Part I
I adjourn to Lolita's cafe to sulk over a pineapple fruit salad. I pick at my meal and drink another gin fizz. Next to my table is a cage, with a beautiful grey squirrel with russet belly. At this moment, he's eating his supper, which is being fed him by the son of the owner of Loly's. Large wriggly grasshopper.

I take a bite of crunchy pineapple, and look over, and Squirrel is chowing down on the head of a crunchy 'hopper, and I look away, at the huge American sitting next to me telling me about his life in Mexico. Both of them are down-home Ugly. You can guess at how ugly the grasshopper, especially without his head. The American isn't doing much better, even with his head.

There's this swath of scar tissue across the lower jaw (of the American), and those funny round thick dirty reflecting glasses you can never see through. Where the hair should be up front the dome of his forehead is red, cooked, sweaty, and freckled. He has a torn teeshirt (labelled "Giants") under which a giant belly strives to poke out.

For the purposes of this narrative I will call him U. P. because he worked for United Press in Bangladesh ("It was just a job") then he took off and his wife "sold Mexican:" bought furniture and clothes down here to Oaxaca, trucked them up to their shop in San Antonio, sold them, then came back down to buy some more. They did this for twenty-five years.

U. P. has invited me to sit down at the table in Lolita's Café. With him are Eve and Moise. I must have been disconsolate: never in a hundred years would I sit down with Eve, Moise, and United Press at Lola's unless I were Tennessee Williams trying to weave one of those weird plays out of all of this and me and them. I am too angst-ridden to do anything but mutter and drink orange gin fizzes, and listen to all their improbable tales.

For example, Moise. Moise is a Mexican artist, has been living with Eve, the dark and throaty American next to me who jingles and jangles and who tells us she used to swim naked in the bay of Puerto Jesús before it was discovered. That was back then when it was a simple fishing village where lonely American women could come and strip themselves down to the altogether and swim in the crystal waters of the Pacific and end up in the arms of a patient Mexican young man lithe of body and filled with the spirit of the Mayans and the lust of the young.

But, she tells us --- between puffs and coughs of her dark Ala Cigarettes --- in the thirteen years she's been living here things have changed. Now she's living with Moise and the two of them are about to have a fight because Moise and perhaps most if not all of the others around the table are getting drunk.

Carlos (that's me) and Moise and Eve and U. P. have been sitting together in Lola's cafe for several hours, brooding about dead wives, or pinche gringos, or rasty lovers --- and and then there is me and those grasshoppers, and my stinky mood, and such and all. When they start their fight, I hope it won't be about feeding grasshoppers to squirrels, or about the language, or about swimming in the buff, or about getting drunk --- especially the latter, because I am one of your passive drunks: I drink and think of all the bad things I've done, am doing, and will continue to do in the future.

When I'm in that state, I am no trouble to anyone at all, except to myself, being so tediously morose. Having me around is like partying with a moose or a potato or an old lemon sponge-cake.

U. P. is doing all the talking, anyway. He is also doing something that drives me crazy: he is talking in English talking about Mexicans, specifically about the Mexicans in front us, a Mexican who doesn't speak any English. U. P.'s schtick for this evening's panel discussion is the Mexican Mind ("they can't fix anything, everything breaks down, they're useless around machinery; I can't understand the Mexican Mind.")

Here we are sitting around with a Mexican, namely Moise, who can't speak English, except, I gather, an occasional "fuck, mon," and he's getting more and more sullen, and Eve has started saying that she's got a hard night ahead of her, that Moise is getting drunker and drunker, and since she is talking about him in English, too, she doesn't look at him or mention his name, just refers to him in the third person singular. "He's getting soused. You don't know what he can do when he is soused. O my god. What am I gonna do?"

Now, I may be drunk and sullen, but I figure that Moise knows that Eve is talking about him, and that U. P. is talking about him, or his countrymen, so I pull myself briefly out of the great Pacific Chasm, the ultimate Dark Slough, and suggest that we all talk in Spanish, so that anyone around us who doesn't speaka da inglish won't think that we are talking about them and their culture behind their back, as it were, like we are, and U. P. points out to me that he's never had the time to learn Spanish, lord knows, what with his business and all, buying Mexican, that is. U.P.'s working vocabulary it turns out, after twentyfive years, is limited to "sí" and "no." "What am I doing here?" I think, ordering another gin fizz from the waitress who with her murky eyes and puffy lips may be Lolita herself, all grown up.

Go on to
Part II


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