Julio Bodega

Julio asks me out every time I come alone to the BP where he works. Julio stands behind the counter—bling belt buckle, goatee, and gelled hair. Julio asks me out every chance he gets. He promises with a smile how he can show me a nice evening. He notices the differences in my mood and pays attention if my lunch hour or break has changed. Julio doesn’t know much more than my name, I speak Spanish, I teach in the Bronx, wear no makeup, and can be kind of mean. But Julio still asks me out every time I come alone.
We flirt with this idea that has nowhere to go beyond the walls of that gas station grocery. We flirt. Educada and gay me. Dating street y macho him. I welcome his attention.
I think maybe we can pretend. El Boricua papi y la Cubana más blanca que el pan. We’d look good together against the backdrop of the Boogie Down. I’d wear the bigger hoops, and he’d wear his diamond studs. I’d buy the tighter jeans, and he’d invest in the platinum, spinning buckle. It’ll be worth it when his Spanish begins to improve and my street cred grows exponentially, and we’ll both look better dancing.

Katrina Ruiz lives in New York City, is a VONA alumna and La SoPa NYC member. She is a proud Jewban from Miami and educator in El Barrio. She loves Cuban bread, dancing, her wife, family, and students—who are her inspiration and why she continually challenges, questions, and writes.