August 12, 2005

Grumpy’s Gone — What Now For Me?

By Dopey

My boyfriend is 20 years old, soon to be 21. I’ve known him for more than five years. He is a Norteño, and his homies call him Grumps or Grumpy. He is in county jail right now waiting to do time in the pen.

He got the nickname Grumpy because he always looks mad, mad at the world like life ain’t fair, forever mugging. He is Mexican but he doesn’t know how to speak Spanish. He has light brown eyes, is short and chubby, and he always has a serious look on his face, hiding his smile.

The first time I met him was at the park. It was a beautiful day — the birds were singing, the flowers were blooming and the sun was on fire. When my homegirl introduced me to Grumpy I thought that I wouldn’t like him. He looked like he was a mean person, but I judged him wrong. As he started to talk to me, he was cool, kind of quiet, and it seemed as if he had a story to tell.

You could see in his eyes that he had a lot of frustrations inside of him, but at the same time he had a good sense of humor. I really liked that about him. He is the kind of person who would sit back and enjoy the ride.

Grumpy was mean to everyone else, but when it came to me he was a sweetheart, even before we started going out. That made me feel special. He always knew what to say and when to say it. He was always making me smile and laugh.

Another thing that attracted me to him were his eyes. He has the nicest eyes. They look sad even when he is happy.

The first time he went to jail, we had been going out for about a month. He was with his homies and they were on their way home, but before they made it to the car they ran into some rival gang members and started to fight. When the police got there, the other guys wanted to press charges because they got bottles smashed into their domes. So Grumpy and three of his friends went to jail. He did four months.

He called me from the station and he sounded sad but he wasn’t tripping. He told me not to trip either, so I didn’t.

Right now he is in jail again, on his way to San Quintin. He was sentenced to two years for violating his probation, but according to his lawyer he is only doing five to seven months. Most of his friends are in jail too. Some are in the pen and some are just in and out of jail. The ones that are free are doing the same old thing, drinking and smoking.

Grumpy is stressing real hard in there this time because he is worried about his mother being sad, and he is mad and sad about his younger brother, who passed away. He is also worried about me.

Grumpy knows I was mad that he’s back in jail and he thought that I was going to leave him. Sometimes I wonder if I should leave. Why should I stay?

He says it’s his last time going to jail and that he is going to change, but there is no guarantee. I can only go by what he says, and even then, I won’t know until time passes and he is doing something positive with his life.

I don’t want to leave him, but I can’t be with someone who isn’t going to be there for me. I don’t want a relationship with someone by mail or a phone call once a week. I want him to actually be there for me when I need him, not only when he needs me. That’s not fair.

While he is in jail I plan to take time for myself and spend more time with my family and friends. I’m working this summer and going to school, so that’s keeping me real busy. In the fall, I start my senior year of high school, so I have to stay focused on my work.

Hopefully by February or March, Grumpy will be out of jail and things will work out for us, but for now I’m focused on getting out of high school. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.

The writer, who chose the nickname Dopey to remain anonymous, is 17 and writes for YO! Youth Outlook (, a magazine by and about Bay Area youths.

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