Recently, our Chihuahua, Periwinkle (PW), had an eye removed due to complications of Glaucoma. We were at the veterinarian office on Monday to get her stitches removed. There, I confronted the ghost of Xaviar Cugat.

Image of dog
Periwinkle had her eye removed.

We were there for our 4:15 PM appointment. and the lobby was full of people picking up pets and picking up prescriptions. There was an older couple there whose husband could generously be described as “crotchety.” When he saw me holding PW, he approached and asked,

“Do you know Xavier Cugat?”

Xavier Cugat?

Now, I freely accept my grey hair. Leading the Placer DCC over the past four years has contributed to my “grey mane.” But I feel I did a good job, and those greys were honestly earned. But, c’mon! Xavier Cugat? Seriously?!?! (Read more about the maestro)

Xavier Cugat and his tiny chihuahua, Pepito
Photo found on Twitter account @CHANNINGPOSTERS

The crotchety old man went on,

“He carried a teacup Chihuahua in his pocket.”

I told the man that I did not know Cugat, but that I knew of him. The old man grumbled something under his breath as he walked out the door with his cat-carrier.

Why me?

We have lived in our semi-rural area for over ten years. I know that the natives recognize that I’m Latino. But I’ve rarely had anyone make any overtly negative comments based on race or ethnicity. However, when I wear my Navy ball cap with a Surface Warfare Officer pin, or one of my various university t-shirts, I sense some occasional resentment. Most of the folks here are lower/middle/working class and most did not attend university. My feeling is that some don’t like seeing a Latino who may be more successful than they are.

This conversation bothered me. I was left wondering why he would ask me that. Was he asking because he could tell I was Latino? Or, was solely focused on my carrying PW in my arms? I was unsure if he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, if he was a fan of Xavier Cugat, or if he thinks that all Latinos know each other. But, I knew the question seemed odd.

It left me wondering, “Why me?”

Going Forward

I’ve been dealing with questions like his all of my life. Sometimes, they come out of left field. Sometimes, the person asking has a genuine curiosity about something regarding Latino culture. Sadly, sometimes they’re intended to provoke. I’m looking forward to a day when they come to an end.

Periwinkle is adjusting to having only one eye. Her field of vision has changed and she’s taken by surprise if I approach her from her blind side. But she still likes to fetch her ball.

I know what I need to do now. I need to toss the ball, no questions asked.