Fantasy that her condition is temporary that she is a

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fantasy that her condition is temporary, that she is a Cinderella waiting for that fairy godmother or husband to endow her with their power—then she can bear the burden of her disadvantage. And as years go by, and the probability of her dream becoming true lessens, she can at least pass on the story to her daughter. Maybe that is why I get tearful at quinceahcras. I'm watching the next generation be tamed into a narrative my generation fought so hard to change. Why I feel like a snake in the garden, because here 1 sit in their living rooms or in their rented halls, eating their catered food, celebrating with la familia, and I am thinking, Why spend all this money enacting a fantasy that the hard numbers out there say is not going to come true? Quinceanera Expo At the Quinceanera Expo in the Airport Convention Center in San Antonio, little girls are walking around with tiaras in their hair, oohing and ahing at the fancy dresses, the pink balloons, the wedding-cake-size cakes, the last dolls encased in plastic, the
Selections from Once Upon a Quinceanera tion like a ails, pend g to girls esses, c, the fluffy pillows with straps for securing the heels in case the page trips as he bears them to the altar to be blessed by the priest. At a cordoned-off area at the rear of the hall, Victoria Acosta, a fourteen-year-old local pop sensation, is singing into a microphone as she dances and gestures with her free hand. "Crazy, crazy, crazy, I think the world's gone crazy!" Her next song, "Once Upon a Time," is dedicated to "all of you out there who have had your hearts broken." "All of you out there" is a semicircle of pudgy preteens sitting on the floor, mesmer- ized by the slender, glamorous Victoria with her long mascara'd lashes, her glittery eye shadow, her slinky black outfit and sparkly silver tie. "You bet I'm going to have a quince," she tells me during a break between songs, although 1 don't see why. She seems to have already made her passage into womanhood quite successfully. There isn't a male shopper in sight. In fact, the only men around are manning booths or working the floor: a couple of boy models, one in a white tuxedo with a pale pink vest, the other in a white suit with a yellow vest; a grown man in a military uniform, a popular escort outfit with some girls, he tells me; a dj in a cowboy hat who plays loud music while his sidekick, a skinny boy, hands out flyers; Seve, the clown (who come to think of it might be female under all that face paint and bulbous, attached nose); Dale of Awesome Ice Designs (for $350 you can have the "Fire & Ice Sculpture" with the quinceanera's picture embedded in a central medallion of ice); Ronny of VIP Chocolate Fountains, whose wife, Joanne, does most of the talking. (Did you know that you can run chili con queso through the fountains for a Mexican theme at your daughter's quinceanera? The young people still prefer chocolate, as you can imagine); and Tony Guerrero, the owner of Balloons Over San Antonio ("We Blow for u").

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