Living in a Small Town by Jackie Villarreal Nájera

 In 1977 I was working at the Rural Health Center in King City, CA as a class director for home health aides.

 My schedule would start at 9 a.m.  The reason I mention this is because of the incidents that happened that year. 

I always took a shower before going to work, then I would put on my robe and go outside to pick up the newspaper. One day as I went outside, I got locked out of the house. I went next door and called my husband to come open the door. He was teaching school at the time.  He had to tell the principal my situation. He mentioned that I was naked. I had told him that I only had my robe on.

Small towns are strange. By the time I got to work, everyone already knew that I was locked outside naked. There was nobody in town that didn’t know.

“You were naked outside your apartment.” Was followed by chuckles.

“No, I had a robe on.”

 “You were naked” They insisted.

 My reputation spread quickly. I would go to a restaurant and people would laugh. “That girl was naked.” They would say. I whispered to my husband that I didn’t even know those people.

King City was really a friendly place. In most restaurants if something was not a menu, you could get it anyways.  Some people still laughed when they saw me. I’d always knew it was about my nakedness.               

“Anything for that crazy naked girl.” They teased even after six months had gone by.

Then there was an incident which put my husband Joseph in a bad light. We were going to work, and as habit I would lean on the door of our Scout truck. When he stopped the truck, he went to the passenger’s side to open my door. I must have been daydreaming because when he opened the door that time I fell out. I landed on my buttocks not really hurting myself. This happened on Broadway, the main street in Old King City.

The rumors started again.  My husband was abusing me. No matter what I said, everyone in town was very sympathetic. “Poor me they would say, her husband abuses her.” Sometimes they added, probably because she was naked that time.

Knowing everything about our lives in a small town was sometimes irritating. There are times when it turns out all right.

Every year we went to the county fair. One year I registered in a raffle with only my first name. Next day, I received a notice to come pick up my prize. I went to tell them it was mistake.

The county fair people said, “You’re Jackie, right?”

“Well, yes” I responded.

“Here is your prize”.

When I told Joseph that I won a prize. He was pleased. I explained that I had only put my first name and forgot to put my last name.

 He said “That’s strange”.

Then is when we realized we really did live in a small town.




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