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If I played banjo, I could write and perform a song called The Bees Outside My Bedroom Window. In it I would sing about grandma's biscuits, which I eat hot from the oven with butter and honey from the bees outside my bedroom window.
On my way home from work last night I bought some of that new bread I am embarrassed about liking at the Co-Op on Fourth Avenue. The bread has about two dozen different grains and seeds in it, is a bit sweet, and the bag has a caricature of the long-haired, moustached company founder — who looks like he could be an ex-convict — playing guitar with his big muscles.
I think about how exciting this bag of bread would have been to me when I was experiencing puberty. Perhaps I would have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with it to eat while watching Midnight Express.
It turns out the founder is an ex-convict who got out of prison, perfected his bread recipe, and began speaking motivationally. Afterward, he could buy all the guitars he wanted and cars to drive them around in.
What's my point? Oh, right. Since Tiny Town Gallery is a couple doors down from the Co-Op and I'd read on the internet that Issue 2 of the Tiny Town Times, the risograph quarterly the gallery publishes with Tanline Printing, is available — Hurrah! — I stopped in and picked up a copy, which is free. Full disclosure: I say so not because I know it's free, but only because they didn't try to stop me when I walked out of the store without paying for it.
How effortlessly we forget the Spanish word for conversation pit.
Laundry Day Tip: If you want people to talk to you and tell you what they think at the laundromat, just add three tennis balls to the dryer.
We're in Mexico City, in the notorious Roma neighborhood, trying not very hard to not stand out while trying not to look like we're trying too hard to fit in. You know how it goes.
It's even gayer here than we thought it would be so if we come back, next time we'll be sure to do lots of push ups first so our chests will be ready and perhaps we'll also work on a time machine so our skin looks younger.
But we won't go for protein shakes and cigarettes after the gym. Which seems to be a popular workout routine here.
Some good news is that for the first time in my travels in another country I seem to have worn shoes that nobody looks down on. I have been wearing Converse sneakers for years, but this visit lots of other grown men are wearing them too, so nobody cares. I'm invisible.
While we're at dinner eating one of my favorite Mexican foods — Argentinian food — a fashionably dressed man in a geometrically patterned black-and-white shirt who seems to have 1985 on a speed dial app he keeps checking sits down at the table next to ours, blocking Hiram's view of another man wearing a sweater on his shoulders. Hiram confides he's always thought the sweater tied around the shoulders is a silly look, but when seated at the dinner table? And when it's 76 degrees out? It's really upsetting him. I have long known about the Mexico City Brideshead Revisted cosplay enthusiasts, but the strong feeling it provokes in Hiram is something I have never known about him.
Lots of things can bubble to the surface when couples travel together. It's healthy, you know?
Anyhow, we want to thank the man from 1985 for helping us enjoy our dinner with his line of sight prophylaxis but suddenly it dawns on us: What if he is Information Society and just wants some privacy? If so, we should probably respect that.
So we do.
I had this dream about being on the set of an Annie Lennox video. The gist of the thing was: How can we show all of Annie's looks through the years? On a pitch black soundstage a parade of models dressed in Lennox's outfits from all of her videos walk up black stairs and assebmble on a stage with two levels. The models are only shown close up from the back. When all the Annie's are assembled on the two levels and facing the camera, they are show from far back so you can't actually see their faces, just the bright colors of the outfits. Showgirl Diva Annie is there and my subconscious has dressed all the other Annie's in colorful costumes she may or may not have actually worn over the years — the latter most likely as I don't think I have actually seen that many of her videos. That said, I'm very aware right away that I don't see Sweet Dreams orange hair Annie, but she's one of the last to take the stage. Perhaps it was in reverse chronological order?
I can't help but think the video exists in some form already.
How effortlessly we forget the Spanish word for unflappable.
We're sixty minutes into Mexico, sitting on the enormous terrace of our itsy bitsy, teeny tiny, rented room. Hiram has asked me to name my five favorite Pet Shop Boys songs. When I try to negotiate counting the entire first album as one song, we have to change the subject. There was an eensie weensie crescent moon when we started this that is nowhere to be found. Now we’re alone here under a black sky observing Taco Tuesday eating takeout empanadas with chimichurri, an Argentinian thing for which I am offering no alliteration.
First beach day, 2017. All of Playa Bonita and Sandy Beach was covered with discarded plastic bottles and Doritos bags – typical but it still always bums me out and leaves me thinking the worst things about people.
Here's a photo of some festive and neglected garbage bins.
Did you know the Spanish word for industrial drum is tambo? I get a kick out of saying it because it's also the sound they make when you drum on them. ¡Tambo!
And here's to words that are fun to say, bright colors and finding the good anyway.
Sometimes on Sundays, we walk to Rincon Market where Hiram orders an Arnold Palmer. Except he doesn’t call it an Arnold Palmer. He calls it iced tea with half iced tea and half lemonade.
- The approximate number of weeks in a year.
- A significant number in the Maya calendar
- On the piano, the number of white keys (notes in the C major scale)
- The number of cards in a standard deck of playing cards, not counting Jokers or advertisement cards
- The name of a practical joke card game 52 Pickup
- "52 Pick-Up" is a film starring Roy Scheider and Ann Margaret
- The code for international direct dial phone calls to Mexico
- A weekly comic series from DC Comics entitled 52 has 52 issues, with a plot spanning one full year.
- The New 52 is a 2011 revamp and relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing monthly superhero books.
- The number of letters in the English alphabet, if majuscules are distinguished from minuscules
- The number of the French department Haute-Marne
- 52nd Street (disambiguation)
- 52 Hand Blocks, a variant of the martial art jailhouse rock.
- 52 is the car number of retired NASCAR driver Jimmy Means
- 52 American hostages were held in the Iran hostage crisis
At the supermarket today I have learned there is a Spanish language expression that apparently means both "Get down off of there!" and "Let your sister out of the egg case!"
¡Basta, ya! No los voy a llevar al .99 cent...
Spring has sort of come and gone early this year, feeling like little more than a quickly practiced ritual. February hadn't even begun before balmy days and the acacian pom-poms worked us all up with their jellybean scented cheer, sending some on blissed out walks and bike rides and others into allergic fits.
But by mid-March temperatures were already in the nineties and many of the yellow flowers—which this time of year are usually still dancing to unseen music against a deep blue sky—those flowers are down on the curb loitering as if there's going to be an after-party, but they don't know where yet.
Also around town, there are those shrubs with the red flowers that when they blossom always make me think of fishing lures. Now, after a week of hot sun, they're a bit more like a well-used cosmetics brush you spot on the sidewalk outside the drag bar during an early morning walk-of-shame home. Inevitably, not far away, there's that gamier bush, the one with the greyish flowers that smell like—how to say it?—a happy ending.
Sometimes the glass in the picture reflected the light outdoors and the flight of birds between branches of trees, and while it reflected, Mr. Holifield was having a dream.
– Eudora Welty. June Recital.
I am enjoying the images in this sentence and its efficiency.
Sometime after my parents divorced, my mother was driving us home from a Thanksgiving spent with my grandparents in Fresno. She decided we would go through Nothern Arizona so we could stop and visit her Uncle Andrew. I didn't think I had ever met Uncle Andrew, but I had heard his name a lot before. He held a high position in our church and had been in a war. He was something of mystical hero to my mom and her side of the family.
I was an impatient ten-year-old prone to car sickness and didn't want to make any trip longer than it had to be.
“Can't we just go home?”
“You love Uncle Andrew.”
“I don't even know him.”
“You do, but don't remember it because you were just a baby. Everyone loves Uncle Andrew. He's a stake president. Did you know he has not eaten chocolate since coming back from the war?”
That part about being a stake president, that is an important church role to Mormons, so he must have had a lot of clout in his largely Latter Day Saint community. The other part, about the chocolate, is a non-sequitur. And that is the way we talk in my family.
“He doesn't eat chocolate?”
“No. Something happened to him in the war and he won't eat chocolate.”
“What about his kids? Can they eat chocolate?”
“Yes, but he won't.”
“Why? What happened to him in the war?”
“He never said. He probably had a vision.
I still was not happy about extending the agony of the road trip, but it was inevitable. I started to wonder now if I might be able to find out why a wise man wouldn't eat chocolate. Could he have been tortured with chocolate somehow? Maybe an angel appeared to him and promised to deliver him safely home from the war if he vowed never to eat candy bars again. Adults won't ask things like that, but given the chance I probably would.
So we went to see Uncle Andrew.
Uncle Andrew's house was huge compared to the houses I knew, so I thought it must be true that he was a successful and important person. There were the familiar prints of Joseph Smith and Blonde Jesus in gilded frames. There were doilies on the arms of the couches and, just like my mom'sother aunts and uncles' houses, everything smelled like Ben-Gay. Also, the house had a basement that wasn't like the few gross basements I had seen when we lived in Mesa. The basements I had seen there had dirt floors and were where the hot water heater was. They smelled of insecticide and us kids were forbidden from going in without a grown-up. Technically, I think they were cellars or crawl spaces, but the hastily built cinder block houses in the area where we were living in Tucson by then didn't have even those.
The basement at Uncle Andrew's was like in houses on television. There were bedrooms and bunk beds and there was carpet and there was a rec room with weights and trophies and black-and-white photos of my mom's now grown and moved-away cousins as high school track stars. Yes, there was wood paneling. To ten-year-old me it seemed like they had a vacation home underneath their real home. I spent as much time there as I could that day studying the trophies and pictures of my mom's athletic cousins, wondering about their lives and thinking abouthow to ask Uncle Andrew later why he wouldn't eat chocolate.
But I was cut short.
At dinner he announced, “Your boys need haircuts. Before you folks leave tomorrow, I'll get the clippers out and shear 'em.”
“What does shear mean?” I asked.
“That's what we have to do to the sheep, so we can make coats with the wool.”
Ha, ha! Cool. I wanted to see the clippers and hoped I could get the flattop the cousins in the photos all had. I laughed and made a joke. Would they sell our hair to make coats? Ha, ha!
Then without missing a beat, he added,“We also have to do it when little boys start looking like little girls, like you do.”
All the adults laughed again. But, ouch. I probably made a face because my mom shot me a dagger.
I no longer wanted the flattop. I no longer cared about making these people laugh. I just no longer wanted to be there. As soon as he left the room I told my mom I didn't like him and I wasn't getting a haircut.
“You'll behave and you'll get a haircut.”
“We'll see about that.”
When Uncle Andrew came back, he asked mom if I was giving her trouble.
“He gets a little big for his britches sometimes. He thinks he's not getting a haircut, but he's getting a haircut. You're right. He needs one. Thank you for offering.”
I don't remember what was said next. I do remember there was shouting and tears and probably spitting. That was something I did then. When everything seemed horrible and beyond my control, I spit. Soon Uncle Andrew gave me a bad haircut, a hard spanking, and a talk about boys growing up without fathers needing discipline.
When we left the next day, Uncle Andrew said, “Bring your little girl back for a haircut and a spanking any time.”
More laughter. I fumed and tried to make sense of what had happened. It was too much though.
I had a dad. I hadn't done anything wrong. I actually wanted the haircut at first. Why did he have to say I looked like a girl? Why did that feel so, I dunno, yucky?
It would be years before I comprehended why it feels creepy when grown men are bothered by little boys looking like little girls.
But mostly I wanted to know why my mom, who was still angry with me, had let him spank me.
“He loves you and he is worried about you.”
“Well, I hate him. I hope I never see him again.”
“If you talk like that again, I'll spank you. One day you'll understand and you'll be thankful.”
But I didn't and I'm not.
Years later when it happened that a man I was dating turned out to be from Uncle Andrew's town and congregation. I told him the story about the haircut and the spanking.
“Really?” He asked, “I always thought he was a sweet guy, but I can see it. He was awfully stern with those kids. Did you ever find out about the chocolate?”
“No. I didn't care after that.”
And it's true, I didn't. By the time we got back to our cinder block house without a basement or a father's discipline, I decided Uncle Andrew had probably had just come down with food poisoning in whatever country he was in and later, when he didn't want to talk about the diarrhea, everyone reconciled his stubborn silence with something unquestionably sacred. Another time when people who should know better got their faith mixed up with some man's awful crap.