Christmas Memories: Cocquito and Friendship

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When I was 12 years old, due to financial reasons, I was placed into the public school system. It was a shock to my system and sensibilities and it was at the point, I began to hate going to school. I did not adjust well and that adjustment was not helped by being called Four-eyed Midget, The Snot, and Weirdo by my classmates. Many of them knew my family and knew I had been one of those too-good for their own good society snots. I became outcast and except for a couple of teachers and one of the lunch room ladies, without friends. I walked to school alone and walked home alone; groups of kids passed by me, sometimes knocking my books from my arms, knocking me down, and always calling me names. I’d arrive home and go to my room and alternate cry and rant.

One day, during recess, I had had enough. One of the bigger boys who was taunting me (I see London, I see France. I see Snotty’s underpants) just plucked my last nerve. I looked up at him and challenged him to a fight. He found this most amusing and pushed me down on the ground. I gathered my wits and then launched my small frame full into him, head butting him in his crotch. We both went down rolling, punching, gauging, me biting, scratching. A crowd had gathered cheering him on when he grabbed me and held me up from the ground. I was flailing and sometimes connecting with a good kick. Suddenly, it became silent. Thank God, I said to myself. It is a teacher. I will be expelled and never have to come to this hell hole again.

It was not a teacher. It was Billy Rodriguez. To the bully, this slender boy said, “Son of a whore, put the girl down.” I was thrown down and Billy began to circle the boy. Next thing I knew, the bully was flat with Billy on his chest pounding him. It was a good moment. From that moment, Billy became my protector and his younger sister Therese, my friend as well. Old Southern family meets blended Cuban-Puerto Rican family.

They did more than keep me from a serious beating that day.  Billy, standing between me and harm with all the arrogance, honor, and bravery of a true hidalgo, helped out others who were being bullied.  Billy and Therese also walked home with me that day to explain what had happened so I would not be punished and so my family would know of the bullying I had been subjected to for several months.  The next school year, I was placed back in my old school.  That did not keep us from continuing to be friends.  That afternoon, they walked home with me. I had friends! We talked, laughed and began a walk of friendship that lasted until Billy was killed by a drunken driver and Therese died of uterine cancer a few years ago.

Billy’s mother had fled Cuba bringing her two small sons to America. His father had been murdered in the bloodbath there. Therese was the daughter of a Puerto Rican widower. it was a happy marriage and a wonderful blending of cultures.

That first Christmas of our friendship, his mother came to call on my family. She brought a large pitcher of a holiday drink: Cocquito. She explained it to us; the ingredients, the tradition of serving it at Christmas, the warning that it was lethal and to be sipped and savored. When I make Ida Ortiz recipe for Cocquito, I honor the memory and lives of these precious people who rescued me and became part of my life.

We became three families blended by friendship, food, tradition, love, and honor.  Their pork roast and cocquito have become part of our family celebrations just as their memories have blended in with all the other memories.

I raise my glass of cocquito to the friends who became family and to their memories that bring me joy.  I raise my glass to all of you, friends who have become family.  Blessings to you all and may you always be blessed with friends who become family.

Cocquito
8 oz. half and half or whole milk
4 oz. cream or half and half
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 can cream of coconut
1 can coconut milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ ground nutmeg
4 – 8 oz.Puerto Rican white rum
Ground cinnamon – dusting

Directions
Place all ingredients in a blender and process for 3 minutes at high speed until frothy. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator and serve chilled, dusted with a little cinnamon. NOTE: Use a rubber spatula to get all the cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk from the cans. The egg yolks are optional. Some versions use the egg, some do not. It seems to vary from family to family.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. yeseventhistoowillpass
    Dec 23, 2014 @ 21:23:16

    What a great childhood story. I went to a private school of the rich. I was the only low income kid in a school with sons of congressmen and doctors. I was beat up quite often. Oh well.. Have a nice Christmas:)

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Dec 23, 2014 @ 21:26:01

      We were very blue, but had no “green”….but in private school, I was’t bullied. But the public school was hell. anytime kids are bullied, wherever they are, is bad. I’m just thankful I had Billy take up for me. You have a wonderful Christmas…blessings to you! and here’s to friends….

      Sent from Windows Mail

      Reply

  2. huntmode
    Dec 23, 2014 @ 22:29:13

    Reblogged this on Chasing Rabbit Holes and commented:
    This is a wonderful story of friendships formed in childhood and the sharing between families and cultures that happen on a daily basis here in the USA. For all the bad times, we have some very good times to be remembered as well. xxoo Huntie

    Reply

  3. seeker
    Dec 24, 2014 @ 00:05:20

    Great story! I’ll drink to that!

    Reply

  4. Sue Vincent
    Dec 24, 2014 @ 02:05:28

    Those were very special friends, Kanzen. xxx

    Reply

  5. Tina Blackledge
    Dec 24, 2014 @ 02:24:17

    Wow! This is a heartbreaking and heart warming memory! I love those accounts of bullies being taught a lesson and a hero emerge. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic story from your past. Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Dec 25, 2014 @ 20:04:37

      I hope this has been a special day for you. Thank you for your gift of comments through the year. I wish you blessings of joy, health, and love in the new year.

      Reply

  6. inavukic
    Dec 24, 2014 @ 06:46:16

    Merry Christmas! Have a beautiful New Year!

    Reply

  7. SirenaTales
    Dec 25, 2014 @ 19:33:48

    Kanzen, You have a gift. Thank you so much for sharing your storytelling with us. I love this story of redemption and heart–its poignancy brought tears to my eyes. I am grateful for your good wishes and wish you the same. Thank you for all of your artistry and friendship this past year. With love….

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Dec 25, 2014 @ 19:59:23

      Thank you. And thank you for all the sharing, the joy, the beauty. Such gifts are amazing to receive and make the season truly bright.

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO

      Reply

  8. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.
    Dec 26, 2014 @ 00:18:48

    Lethal, without a doubt. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  9. Ann Koplow
    Dec 27, 2014 @ 10:10:12

    Wonderful post. I’m so glad I read this today. Many thanks!

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Dec 27, 2014 @ 10:13:25

      I am so glad you enjoyed. It’s a rich drink w/o the alcohol but it does need some rum flavoring if you want to make non-alcoholic. Thank you. Have a happy new year!

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO

      Reply

  10. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Dec 30, 2014 @ 15:02:02

    It’s wonderful you had such a special friend looking out for you, Kansen. A wonderful tale of old that never leaves you. A toast to you, Billy’s family and to Billy. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Reply

  11. kanzensakura
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 09:23:16

    Yes. A few years ago killed by a drunken driver. Now I also have a cousin Billy, also one of the 11/16…aluve and well and new grandpa to the newest member of the 11/16 group – Jackson. Cuz’s dad, Bill was also one of the 11/16 group, deceased se eral years ago.

    Reply

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