This morning I went to check something in the mirror enough times that it is apparent I need to begin a group of MA. Think going through paltry pantry dinner options when the electricity goes off and coming up with – toast! Until the dawning in your brain makes you realize, ohh, riiight. Same thing. I kept rediscovering, “Oh, I can’t put mascara on because there’s no mirror,” and another version, “Oh, I can’t see if I rubbed my sunscreen in all the way”. The next examples are real indicators of my addiction; “Oh, I can’t check to see if I have my hair clip in just-so perfectly,” and “Oh, I can’t see if my ass still looks the same size as the last time I checked and I need to because I am on this frijoles diet.” Those last two examples are sad because I was in need of not one, but two mirrors. The entire mentality is sad because I am painfully aware in such a few short hours of how many things I neeeed, and looove, that are relatively meaningless. At 7:15 I am pondering if all my powers have been spent on frivolity or just the morning ones.
A good way to learn to tell 8 year old Mexican boys apart (and yes, they do all look alike – something like bear cubs in my opinion) is to grab three at a time, gather their names cómo te llamas?, spend a moment gazing intently at each, then close your ojos, take them by their shoulders and shuffle them around. When you open your eyes and name them you will get 1 of 3 correct. This is a pathetic score when two are called Jose 1 and Jose 2 (not kidding) and the third is Diego. But the game is a real crowd pleaser and on about round three that’s what I get – a crowd – because other boys sneak in while my eyes are closed!
Oh it’s hilarious all right. I start assigning random names of US presidents, Popes, movie stars and eventually the boys take pity and grab my hand to lead me to lunch. I like these boys in Andrew’s section. There are thirty-five of them ages 6-10 and they do not seem as tough as some other groups.
Children everywhere make a mess eating watermelon. It’s just a lot easier to take a bucket of water to the floor if it’s a ceramic tile floor of an old church. Andrew’s section are the kind of boys that will not go loco if something mischievous is started, so spitting watermelon seeds on the floor becomes the next hilarity. They are my kind of boys because they too, think this is hilarious. As is making seeds into faces on the stainless steel tables. Karen is kind of cranky so making a cranky seed-face and side-eye-rolling her direction is completely understood. Who needs Spanish or English.
Already I can tell after just a day-and-a-half here that ceramic tile floors are really no laughing matter. Truly. While brilliant for toss-a-bucket-of-water-easy cleaning, they are not easy on the hips and back. One help I found was stretching and yoga asanas of course, but most innovative thus far was the discovery that these stretches can be done while you walk in order to save time. Voila, I have discovered how this culture learns to move their hips so freely – it is a necessity of health and not a provocative enticement. I continue my practice of hip stretches to the extreme – but in the privacy of my dorm room which is large enough to sleep 16 people.
It is very common for convenience stores to sell beer. Convenience stores are about 20 square feet. A lot of product can be housed in that small of real estate. The owners that want you to hang out on the curb and socialize will serve the beer preparada for you. This surprisingly delicious combination is the equivalent of a beer bloody Mary; add Clamato or tomato juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and lime and pour into a cup rimmed with chili powder. It will be prepared in the combination you like right there on the counter with the chewing gum and the cigarettes. Something about a beer-made-to-order because the owner wants us to hang out on the stoop and the fact that it doesn’t cost me NoVA prices makes me nostalgic for niceness. Like when I was a kid and we were allowed at age 6 to walk blocks away to spend what my Grandmother called our inheritance – .25 ¢ – and the owner of the D&J was happy to see Katie and Gene’s grandchildren in town for a visit. Andrew and I don’t even have chairs – we sit on the stoop with the chewed chewing gum and the smoked butts and with the other patrons. I believe at home this might be a chargeable offense, loitering. Here, there is a sweet feeling of being with my adult son who knows that his mama doesn’t need much; just a beer and his company. Of course the shop owner has informed her husband that Andrew is there and he comes from somewhere with a new grandbaby on hip and he and Andrew have a long conversation about families. I am able to pick this up because the owner has been practicing his English with Andrew for these past two years. He is proud that I can understand when he tells me the little one is his nephew’s baby. He is like a Grandpa. This plain place feels warm and happy; I am beginning to formulate a plan for a business once I return home…..
Today Andrew and I had only an hour to trek into town for the twice-weekly market. Think, rather, hear loud and busy. Hear someone selling shrill whistles to children and if you don’t have one, someone yelling at you to buy one. Think and see loud colors. Everything here is bright orange and red and pink and green – all the fruits, all the peppers, all the clothes. Women dress happily here. Nothing matches but everything, everything has a smile. The enormous cups of chopped fruit are also served preparado – with chili powder and lime on top. There are flavored waters that are too real to be smart – everything from lime to hibiscus to coconut. My favorite thing I can’t get out of my head though was the blender parts man. This little puesta was perhaps two fold-up tables and truly, it was the Holy Grail of blender parts. You need a rubber ring? You need the blade? The motor? Just the lid? Each displayed in perfectly engineered rows and it just looked so….specialized. The equivalent of moving past a general medical degree and becoming the person who knows the most about the lining of the eyeball. This vendor is who you go to in the world for blender stuff. No cluttered colorful bins for him of barrettes and bows next to the bins of nail clippers and combs and scrub brushes. Just blender parts. I loved him instantly. I struggled to remember which parts remained under my own cupboards at home. I do know there is a partial blender or two there just hungry and waiting for the missing components in order to be whole. I wonder and fantasize if a table of appliance parts and beer could be profitable along the bike path in my town…..
Andrew says it is common for the Mexicans to lie. I find this a harsh stereotype and not very pc but Blanche confirms it at our night on the town. Andrew and I were in the middle of the first prepared beer at the convenience store. Blanche and her husband Jesús saw us and in 10 minutes called Andrew to inform they were sending the car back for us with Lalo (Eduardo) driving. We joined them at a local restaurant and had more preparados, but their version was the giganticmundo sized ones. My son says Sleep-World, called Dormundo, does not grant me the right to attach ‘world’ to everything. Still, if the shoe fits. Anyway, just because Blanche and her husband grew up in the orphanage, are married now, directors, and live here with their two children doesn’t change my mind that the judgment is a terrible stereotype. She tells me in perfect English, “Wait and see.” We leave our dinner full and happy and this makes the ride home more….full and happy. Blanche and Jesús insist we ride with them and what a lovely idea but of course there is also Lalo plus their two sons plus Andrew plus myself. Somehow a different zip code makes me see the other zip code as rather uptight and the spontaneous and unworried nature of everyone in Mexico makes it feel right to squeeze in and lap travel all together. By the way, we didn’t die.
My fourth client today was Blanche, only at the door was Servando who said in really good English, “I am Andrew’s friend. I am here for my massage. Blanche cannot come – she has too much work.” Like me, you should hear in your head something of a mix between Antonio Banderas and Inigo Montoyo from The Princess Bride. In any country, it sends the radar off if the client is chatty about complimenting you, the massage therapist. Servando starts with how, like me, my daughters are beautiful. Uh-oh here we go. Then he tells me that he told Andrew, ‘’Perhaps you and I, Andrew, will one day be brother’s-in-law”. Servando then mimicked Andrew’s stern toned response which was, “Never speak of this again.” We laugh because I know my son is protective of his hermanas and probably Servando is kidding. Or not. Who can tell. I try to make a note to confirm this with Andrew later. Just then Blanche knocks on the door, ready for her massage appointment. I step out to consult with her privately that Servando had already informed me that she could not come. She said not privately, “He is lying.” Graciously she says she will wait and I continue with Servando’s stolen session. He continues chatting, “Where is your husband?”, but now I am not in the mood for his shenanigans plus I know where his Achilles heel is as it were. A particularly caught area between his spine and right scapula at approximately T-4. He has a trigger point that is painful when deep pressure is applied. I do. He yelps in pain and I pretend I don’t speak Spanish even though ayeeyeooww is perfectly understandable in any language. He stops questioning and commenting about my personal life and wonders worriedly about his body and what is wrong. I consider telling him it’s the spot that lies go to until you stop telling them. Probably unethical, but if the shoe fits……