Alfonso was born in Cuba, came to the States when he was 10, as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift. His father was one of Castro’s political prisoners who benefitted from Castro attempting to slip “undesirables” in with legitimate émigrés. Alfonso said his father refused our government subsidies and, with no prospect for work in Florida, moved to California where he worked three jobs and in five years saved enough to buy his first house.
Alfonso just bought his own first house in San Francisco where the prices are sky high. He can afford it, though, because his father inspired him to get a good education and he found a high paying job in the computer industry.
Alfonso has no accent, but he didn’t speak English when he arrived. He picked it up quick.
“Yah, the other kids used to call me a wetback, but after a while it didn’t mean anything,” Alfonso told me after he signed up and we were waiting to play. He sipped his rum and diet Coke and added, “Because, you see, I realized I was smarter than them, so it didn’t matter what they called me.”
Chun Kit is from Hong Kong and has a strong accent. He does not believe he has any trace of an accent at all. Because no American can pronounce his name properly, Chun Kit called himself Tom for years. More recently, following the trend of using initials, he began signing up as CK. He can be seen between games at a back table with his laptop listing items in his warehouse for sale on Ebay.
One day I missed a shot the onlookers thought was difficult, but it almost went in. I said, “Horse shoes and hand grenades.”
C K said, “Horse shoe? Hand grenade?” He rarely uses an “s” on the end of a word. That is because, as he once explained, there is no equivalent method of pluralizing in Chinese. “You have ten car. Or five dog. None of this craziness ess.”