“I Swear That’s Me!”
Busted by the Border Patrol on the way to Tijuana, 17 year old Steve Gonzales regrets having followed his friend’s bad advice. He must now face the wrath of his mother.
Steve Gonzales is a third generation plasterer living in Polson, MT working mostly in Missoula. He taught me how to sling a hawk & trowel. He is still struggling to avoid bad advice. Learn more about Steve and his plastering services at Gonzo Plaster.
This episode of Tell Us Something was recorded in front of a live audience on June 22nd, 2016, at The Wilma in Missoula, MT. 9 storytellers shared their story based on the theme “Bad Advice”.
Today’s podcast comes to us from Steve Gonzales and is titled “I Swear That’s Me!”. Thank you for listening.
Transcript : I Swear That’s Me!
I’m in the kitchen with my mom, she’s making tortillas, it’s after school, I’m a senior high school, and I’m trying to see if I can get permission to go to the high school football game. The go to the Chula Vista dance after. She wants to know who’s driving, who am I going with and what time coming back. So: Ed Bacon, he’s going Les Wanamaker, he’s driving. We’re going to get back at eleven.
My mom goes, “Well I like Les, he’s a nice guy.”
I go, “No, Mom, he’s a wimp and a spoiled brat and he never listens to nobody.”
So, she gives me permission. Later on, they show up. I’m going out to the front yard getting the car. It’s a two door. Ed opens passenger-side, I climb in the backseat. We’re all excited. We’re talking about how we’re gonna sneak down to TJ, which is Tijuana. We’re not really….
I hate to lie to my mom. But I wasn’t going to tell her that.
The thing is you could party in Tijuana if you were 18, but most of us were 17. So you need to either trunk it, get fake ID or use somebody’s draft card like your big brother’s. So, we had our stuff together. I had Dennis Graham’s temporary driver’s license. He just turned 18 and there was still time on it. Ed Bacon had his brothers draft card and Les said he had something. So, we’re cruising. It takes like 20 minutes to get to the border. We get there. I go, “Okay, so don’t forget, we gotta pull over where the upholstery shop is, leave our rig, leave our car, and it’s right there, we can see it, it’s safe, and we walk through separately, that way if anything happens youknow, we’re separate.”
So, Les goes, “No, I’m gonna drive. I’m not leaving my car there.”
I go, “Look, we’re gonna walk. It’s easier. We separate. We walk through. They don’t even care! Man, we could do it all day long.”
“No, I’m driving! I ain’t gonna leave my car there!”
“First of all, you need insurance! Do you have it? For your car? And what if you come back and you’re drunk? You gotta go through the Mexican guys, you gotta… US guys. We’re gonna get popped.”
“Bobby says he he does it all the time. It’s cool.”
“Bobby? Bobby don’t even got a car!”
He says, “Just act relaxed. Go through. It’s Friday, they’re waving the cars through.”
I go, “Man, I don’t know. I don’t know. Ed, let me out!”
“Don’t open the door, Ed!”
So it’s too late to do anything anyway because we’re getting closer. And they’re waving all the cars. It’s Friday. And then, we show up and he’s goin’ “Hey guys, what your purpose in Mexico?”
“Dance. Meet friends.”
“You don’t look 18 to me!”
“Oh, well, we’re 18.”
“Pass your ID.”
Pass my Dennis Graham’s temporary driver’s license. Ed passes is Tom Bacon draft card. And Les, and the guy looks at. Les opens up this piece of paper, and it’s like, he took the driver’s test, and they give you a paper, and you sign it and date it and then take it home and your parents or guardian sign and bring it back and get your temper. He thought that that was the one. He changed the month so he would be 18.
And the guy goes, “So what’s this?”
And he goes, “Well, that’s my,I took my test.”
“Well you didn’t date it.”
“Well, what? Uh uh,” you know.
“And you and you have to have a guardian or parent sign it. So this is actually just a piece of paper! And and you’re driving illegally! So what I need you guys to do is pull in the inspection area.
That piece of shit.
So we go over there. They ask escort me and Ed into the office. They make Les sit on the curb away from his car while they go through the whole thing: run the statewide to see if he stole it, check all the things. I’m watching everything that’s going on.
Border guy in the office goes, “Who’s Dennis Graham?”
Because they had kept our ID.
“Okay. So, when’s your birthday?”
I had memorized it. “February…whatever”
“Um, I need you to sign your signature right here, because I’m going to compare,”
I’m goin’, [mimicks signing name] “Dennis P. Graham.”
I just guessed.
He goes, “Well, what do you think?”
I go, “I dunno.”
“I tell you what, sign your name 10 times and see if you can sign it the same way,”
And I’m thinking, “I can’t even sign my real name ten times the same way! Sign Dennis Graham’s!”
So I’m doing that,. Ed’s over there. Looks like he’s gonna die. We can see all the commotion! Okay time goes on because we sat there and waited.
Anyway I’m speeding this up.
So next thing you know I see Les’ parents there. His mom’s all “[high pitched emotional cryaing sound]” All emotional. And she…hands and stuff. And I see Les and it looks like he’s crying. Border guys are there and they’re looking our direction. I;’m thinking, “Oh, we’re screwed!”
Ed’s still quiet. Border guy comes in and goes, “Okay I’m gonna tell you something. I’m gonna ask you one time. Is this your draft card? Because it’s a federal offense if you use somebody else’s draft card.
“No, it’s my brother’s”
They walk Ed out. Big commotion. They drive away.
My two friends get in the…his dad’s car. His dad’s this big giant ex-Marine with a crewcut. Plumber. He’s got arms like that. And he just stood there and listened to the whole thing.
I see him drive away. See the mom take the car.
There I am alone. Denying everything. Lying through my teeth. I’m Dennis P. Graham.
The border guy comes in, goes, “Well Steve you ready to tell us your real name?”
I died a thousand deaths! How embarrassing! Busted! Again? Caught! Again? My mom is gonna kill me. Oh! How embarrassing!
I give my parent’s phone number. They come. Take about 20, 25 minutes. It’s Friday night. It’s busy. Here’s mymom and dad.
Now, my mom is like, that big. She’s like a Mexican Indian Aztec blood kinda…. She loves her kids to this day. But she don’t take no shit! She’s walking in, holding this purse, it’s like a gym bag. Growing up it had every single thing in it. She had a flashlight and pens and napkins and toilet paper, and when we had my little brother it was the baby formula and the diapers. We go to the show there’s a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a box of raisins and the grapes and the penny candy! It weighed a ton. And she’s just beating the shit out of me.
“Mom! Mom! Mom!”
Just wailing on me!
And my dad, he’s like that, because he’s always guilty doing some shit…
“Oh goddammit! Don’t do that! I taught you better than that!”
“Mom! I know but stop!” you know?
And was over I was just like, “Goddam!” I was fucking throbbing!
The border guys are like, you know. They explain what…all the shit I did. I get in the backseat, gonna drive home. It’slike 20, 25 minutes. It seemed like two hours!
I’m just back to throbbing. I’m aching going, “God! I’m going to be on restriction forever now.”
And then my mom starts. “How could you do this to me? You embarrassed me. I was so ashamed! My son’s down at the border! You’re going to those whorehouseses! The prostitutes! With the disease!”
“Mom! I wasn’t…”
“And your brother’s in Vietnam, and he went to officer and cadet school and he’ll go to flight school and the security and you’re going to ruin it for him….”
And I’m going, “Mom! Mom! Sorry!” God, I’m dyin’ there.
Here’s my thoughts: busted again. I was pissed. Mama tried to raise me better. But her teachings I denied Leaves only me to blame, ‘cause Mama tried, Mama tried.