There is a lovely woman close to my house who makes me quesadillas and tacos many times a week. She has a little stand in the road in front of her house, and several local regulars collect in the mornings for her superb cooking and amazing guacamole.
Today, I was enjoying my quesadilla when out of nowhere and an old man walks by and says, “Just let me get some juice, I’ll be right back.” in extremely clear English. Since I was obviously the only person around who understood what he said, I assumed this was aimed at me. I’ve never seen him before. He came back with a half gallon of orange juice, sat down at the table, and we proceeded to chat.
After the niceties of where-are-you-from and how-long-will-you-be-in-Mexico, he revealed that he spent 45 years as a professional singer and toured extensively around the US. After seven wives, 15 states, and tours of the Caribbean and Central America, he’s settled happily with his three dogs in Tlaquepaque.
He brought out an old photo album full of 50 year old shots of marquee boards in NYC and Los Angeles with his name as well as other traveling latin performers. My favorite was of esposa numero cinco:
In Mexico, people “invite” you to do things. “I invite you for a sopa” means I am being treated, or given something. A sopa here is a really thick tortilla with a huge pat of butter (or in this case chemical smelling margarine) cooked until the butter melts and the sopa is a little crunchy on the bottom, then salsa and frijoles are sprinkled on top.
After inviting me for a sopa, the sly old man slipped me his phone number stating that if I ever had an emergency or needed help to not hesitate to call. We chatted for a while and he helped translate some of the questions that the locals had been trying to ask me that I didn’t understand. He also said that he sees a Mexican marriage for me in my future, but that I should show him the man first so that he can tell me if he is good or not. This from a man with seven ex-wives. But maybe it takes that kind of man to recognize that kind of man. Then he sang a couple of lines from Love is a Many Splendid Thing.
As I left the taco stand, one of the childhood adages that most American kids learn was presented, “Don’t be shy, mi casa es su casa.”
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