He does other guys…
It was Valentines Day 2004 and I was single. (That has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post. I just thought I would throw the info out there.)
I woke up that morning, checked my suitcase to make sure I had everything packed, woke up Drama Queen (DQ), got her ready and made sure her clothes were packed.
We hopped in the car and I drove to my mom’s house. I was heading to Mexico for a week to work on three magazine articles and the six-year-old Drama Queen was kickin at grandma’s crib while I was south of the border.
After dropping DQ, it was south to Santa Ana to pick up my interpreter, Mustang, then off to LAX to board our flight to Mexico City. We were staying in Mexico City for a couple days, heading southeast to Orizaba in Vera Cruz for three nights, then back to Mexico City for two more. Mustang was a female friend who had a lot of family in Orizaba as well as a couple cousins in Mexico City, so I figured she was the perfect person to accompany me.
I should probably warn you that I am fluent in Spanglish. Some of my close friends will even say that I speak my own unique dialect, which is to say that sometimes I think I know what I’m saying, but I’m really just talking out my ass. Whatever.
We grabbed a cab to our hotel overlooking the Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City, and checked in. I was starving and wanted to eat something, so we quickly dropped our bags in the room and headed down to grab some street tacos. I’m a big fan of Mexican street tacos and al pastor (bbq’d pork) is my absolute fav.
There was a stand right next to the hotel and we walked up to grab some. “Tres al pastor,” I said. Mustang ordered hers, then turned to me and said, “He wants to know if you want tacos de lengua.”
I looked at him, and in a loud voice said, “Shit no! Tres al pastor.” I might be a gringo, but I knew what the hell lengua was. In case you were wondering, lengua means tongue.
[Three years later I was in Long Beach and was picking up Mexican food for DQ and I. Our favorite Mexican place had a special that night, tacos de lengua, and I ordered a couple for her. She ate them and commented that it was really good carne asada. I told her it was lengua and that lengua meant tongue. She was pissed. Oh well. I called it a cultural experience.]
We got our tacos & Coke in the glass bottle and devoured them. After that we cruised around the corner so I could get my first lesson in Mexico City geography.
Mustang explained that the Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City and that it is the place that Mexicans have come to celebrate since Aztec times. Cool. This place was escuala vieja (old school). [That was a prime example of my own brand of Spanglish, as American slang doesn’t translate into Spanish, but I try and force it anyway.]
Standing there, we had our back to our hotel and on the left side of the Zocalo was the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, or Metropolitan Cathedral. To our right were Federal buildings and directly across from us was the Palacio Nacional, where the Mexican government sits.
Mustang explained that in Mexico, the President (at the time Vicente Fox) lived in one place and had his office in the Palacio Nacional. I said, “Cool. So this is La officina de Vicente?” She looked at me as if I was an idiot (I probably was) and said, “Sure.”
Two days later we headed to the bus station and took a bus to Orizaba, in Vera Cruz. I was doing a big article on the Dos Equis brewery and the original one was here. I had set up an interview and a tour and was pretty psyched.
We got off the bus, walked two blocks to our hotel, checked in, then walked to her abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house. Orizaba is off the tourist path and as we walked the mile or so, I noticed I was getting a lot of attention.
Yes. This is me in 2004.
After meeting the family, I said I was buying dinner for everyone and that I wanted to find some cool little cocina to eat. Her uncle, Tio Carlos (who spoke about as much English as I did Spanish) showed us a place to go.
There were six of us and we feasted on sopes (thick tortillas made of masa and topped with beans, meat, chiles and queso fresco (Mexican cheese). Everyone ate until they were stuffed and the meal, including Cokes, came out to about 220 pesos ($22 US). Sweet.
After dinner we crashed at the hotel for a bit, then met Tio carlos in the lobby so he could take us to his favorite watering hole. We started drinking and Tio and I attempted to conversate without the aid of Mustang. After a couple cervezas and a tequila shot, Tio made some comment about me being a gringo and not being able to drink like a Mexican.
I looked at Mustang and asked her if I heard what I thought I heard. She sighed and said, “Si. Tio thinks you can’t drink like a Mexican.” I looked over at him and said, “Bring it on Tio!” She translated for him and he got a big smile on his face as he looked at me and said, “Si?”
“Si Tio. Si. Uno momento.” I walked over to the bar and said, “siete (7) cervezas y seis (6) Patron, por favor.” As I came back to the table, the old man’s eyes were wide with amazement. I set one beer down in front of Mustang and divided the remaining drinks equally among us.
He looked up at me with a smile and I said, “Mexican car bombs. Let’s do this Tio.” (In case you were wondering, a Mexican car bomb is a shot of tequila dropped inside a draft beer.)
I loaded my three up and he did the same. We raised our glasses, said “Salud”, (to your health) and it was on. He hadn’t quite finished his second as I slammed my third one on the table. I playfully reached over for his third bomb and he slapped my hand away and finished it himself.
After he finally consumed his last one, he got up from the table, came over to me, hugged me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “Now you are Mexican.” I out drank an oldtimer and became an honorary Mexican. How cool is that?
We continued to drink and he mentioned he had a son living in Mexico City. I asked him what his son does and Tio looked me dead in the eye and said, “He does other guys.”
I stared at him for a second, not quite sure what to say, and said, “No. Para un trabajo.” (For a job). “Ohhhhh,” said Tio. “He works in a bank.” I glanced at Mustang for a moment and she explained that her cousin was homosexual.
“Yeah. I got that. Thanks.”
Two days later Tio went back to Mexico City with us. I somehow managed to go to the bus station in Orizaba and bought three seats on the right bus at the right time. I was quite pleased with myself for that accomplishment.
Our last two days in Mexico City produced no good stories, but it is an awesome city and I look forward to going back sometime soon. If I do, I think I need to bring The Kings Fan as my interpreter. He and I seem to have fun in Mexico and I’m sure I could get a blog post a day out of that trip.
Palabra a su madre. [Word to your mother]