10 Things I Learned While Sucking Down Margaritas at Ojeda’s

 

Margarita

 

1. It’s hard to make a grand entrance at the restaurant when obnoxious people are blocking your way.

Okay, Mr. Speed Bump, I understand that the 47 pounds of spicy, fried lard that you just ate might slow you down a bit. Got it. But seriously, why are you finding it necessary to come to a complete halt in the tiny lobby? This is a certified transit area, not a campground. I can’t even open the door all the way because you have claimed squatter’s rights at the cashier’s desk, telling your life story while the rest of your amazingly-extensive family is just standing there, wiping grease off their chins and belching.

Quit talking to that cashier. She is not your friend and she doesn’t care. She is only being nice to you because you just handed her money. “Did you enjoy your meal?” is not an invitation for you to start babbling about how your gout is acting up or you might have to have something removed. Grab a complimentary toothpick and GO.

2. I am apparently not as fond of screaming, hyperactive children as the rest of the world.

Dear Hostess Person: No, I’m not going to follow you to that table which you are indicating. Why? Do you see what’s going on at the next table? The one where something has apparently exploded, causing small humans to lose their minds and start throwing food while howling at a decibel level that can bring down a plane? There’s queso on the ceiling, for God’s sake. I don’t want to be anywhere near that.

And don’t look at me in confusion, wondering why I don’t find the howlers to be adorable little tykes that make me want to hug and kiss them. These are not the good kind of children, who quietly sit there and do nothing but count as a deduction on income tax returns. These are Satanic minions hell-bent on destroying civilization. I don’t even want to be in the same room with the Children of the Corn Tortilla. Please adjust your GPS and let’s find a more subdued area of this establishment.

3. It is a law of nature that you must order margaritas in a Mexican restaurant.

I don’t care what time of day it is, tequila just sets the appropriate tone, and somehow biologically prepares your body for the impending influx of food items that your doctor has warned you to never touch again. (He’s not here right now, so screw him.) And don’t ask me lame little questions like whether I want a large or small margarita. Can you not tell by the pinched expression on my face that I have no desire for an alcoholic beverage served in a teacup? I want BIG. I want people to be frightened by the size of my beverage-ware, that kind of big.

4. Everything on the menu at Ojeda’s is the best thing ever.

You can’t go wrong. Close your eyes, stab at the menu, and try it. You’ll squeal with a level of satisfaction that is nearly orgasmic. (Not that anybody will hear you due to the maelstrom of noise coming from the other room, with that table of unregulated offspring ripping apart the foundations of society whilst their parents do nothing to stop the madness.) Even the tortilla chips are delicious, but you don’t want to have too many of them, because they will take up valuable real estate in your tummy and you may not be able to finish your actual meal, a failure that will haunt you for days.

5. Puffed Tacos are a gift from Jesus.

I’d never even heard of these things before we started going to Ojeda’s years ago, but now I can’t get enough of them. They’re like little tiny taco salads in a fried Christmas ornament. We should have a national holiday for the saintly person who invented these. I can gnaw my way through several of them before my bulging stomach starts to raise the table off the floor and we have stability issues, with utensils and cellphones and vats of salsa sliding precariously about.

6. Tequila makes me talk.

Before I even finished the first beverage, I was rambling away about anything that popped into my head. Anything. This is a change of pace for my partner and me, because he’s usually the one to share his thoughts with any person, place or thing that will listen, while I just sit there and nod from time to time. But dump some tequila down my throat and I will share every single thought that enters my alcohol-drenched brain. This is probably why my friendship stats fluctuate so wildly on Facebook.

7. Tequila and some people don’t mix.

I’m talking about YOU, Miss Bellow-Guffaw three tables over. Why the hell are you yelling everything that you say? What’s up with that? Your equally-soused tablemate is right there. He can hear you just fine. There’s no need for this “raising the dead” business. You don’t need to be at that decibel level unless you’re parting the Red Sea or you’re in labor. Inside voice, please.

And while we’re on the topic, Mr. Thump-Bang in the booth behind me, what can you possibly be doing that makes it sound and feel like you tried to hog-tie something at a rodeo and failed miserably? Perhaps the laws of physics are beyond your grasp, so let me break it down for you: We are sharing the same seatback, which means that your rambunctiousness has a negative effect on me. Could you possibly sit still for twenty seconds so I can successfully get this guacamole-laden chip into my mouth instead of inadvertently smashing it into the side of my head?

8. Music sung in a foreign language is pleasing when you’re buzzed.

Typically, mariachi music is not my favorite. It’s just too insistent. But with a bit of inebriation, I’m transported to another world. It was truly divine and beautiful. I actually shed a few tears over this one song, where Yolanda did something something with some huevos, and the people of the village were offended by this and she was shunned forever, forced to wear used clothing and get her own water from the well. It was so sad. I asked our server if there was a place I could send money. He brought me another margarita instead, and said I could just give the money to him.

9. Your plate does not have to be empty before rude people want to take it.

No, I am not ready for you to whisk this away. Look, there’s a little bit of rice over here, and at least two bites of refried beans, and part of a puffed taco. This is a feast. There is no reason for you to be inquiring about the relocation of my tableware at this point. Yes, I understand that lately my focus has been on the straw in my margarita, but there’s no need for you to get demanding about my consumption process. When it’s time, I’ll ring a bell, okay? We’re going to tip you. Relax.

10. It’s much more fun when you aren’t the one who has to drive home after the margarita fest.

Terry has to pay attention and not kill people. All I have to do is sing and tell everybody what I think about unrelated topics like bratwurst and why Angelina Jolie’s lips are so big. So I did. All the way home. At one point, Terry was eyeing nearby cliffs with a desperate yearning in his eyes. I really wasn’t ready for a plunge into eternal darkness, so I eventually had to talk about things that might interest him as well, even though it pained me and ruined my conversational rhythm.

Finally, we made it home, where I joyously switched from margaritas to beer. Because mixing types of alcohol is such a good idea. The next morning, my uvula was swollen to the size of a Buick, I had no concept of what my name might be, and I quietly begged for Death to take me now. But all in all, it was a great birthday.

And I sure do love those puffed tacos…

 

(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 01/27/11. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)

 


10 Bizarre Things That Can Happen When You Take an Accidental Nap

10 Reasons Accidental Nap

 

  You know the drill. All you really meant to do was lie down for just a second or two, letting your body regroup after that ill-advised Chinese buffet. You pick up a trashy magazine, barely finish the first paragraph, and the next thing you know it’s two hours later and everything in your world is not right…

  1. You’re covered in sweat.

I have never understood what that mess was all about. Why were you sweating in your sleep? Does your body have to work harder when it tries to sleep during daylight? Did you sleep-walk and do aerobics? Is it a reaction to the Egg Foo Yung? Was the bed on fire at some point?

  1. Your mouth is completely dried out and your sinuses feel odd.

This means that you were snoring really hard, like at the chain-saw level, a level you normally only reach after tequila has been introduced and there was a drinking game involving tiny plastic pigs. The violent-snoring also explains why the cat is perched in the farthest corner of the bed, eyes wide, wearing a crucifix and clutching a tiny designer bottle of holy water.

  1. You have no idea what time it really is.

This confusion continues even if you look at a clock, because all the clocks in the room are showing that Devil Time that you know just can’t be right. Somebody has got to be playing a trick on you, right? Your panic and confusion increases as you check other rooms and other clocks, hoping that someone from Candid Camera is standing beside one, but you only get confirmation that, yep, two hours of your life done got sucked away. Just like the pig-tailed redhead in that movie where monkeys flew and people melted. Wait, perhaps Judy had the right idea on how to deal with change. Maybe you should find three traveling companions that like to walk and sing inspirational songs and things will get better? Or maybe not.

  1. The stumbling and general body dysfunction.

The impromptu nappage has your body really whacked out, and now your system is not cooperating in a pleasing manner. So there you are, staggering around and slamming into things that you normally wouldn’t have any problem navigating around. (“The corner of that dresser has always been there, sweetie. Don’t hate the furniture because it’s beautiful and stationary.”)

Of course, just as you trip over nothing and crash to the floor in front of your picture window at the front of the house, fanny waving in the air, Gladys Kravitz across the street will capture the action with her wireless phone, and then she will race to slap the evidence online. Within five minutes, 46 of your supposed friends will click “Like” and make rude comments about alcoholism and the elevation of your butt. You will have to un-friend these fools later, once you remember if you have a laptop and where it might be.

  1. The fuzziness.

Your head is all clouded, because your brain is confused, expecting input data that should have happened two hours ago, and the command center is short-circuiting trying to analyze and catch up. And you’re making things worse by sending signals to the brain like “I can’t believe I fell asleep!” (It’s obvious that you did, Rip Van Winkle) and “I wasted so much time!” (Did you seriously think you were going to do anything important, anyway? You were laying on your bed at three in the afternoon.)

  1. Food tastes funny.

There’s really no reason for you to eat, but you pinball your way into the kitchen and latch on to some comfort food, desperate for something that will return balance and normalcy to your life. But the food tastes all wrong, cottony and flavorless, so you pull your head out of the chocolate pie and shove it back in the fridge. You’re now starting to wonder if you’ve slipped into an alternate universe. This is a minimally interesting (“Hey, what if they have flying cars over here!”) but also terrifying (“What if they don’t get Ellen in syndication!”).

  1. No one seems to care about your trauma.

You turn on the radio, expecting to hear news reports that Anonymous has released a carefully-designed virus that makes people fall asleep on the job, meant as a political statement about Congress. But no, nobody seems to be saying anything about that. Just the same old songs from Britney (“Oops, I’m A Chipmunk on Helium Again”) and Bieber (“I’m A Millionaire and I’m Still in Puberty!”).

  1. You have lost the ability to communicate effectively.

Best friend Bitsy calls. She’s very excited about a new place in town where they serve rhubarb martinis and kiwi salsa. Everybody who is anybody is racing there right now in their Mini-Coopers. She heard that, just last weekend, RuPaul showed up unannounced and led a limbo competition using some guy in a thong as the limbo pole. Bitsy can be at your house in thirty minutes, run put on something cute that can be adjusted to slutty easily, should the need arise. If some of the men are already horizontal, this could be a good thing. Hey, gurl, hey!

Your tongue is still fuzzy and too big, and this is far too much information. You briefly try to remember what drinking binge or unexpected pregnancy led to your friendship with Bitsy, but you can’t recall. (There’s a vague memory about being in New Orleans and a situation came up where people were ready to do anything to win a strand of glittery beads. Most likely, it was not a proud moment.) You don’t have time for this, so you simply hang up on Bitsy without a word. She’ll be fine.

  1. The damage to your personal appearance.

A bit more focused now, having just had a one-sided conversation with someone who might be able to trump you with personal issues and thusly making you feel slightly better about yourself, you wander into the bathroom for a physical assessment in the mirror. This proves to be a horrendous plan of action. Your face is both mashed and puffy (was I dragged behind a horse carriage in Central Park?), your eyes are bloodshot and watery (well that certainly hints of drug use and/or angry serial-killer inclinations) and your hair is jacked, matted and twisted (the words “breach birth” come to mind). You will not be making any social appearances this evening.

  1. The eventual fallout and backlash.

Hours later, it’s 3 AM. Your body is still out of whack with the sleep thing, so your eyes are wide open and you don’t feel the tiniest bit tired. You briefly consider resuming the story in the trashy magazine, but that thing started this whole mess so it’s not really your friend anymore. There’s nothing on TV, despite the satellite beaming 712 channels into your bedroom. There’s no one you can call to kill time, because all of your friends are already slumbering or doing a backbend under a RuPaul stage prop.

You sigh, then you happen to notice the cat is still crouched in the far corner of the bed. Has he not moved? How bad was your snoring? You try to calm him. “It’s okay, BoBo. I won’t do that anymore. I’m all better now. Come on over here and let’s have us a nice little nap. Come on, lay right next to my leg like you always do.”

BoBo stays right were he’s at, clutching the bottle of holy water even tighter.

 

(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 04/13/12. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)


50/50

Cancun

 

So, dear readers, I just hit the big 5-0 a few days ago. I’ve been on the planet for half a century. Time flies. It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago when I was a bright-eyed college student, eager to make my mark on the world. But as most of us well-seasoned folk know, life intervenes, things change, priorities rearrange, and many dreams and ambitions get relegated to dusty boxes in unused closets with creaky, unoiled doors.

Despite the unexpected baggage, much of what you were is still what you are. Some things do shift, perceptions alter, and the rigidity of convictions can soften. (At least for the decent people, I should say. The whack jobs just get crazier.) In contemplating all of this, I thought it would be interesting to capture 50 random thoughts, one for each year that I have trod the boards on this stage we call Life. I wanted to compare the fresh innocence with the road-tested reality.

The result was an interesting mix. Despite my attempts to be serious, there were intrusions of humor. (I can’t hold that beast down; it’s part of me.) Despite my attempts to be forgiving and inclusive, I had some bitter moments. (Some people are just stupid and mean; there’s no way around it.) And there are a few current flashpoints that I never would have considered, back in that college dorm. But in the end, I was somewhat surprised, but mostly pleased, to find that most of what I would have written 30 years ago is what I am still writing today.

50 wishes on my 50th birthday.

Enjoy…

 

  1. I wish that restaurants gave you the right amount of salad dressing the first time so you didn’t have to ask for more.
  1. I wish I had learned how to say “no” a long time ago.
  1. I wish more people would follow through when they say “we should do this more often”.
  1. I wish everything could come with a side of bacon. Even a visit to the doctor. (“Um, could you hold my bacon while I step on the scales? Thanks.”)
  1. I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life proving myself to others instead of to myself.
  1. I wish that I could always remember why I walked into a room.
  1. I wish I had the time to read an entire book every day. And that people who don’t read books could somehow instinctively understand that they should leave me alone.
  1. I wish that hard-hearted people could empathize with the circumstances of others instead of building walls and pointing fingers.
  1. I wish that I had spent more time doing instead of considering.
  1. I wish that a mental workout helped you lose as many pounds as a physical workout. Of course, there are a lot of people who have never done the first, so they’ll still have to depend on the second.
  1. I wish that I could master the art of creating a mean batch of sausage gravy. I apparently lack the appropriate chromosome to make this a reality.
  1. I wish there was a law that prevented people who didn’t vote from bitching about the election results. You stayed at home? Well, stay there, and keep your mouth shut.
  1. I wish for the day when the races are so mixed that the bigots no longer have definable targets for their skin-based hatred.
  1. I wish we could get away from this “you get a medal just for showing up at the competition!” mindset. You have to lose sometimes to appreciate winning.
  1. I wish that the snooze button on the alarm actually stopped time.
  1. I wish food was always on the table for everyone.
  1. I wish my drifting-off-to-sleep thoughts were automatically recorded to my laptop. I have the best nocturnal story ideas, which naturally dissolve by morning…
  1. I wish I could spend a year in Italy. Preferably with George Clooney.
  1. I wish I had learned years ago that your career does not define you.
  1. I wish I had said “thank you” more often.
  1. I wish that no child should ever have to wonder if they are worthy.
  1. I wish that the TV Networks would go back to letting a series develop over time instead of cancelling a show three minutes after it premieres.
  1. I wish that our nation can somehow quash the devastating effect of the Citizens United ruling that killed any pretense of a fair election process.
  1. I wish that you could slap stupid people in public and receive a medal of honor instead of a court summons.
  1. I wish for world peace, even though I realize that such a thing contradicts with the business models of many major corporations.
  1. I wish that everyone has the chance to sit on a sandy beach and watch the waves roll in, with nowhere to be and no emails to answer.
  1. I wish certain people understood that religion is an option in this country, not a mandate. If that annoys you, perhaps you should make plans to move. Good luck with that.
  1. I wish that no one be ridiculed for their love of guacamole. We all have secret passions, and we have all eaten messy things.
  1. I wish that right-wingers would actually read the Constitution and the Bible, because it’s clear that they have only flipped through the Cliff Notes version, if even that.
  1. I wish the Tea Party members realized that ignorance is not a virtue. But I understand that you generally lose them when complete sentences are involved.
  1. I wish more people understood that a civilized society requires respect, tolerance, compassion and benevolence. Otherwise, you might as well move back to the caves and bang on a rock.
  1. I wish that people really would break into spontaneous song and dance for no apparent reason, on random street corners, just like in a movie musical. Why would you not want to live in a world like that?
  1. I wish that the music industry would go back to hiring talent and not marketing concepts. And that Auto-Tune thing? Throw it in the trash.
  1. I wish that the traditional publishing industry would embrace the fact that digital books are here to stay. Stop fighting it and support the authors. Our words are just as worthy on paper or in the cloud.
  1. I wish that people would choose life partners based on possibility and not probability.
  1. I wish that fried pickles were more respected in our society. I’m tired of the horrified looks of my dinner companions when I order.
  1. I wish that I could be one of those people who never have regrets.
  1. I wish that more movies were made where nothing explodes, no one dies, special effects are not required, and the characters are allowed to figure out the right thing to do and then they do it.
  1. I wish the fashion industry could be based on realism and not anorexia. We are teaching our children the wrong things.
  1. I wish for the day when everyone takes responsibility for their own mistakes. This will be a stunning and unfathomable concept to many.
  1. I wish for the celebration of where you are going, not the stigmatization of where you have been.
  1. I wish that I really could teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.
  1. I wish my relatives who are racist could understand how much it turns my stomach when that filth comes out of their mouths. I love you, but sometimes I just want to walk out the door.
  1. I wish that people who have never been in a particular situation were not allowed to pass judgment on people who are actually in the situation.
  1. I wish that anyone who ever posts anything on the internet was required to use their real name. It’s easy to throw a brick of lies when you’re hiding behind a mask.
  1. I wish that the innocent wisdom of children could trump the malignant bitterness of old men.
  1. I wish for free ice cream for everyone. And affordable access to quality healthcare. There’s no valid reason why we can’t have both.
  1. I wish everyone had the courage to take a deep breath and leap off the Cliff of Possible Opportunity. You may or may not succeed, but you won’t know unless you try.
  1. I wish we could all be judged by our intentions and not the end result.
  1. I wish that I didn’t have to make wishes that people would just be decent and kind.

 


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