(PNS reporting from EL MONTE) The pressure was too much for Marisol Cruz, a fourth grader at Fernando Valenzuela Elementary, who collapsed on the playground Friday afternoon.
Friends said Marisol was a total stressball since her mother told her to memorize all of her cousins’ names before her upcoming primera comunión fiesta.
“I have like 80 cousins!” the Penn Mar Avenue resident told PNS after she had calmed down and accepted a bag of Takis as an incentive to talk.
“It’s not my fault Mama and Papa have like 20 brothers and sisters each! I just can’t remember them all. Call me ‘Mari’ by the way.”
Mari listed the names:
There’s Beto, Gustavo, Juan, Big Juan, Jesus who is different from Chuy, Jesusito (also different), Flaco, Flaquita, La Chata, Katrina, Selena, Alisa, Mary, Maria, Mari…no wait, that’s me….
Her true motivation for the primera comunión, she said, was the special party cake her mom ordered.
“Yeah, there’s gonna be this huge, three-layer pastel with fresas and crema inside and it’s gonna be all mine! I’m gonna put my whole face in that cake!” Mari looked off into the distance. “But first I have to learn the stupid names.”
She massaged her temples, leaving Takis dust on her tear-streaked face,
Amy Sue Meyers, Mari’s BFF and classmate, said Mari had been studying furiously for weeks, making flashcards of all her cousins’ names.
“It really sucks. I have two cousins and they live in Delaware or something? Their names are Tom and Tim. So I feel real sorry for Mari,OK? Hey, do you want to buy me some Takis?”
Mari’s mom, Guadalupe Cruz, defends herself.
“It’s not too much pressure to learn your own familia’s names! Mi Mari es muy smart and it will be easy for her to be nice and polite to all her primos.”
“Y si no, le voy a dar un chanclaso,” she added.
Mari’s dad Rafael Cruz had a different opinion.
“Mira!” he said. “I haven’t learned any new names in over ten years! There’s just too many! Every weekend, it’s like ‘Oh Tonio’s wife had twins, vamos a este bautismo, blah blah blah.’ I just call everyone ‘mijo’ and ‘mija’ and I make sure to eat plenty of cake. No big deal!”
Marisol is not giving up; she is making more flashcards. “I learned the preamble to the Constitution, you know. I can learn all those mocosos’ names but they better not have any of my cake,” she said.
Cousin Big Juan, a third grader, was confused.
“Who is Mari? Is she Tia Juanita’s girl with the big ears? There are too many primos!”
He began crying, so this reporter got him a bag of Takis, too.