Parabola: Coming Clean (War on Error excerpt)

I was eating an empanada and waiting for my clothes to dry at a local laundromat not far from my apartment shortly after the owners of the nearby convenience store had chosen to temporarily shut it down when María, who had worked at the laundromat since I’d been there and with whom I’d developed a camaraderie, started talking about how happy she was that the two brothers who owned that convenience store had been forced to shut down. She told me that she should have known better than to have ever bought even a stick of gum from those disgusting Arabs. Then she told me that we were lucky that we had a glorious, civilized, Catholic culture that helped us stick together and succeed. I told her that I liked the brothers and that I used to watch soccer games in the back of the store with them because they had satellite. Then she asked me why the hell I did that given all they ever watched were all the Middle Eastern countries’ matches. I had told her twice before that I was Iranian, and it now became clear to me that she either had no idea where Iran was or that she wasn’t listening to me. “María,” I told her, with tears running down my face by that point, “Soy iraní. Soy casi árabe, y soy musulmana.” I threw the remainder of my empanada at her and I ran home, leaving my laundry to fend for itself.

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