, and some are quite okay with that, until they get older and realize they have no connection with their adult children.
RB: I dont think they have the emotional equipment for connection hence the drink and other women or men or trannies
FG: (laughs out loud) Ah yes, the trannies.
RB: And in the case of latino immigrant men their daily labor is often so humiliating.
FG: It adds one more level to their need to be MEN.
RB: Getting dirty so that others can live clean, sparkly lives.
FG: And they become angry and resentful.
RB: Well they get broken and its not something they share with anyone.
FG: I see, not even other men?
RB: It’s why they cry and sing together on corners when drunk.
FG: Hahah…true because then they can blame it on the liquor and Vicente Fernandez
RB: Si eso! I also think Central American families are intensely matrifocal so alot of men who father stay their mother’s sons and dont feel the need to provide/be around as they think of their role as child more important
FG: I’d never thought of that
RB: In some ways it’s the son that is the patriarchal figure of the household. In Aguas case with no sons around, power plays are far more nuanced, complicated because no one has the social and domestic authority of a man.
FG: I have my work cut out for me.
RB: Oh no, it works out great, think of all the irritating mami’s boys you have met. I think for a lot of Latinas, Son=Sun, that which their world revolves around, which is why Mexican men in particular see their mothers as Holy.
FG: Sheesh…no wonder i like dating the white guys! Except they go to the extreme and forget to have emotions.
RB: Or their idea of emotions is like salt and pepper as spices bland and typical.
FG: Hmmm….you’re good. It’s true, no tienen sabor!
RB: But they can feel safer than brown men.
FG: Yes, there’s less pressure. I don’t want to be Holy! I just want to be a woman.
RB: And your own woman which Latino men don’t really get.
FG: Yes, even the Americanized ones retain this…why?
RB: They just dont understand why you’re primary focus wouldnt be caring for them.
FG: (Laughs out loud.)
RB: They also really can’t think of women as being complicated enough to be both Holy and puta. And so if a woman likes to fuck, for instance, she wouldn’t make a good wife.
FG: But i thought men want sex 24/7? Why wouldn’t they want someone who can fuck?
RB: They do, they just don’t want a puta raising their kids. That’s why Latino men can’t really do monogamy.
FG: How does that explain all the baby mommas? Why get a girl pregnant if that’s the puta that’s going to raise the kid?
RB: Because we don’t like birth control. Because you don’t really have to deal if you don’t stay together. Only some women go after child support or let you see the kid. And then the Latina side to it is…if a man moves on she and her children and family just hate him.
FG: Thus repeating the cycle of no fathers around
RB: But also remember people don’t gestate inside us, we have no trouble severing ties/cutting the cord as there was never an umbilical cord that ties us to the child.
FG: Yes, I was just telling someone that. My father held me only once after I was born. He had no connection to me after that after my mom moved me to Mexico.
RB: I always tell first time fathers to bathe with their kids when they are babies, we have to work at the connection
FG: Yes, that connection is essential when they are babies. How old was your son when you moved away?
RB: 8 years old.
FG: So you had time with him…you held him and changed diapers and stuff?
RB: Oh yeah. I am a very good father with babies.
FG: Me too…it’s when they start talking back to you that I get flustered.
RB: I don’t mind the talking back, as long as I get the last word.
FG: You always do, don’t you?
RB: I do. Where are you gonna present your play?
FG: We are trying to rent a space in east los…no on prop 8 had it’s headquarters there last year Ford and Cesar Chavez.
RB: I’d write Aguas a fantasy sequence with her father coming home from work.
FG: Will do. Goodnight.
RB: Night doll. Besos.