• Mariaelena Comaroto

1st of tha Month


I have received many questions about my use of double entendres. By simple definition a double entendre is a word or phrase open to two interpretations, one of which is usually risque or indecent. To anyone unfamiliar with them or me, you may think I try very hard to be difficult or clever. However, I’ve used double entendres my entire life. My father spoke with me using them, as he knew I loved the challenge of decoding language and meaning in everyday life.


It’s just who I am. And yes, I hear very clearly that people don’t like or appreciate it. That’s okay. You don’t have to like the way I use language or explain myself. In fact, if thinking for yourself and challenges are not something you enjoy, you will not appreciate me. I’m sure of that.


Moving forward then, all the way to the 1st of tha month, I share two of the most disparate experiences I have ever had as a tenant. The first came much earlier than I ever expected. I was just 18 years old and I found myself alone living in what was referred to then as the Inland Empire of Southern California. Another story altogether!


There is something to be said about youth. Resiliency, strength, energy, drive, determination, and for me especially, naivete. I didn’t have too much time to think about things as I was holding down three part-time jobs and going to community college full time. Despite three incomes, I barely had enough money to pay my rent each month. These facts led me to find housing based on affordability. And that is how I found myself living in La Puente with Mr. and Mrs. B.


I will forever be grateful and fond of this beautiful family and their neighbors for their generosity, hospitality and protection. They were refugees from Laos, and they had brought their young family to America some years before. Their children had all moved out of the house, from my memory, one in prison and two in graduate school. So they rented out rooms to help cover the cost of their own expenses. I could not have survived if they hadn’t opened their home that way.


In addition to the room I paid to use, I shared a bathroom with another tenant, and Mr. and Mrs. B let me use their garage to store every belonging I owned, including my childhood bedroom furniture, which I was shipped off with after High School. But what I found to be even better than all of that was that I began to be invited to dine with them. I was first invited to dinner one evening after I came home from a long day of school and work.


I thought I had died and went to heaven. Dinner was on the floor, with bare feet, sitting in a circle and using our hands to enjoy the most delicious flavors that I had ever tasted. Because language was a barrier I insisted that they teach me Lao, so that I could communicate better with them. I still remember some words and phrases. Even though this period of time marked an extremely difficult time for me, it was my experience that the people I met and how they treated me, made all the difference.




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