Personal Narrative

My Mom and the Monchichi

They're NOT DOLLS!Last December, my Cuban mother and I were talking on the phone while she shopped for Christmas presents. She said she had just walked by a Cabbage Patch Newborn, and almost gotten it for me.

“I’m not that into those anymore, mom.”

“Yeah, but you were! I had to fought tooth and nail for that thing when you were 9.” I remembered. Their heads smelled like baby powder.

As she walked out of the store, she asked me, “What’s happening tomorrow? People are sleeping out here!”

I told her I wasn’t sure, but it was probably video game related and added, “I bet you’re glad you never had to do stuff like that!”

She said “Well, I never had to sleep anywhere but I DID have to go to some crazy woman in an alley in East L.A. to get you that darn Super Mario Bros. 2 game.”

Raccoon Tail“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, she told me she only had two left, and I better hurry up.”

“Wow. Thanks mom! How on earth did you find her?” I imagined a dark shop selling mogwais and bootleg NES cartridges.

“I looked! That was before eBay and the internet, before your fingers could do the walking.”

“When your legs had to do the walking?”

“Yes, exactly.”

The next day while I was at my desk, she left me a voice mail in her thick accent announcing, “You know what else I went through hell to get you? That darm Monchichi!”

I called her back. “I don’t even remember HAVING a Monchichi.”

a slight resemblance“Yeah, you were like seven, and you had your Christmas list all ready. Then on December 15th I passed by it and–it still makes my stomach cramp up to this day–you had crossed out like FIVE items and put next to it, ‘Monchichi.’ And I didn’t know what was the Monchichi, so I had to ask you. And you said, ‘You dun’t KNOW?’ I said, no, I dun’t, what is it? And you said something about the song, and I made the mistake of asking you about the song, and you started singing the stupid song [mom sings] Happy Happy Monchichi, Monchichi. So I went to the Toys ‘R’ Us in Cerritos and asked them for it. They were out. Then I went to the Toys ‘R’ Us in Baldwin Park. And THEY were out. Then I went to some third one I-don’t-know-where and they were out, and I started to panic. One of the employees told me that the Monchichi was, I quote, “The hottest item of the season,” and that people had been waiting for three weeks or more to get one. THe worst part was that they had three but they were on hold. I looked at the calendar and realized there was no way.

So I came home and tried to talk you out of the Monchichi. But there was the added challenge that you still believed in Santa Claus. So I told you, ‘You know when Santa gets late requests that sometimes the elves don’t have enough time to make those toys,’ and I made up a whole bunch of bullshit so you wouldn’t want the Monchichi. But you turned around and said, ‘Santa doesn’t have to make it, it’s on TV! He can buy it at Toys ‘R’ Us.’ And right then I wanted to sue the people who had started advertising a toy on December 15th. But because you had been willing to sacrifice FIVE items from your list, I knew I couldn’t NOT get you that one thing that you really wanted.

Happy HappySo I went down to that Toys ‘R’ Us and waited, the one that had the three left on hold. If they weren’t picked up by twelve o’clock, they were up for grabs. So I waited there. For hours. And at ten seconds past twelve I walked up to the guy at the counter and told him, ‘It is now 12:00 and ten seconds, will you please give me my Monchichi.’ And I got it. I stole some other kid’s Monchichi, and I brought it home. And when you opened it up I was so disappointed! I mean, it was so small, and I din’t even know what it was!”

Here I interjected, “I think it was like half-monkey, half-human.”

“Yeah, something like that. And it didn’t drink, or burp, or talk, or anything! After all that!”

“I still don’t remember it.”

“Freakin’ Monchichi.”


It’s been more than 20 years now since my mom had to stand in line, creep down alleys, and out-and-out steal to give my child’s heart its every desire, but her enthusiasm for the holidays and gift-giving remains the same. It continues to be my favorite time of the year, as well. And although I don’t remember the Monchichi, I’ll always remember this conversation about it–simply talking and laughing with my mother and relating to her as a young woman, doing her best to be everything I needed. Thanks, mom.

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