Sometimes its fun to pick up a copy of the local Podunkville town newspaper. Aside from the finding out what the mayor's wife ate for lunch on Tuesday and how the various high school sports teams fared over the week, you can see pictures of your friends and neighbors mowing their lawns, shopping, or attending the parade on Main Street. Some small town "heralds" also publish the recent crimes and traffic accidents, a guilty pleasure of many, especially if names and pictures are involved.
One of my favorite stories of my mother's while growing up was of a time when she and her sister, my aunt, had to go pick up a book from a friends house. On the way home they decided to cruise slowly by the house of a cute guy, you know, just to see if he was home. Even at that slow stalking pace they were inevitably moving at, my aunt managed to crash my grandfathers car into one parked on the side of the road. If it was mortifying to find their car crashed directly in front of the high school stud's house, it was another to get their names in the paper for it!
That is what I associate with when I see common people attending regular functions appearing in the newspaper. Coming from a larger city, one with dualing publications - one from Minneapolis, one from St. Paul - it better be a pretty big deal to get your face in the paper. If I were to see friends of mine staring out at me from the "Local" section for attending a birthday party or grand opening of another Target store, I would think, "must have been a very slow news day!"
This is not the case here in Cali. Every Friday the city's newspaper, El Pais, publishes a pullout section called "Gente" (People). In it, you can see photographs from various anniversary parties, weddings, business openings, and, most commonly, fifteenth birthday parties (quinceaneras). My students have appeared many times and I often can't help but feel like I've spotted a celebrity when I flip the page and see Maria Camila in an evening gown or Juan Diego looking dapper in a suit. I find this surprising still, after two years, from a city with over 2 million people.
Recently, however, I have been inducted into the "Gente" club. Not the real "Gente" but the minimalized page that appears occasionally in the regular non-Friday editions. This time it was for the recent Honor Society induction ceremony that happened at school. I serve as one of the sponsors for the Jr Honor Society and was, therefore, present for my 9th graders.
The picture shows me standing with, from left to right, my co-Jr. Honor Society sponsor, the Honor Society sponsor (and fellow colleague in the science department), and our school's director.
I waiting to get recognized on the street. Any day now...