Multicultural Nonfiction Finalist, National Indie Excellence Award
Audiobook Sample (full audiobook coming soon)
If my mother’s memoir inspires you to open a contraband business, I wish you a low-bribe, tax-free, un-incarcerated future.
As told to "The Daughter," Dr. Linda Sonna, 2016, Age 65
Certificate of Authenticity
"Sometimes a little inaccuracy saves a ton of explanation.” –H. H. Munro
All situations, events, and characters in this book are real. No names have been changed to protect the guilty, except for the names of the government officials, which I don’t recall. Maridél, the Student from Hell, is a compilation of my more devilish pupils.
OK, so maybe I didn’t actually wear a red flamenco outfit on my first day in Mexico. But my American mini-skirt drew as much outrage from the women and acclaim from the men as if I had tap danced through town, offering free peeks at my castanets.
Also, my daughter blew up the bathroom and accomplished the other plumbing disasters during visits to Mexico, not me. Linda also had the run-ins with the busload of Mexican males, Fernando the Fearful, and the nurses at the hospital. She toned down some of my more outrageous antics during my departure from Illinois. The truth, Linda insisted, was too strange for a non-fiction book.
Finally, after getting caught smuggling a water heater into Mexico, I did not haul any more large appliances across the border. I stuck to smaller-sized, less conspicuous contraband.
I swear upon my blushing face, the rest is true.
Lois Sonna Mark (AKA Lois Sonna, Batman, María Luisa González, Lois Mark)
"The Contraband Mom"
Lois Sonna Mark, 1971, age 40
From Chapter 4: Exploring Neverland
Saltillo turned out to be a spruced up, toned down, squeaky-clean version of Nuevo Laredo, as if the city fathers had plied the border town with tranquilizers, given it a face lift, and transported it south. Saltillo bustled without as much hustle as its northern neighbor. The street vendors waited for business instead of ambushing it.
Or so it was until I ambled across the central plaza and a tall, unkempt, very brawny man suddenly planted himself in front of me. He carried a beat-up, breadbasket-sized metal box from which two frayed chords dangled.
He raised his index finger. “Un peso,” he began.
I didn’t understand the rest, but I didn’t care to donate if he was begging or pay the eight-cent U.S. equivalent for whatever he was selling. “No, gracias,” I replied.
But the persistent vendor or beggar didn’t budge. I stepped to the side and tried to walk around him, but he moved at the same time. We spent an awkward moment two-stepping before I extracted a coin from my purse, handed it to him, and tried to walk on.
The man pocketed the peso but instead of stepping aside, he thrust a wire into each of my hands and patted them to let me know I was to hold on. Then he pressed the red button on his metal box.
I felt a sudden hair-curling, spine-jangling wallop of a jolt, heard my strangled roar as if from far away, and willed my spasming hands to drop the wires. When I was finally able to let go, I glared at the horrible man who had tried to electrocute me in the middle of town in broad daylight.
His smile dissolved, and he hastened to mime an explanation. He pointed at the box, pulled up his shirtsleeves, and flexed his hefty biceps. Next he rippled his meaty triceps while pointing to the box and smiling.
Then he pinched the drooping flesh on my upper arm and frowned.
Apparently he had zapped his way to a better physique and had intended to tighten my flab. Finally, he pulled at his crotch and nodded enthusiastically to indicate that even that muscle could be electrically toned.
I nodded curtly and walked on, but my heart was singing. If someone could make a living by zapping, business opportunities in Mexico must be unlimited!
Suddenly anything seemed possible. The chains anchoring me to Lee felt a bit looser.
The women’s movement & the cultural revolution, immigrant adjustment & adaptation, immigrant parenting, identity development in 1st generation children of immigrants, minority group issues (racism, sexism, prejudice), values & attitudes in individualist vs. interdependent cultures, diverse customs & mores, time orientation (past/present/future), activity mode (being/becoming/doing), social relations (hierarchical/collateral/individual), relationship to nature (fate/destiny/genetics vs. personal mastery/self-efficacy), cultural evolution & expatriate re-integration, culture shock.