Chapter Two: Here comes the monster
“The little big monster” was how uncle Gary had baptized Tobias, maybe because the little kid insisted obstinately in calling him “uncle gay” because his little ear, used to the sound of Spanish, was unable to recognize the English “r” and omitted it in his pronunciation of the English name. It must be admitted that most of his newly acquired Argentinean friends mistreated this name, which they pronounced with the typical Spanish rolling “r”. But in the little big monster’s household, Gary’s name was kept free from abuse due to the effort everyone in there had made to learn its correct pronunciation; everyone but the little big monster, of course, who wouldn’t deviate from his path of self-serving interaction with the world.
Tobias was the unexpected gift to the happy couple, but truth being told, in Argentinean society, unexpected gifts are more valuable than expected ones because of the surprise factor, which is always welcomed. Teodora had momentarily dropped her studies to be able to consecrate all her time to the miracle of life, while Ernesto had taken an office job at the municipality and started exerting his profession as a lawyer’s assistant in the afternoons; something which was far from his dreams of opening his own law firm and being independent. But most of Argentinians are aware of life’s end and they don’t renege on it. They may study law to ascend in the social scale, or literature or art to cultivate themselves, but they know that when the time comes to pay their due tribute to life, they need to do it without exception. Thus happened to Ernesto and Teodora, who took to the task stoically, knowing deeply inside that, even though it just meant trouble, it was the only option they had to take part of life’s miracle.
Gary was one of Teodora’s younger brothers, who had been named after his grandfather, an English man that had fallen in love with Buenos Aires and decided to stay. Gary had already become Tobias’s favorite uncle. Maybe because he’d been the first one to give him a cold shower directly from the faucet of the bathroom, which was diametrically different from the baths her mother always gave him in washbasins filled with water previously warmed up in an electric heater. Tobias was only two years old when he felt the violent gush of cold water rushing from the top pf his head to the tips of his toes. It was an extreme experience, which made it hard to forget the person who had put him under the torrent of water that had made his body tremble and filled his hair with foam that had made his eyes ache. And as if Gary thought that wasn’t enough for him to be memorable in Tobia’s eyes, he drove him everywhere in the basket of his bike. Whenever he went on an errand or he needed to go and visit some girlfriend of his, he was sure to bring Tobias along with him, so the developing monster could learn about the world and its intricacies. And whenever he walked somewhere, he carried Tobias on his shoulders, sometimes barely ducking to prevent a tree branch from knocking the prototype of a dictator off him. Tobias was so taken by his uncle that he would sometimes cry for ours because his “uncle Gay” wasn’t there to give him a shower or take it to see Gabi, Marina or whoever was the girlfriend of the moment, who never failed to pamper him with chocolate milk or cookies.
And whenever his favorite uncle wasn’t around, Tobi could also count on being spoiled by his grandmother, who sometimes came to visit her second grandchild, but her first grandson, and therefore her favorite one. She would walk around the block for almost an hour with the little fiend in her arms, singing him lullabies until he finally got asleep and gave a break to his poor parents. Thus the little monster never lacked the attention needed to become whimsical and prepotent, just as predicted by his uncle.