**I was invited to guest-blog at "is it 5 o'clock yet?" blog. Here's the entry and some comments. Some of that blog's fans have already commented.
why you shouldn't tell your family where you live
after i wrote this, the commish made a comment and i knew then that there was a story waiting to come out. so i asked him to spill the goods. and boy did he. after reading his tale, i'm not sure i'm qualified to bitch about my family again. one thing was made crystal clear, it sucks to be mexican. thanks commish, for sharing your story. collectively we agree that you have it the worst. don't forget to leave some love for the commish.
“Dia De La Slug -- Revised.”By Javier E. Najera (a.k.a. The Commish)
Hola, Shauna Glenn fans! I was invited to vent my Mexican dirty laundry on this great blog, and in doing so I must make some disclaimers:
I am a third generation Mexican American, born and raised in El Paso (which is Little Mexico for all intents and purposes).
I transferred to the Chicken Fried Nation (which means DFW for you non- Galloway fans) in 1992. So, when I write of my people’s woes, I speak from experience.If you are a Mexican, Latino(a), Hispanic, et al, please don’t think I’m “dissing” my people. Remember, you laugh and the world will laugh with you. Cry and you cry alone!
The thing I enjoy the most of the 5 o’clock blog is its brutal honesty and color-esque vernacular. When Shauna spoke of trying to have a “dia de la slug,” a myriad of memories came. There is no such thing as a Mexican holiday or day off from family. Really, there isn’t…
In 1995 my wonderful sis-in-law graduated from college. My wife and I felt a celebration was in order, so we “got the word out” to local friends and family in El Paso. We planned a western-themed party, complete with hay, denim, cowboy hats, etc. At that time it was only my wife, sis-in-law and myself that left that nest of El Paso, so we were sure it’d be a quaint little crowd. It would have been precious memory, except for the following:
Mexicans don’t RSVP even if you demand one. We had no clue if we were planning for 20 or 200. Because we (wife, sis-in-law, and myself) were all at the tail end of college, we shared an 800 square foot apartment near campus with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Thinking nobody would show up from El Paso, we didn’t worry (remember, when Mexicans visit, they stay with you. There’s no such thing as hotel reservations).
Someone in the family did call to say they were coming, and used this exact wording: “It’s just a few of us. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine in the apartment.”
On the eve of commencement, I awoke to the sound of the phone. It indicated someone was at the security gate, surely the “few” from El Paso. I buzzed them in, managed the three S’s, well one anyway, and waited by the door. There were four cars, two vans and a truck with a camper in a distant sight. I started counting passengers, but stopped at 26. I pretended I hadn’t seen them parking yet, went inside and prayed for the first time that year. I awoke the ladies and said, “We have a problem.”
The final count was 28. They ALL stayed in the apartment. At one point, I was able to manage some floor space for a quick nap at night, and awoke to the sound of running water. Grandmamma was on the throne taking care of #1 business, with her gown all the way up. Yes! No over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder in sight! I haven’t been able to get that one out my mind after 13 years.
There are highlights in my memory of a two burned turkeys, a visit form the apartment complex management, who wondered why so many people were lounged in my balcony? At point we couldn’t find grandmamma, and someone spotted her sleeping in the back of the truck, the one with the camper. When asked why she went M.I.A., she moaned, “There are too many people in the apartment. This might have been a bad idea.”
Not counting the lodging arrangements, the party was a blast! We danced and drank deep into the night!
With two kids, XXX nights alone are at a premium. I know most of the readership knows that. Well, my wife and I plan such nights when sleepovers and gracious aunts want the girls to stay over. So, we dust off ye old see-through undies, chill the wine and plan a good meal. Sounds like a routine married-with-children-with-no-children plan. Yeah, but does your entire family have keys to you house? Do they all know the code to your garage door?
Since 1995, we have had some family move here. It’s assumed and expected that they will get keys to your house, cars and know all codes to get in, in lieu of. In one of our most successful Night Sans Kids, we were just about to the hot wax and feather phase when we heard the garage door going up.
A cousin decided she wouldn’t make it to her place to watch her novela (soap opera), so she thought it’d be OK to come to our house and watch it. Unannounced. She saw no problem in tapping the 4-digit code on the garage pad and coming in.The fact that the lights were all off (we took advantage of all square footage) did not make any impression on her.
We rushed to pickup the props, oils and candles, headed to the bedroom and got dressed. I came out and asked, “What are you doing?”With a confused almost offended reaction she said, “Nothing. Just came to watch TV. That’s OK, isn’t it?”
“Why not. We weren’t using it anyway. Enjoy.”
Defeated and deflated, I joined my bride in the bedroom. We accepted our defeat and feel asleep hoping our guest would remember to lock the door behind her.
And we can't leave out...
Camping is a favorite activity. Very, very nice friends of ours offer their 35’ RV every year for our use. The RV is suitable for 12 people. This past summer, we decided to do the unthinkable. We – just the four of us – went camping in East Texas. A wife, two daughters and me – all alone! Finally! It looked like a nice, well planned time. We planned the covert operation with surgical precision and left the house unnoticed at 04:00.
Well, we made it to campsite a couple hours later (still at a 4-count), checked in, and to that point I really felt we could and would enjoy it. Breakfast was the word, and as much as we “roughed it,” cell phones are never far away. They started ringing.The first calls were to my wife, with questions of, “Where are you guys? We’re here at your house. Your cars are here, where are you?”
The second round o’ rings were friends, who found out from the first group of callers we had an RV. By the time breakfast was done, the damage was too. Knowing what was about to happen, I convinced the ladies a walk and paddleboat ride was the thing to do.
Katrina? Ike? Bring them on. What was about to happen at the magical family campsite could not compare. I wasn’t about to make it easy for the masses, which I was sure were on their way.
We had to admit our location, but not our campsite. Let them look through the 1000 wooded acres.I forgot one thing, though. I hoisted my Cowboys flag (in honor of the 13-3 season) and my Red Sox flag (in honor of the World Championship), both high and mighty at our site. That would be the only beacon they needed. Who else would have a Red Sox flag in East Texas?
From our position on the lake we could see our borrowed RV. I wanted one last look for a lasting picture memory before the storm-o-Mexicans flooded in. We saw about 7 cars pull up, cheerful and excited to be non-invited, unannounced guests.
The fridge was raided. The drinks consumed. Two people, who felt it necessary to “look for us”, broke my Dallas Cowboys folding chairs. We kept paddling, pretending not to see them. They did have the decency to go to the campsite store and re-stock. We finally made our presence known at sunset, and enjoyed a great dinner…for 20.
Those are just a few. I could go on, but I’m already at way-too-long status.
My people are known for their loyalty to family above just about anything. And, though the above named examples made me want to use a nail gun to my temples, in hopes of relieving stress, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
In the end, all we have are memories.
And, I have many, many memories of all my unannounced family to take.
PS – If you ever want to a Mexican to arrive at your party/meeting/event on time, please tell them it starts two hours before it really starts. Mexicans have two clocks: real time and Mexican time. We don’t pay much mind to the first.