Written as an introduction to a family cookbook on May-30-98 at 06:27P.
Our Story--The Beginning
I sat drinking my coffee in a small café in Mexico City in an area called Collacón, on one of those days when the air clung to you like a heavy jacket. It was one of those hang outs where members of the upper middle class go to drink fancy coffees and smoke cigars, and talk about their golf game. People were milling about as if ants on a militant journey. They walked around me in pursuit of their daily mundane lives and I observed them with keen interest. Outside of the fact that I was sporting a pair of sunshades, it was impossible to tell that I was the only person on the street that didn't belong. I had managed to blend in, to become one with the culture, to become one of them. However, despite the state of contented bliss in which I was enveloped, one thing weighed heavily with me.
I remember her well; she was constantly on my mind. Every time I turned around, I was catching a hint of her perfume. Relentlessly, she was the soul of my thoughts, my focus of energy, and my reason for smiling. I hadn't known her long, in fact, I had only met her a few times, but everywhere I looked, I saw her face.
I spoke her name often in those days, Brenda Zuniga—it just sort of rolls off the tongue. She was the exact double of a famous movie star in Mexico and I was determined to fall in love with her. The fact that her father was wealthy didn't discourage me much either. I sat there waiting for her to join me over a cup of café mocha, or café con crema, and I was lost in my thoughts when she arrived. We talked for hours, and as we prepared to leave, I agreed to attend her school graduation party that evening. I remember dressing in a nice suit that evening, a Spanish style suit that resembled a tuxedo, and I looked like Sylvester Stallone. Well, I wore a pair of glasses that looked like the ones he wore in a movie. However, as excited as I was to be Brenda's date, I will never forget Juan Carlos. He was the one that stole her away and sent me home with a cut rose and a commemorative handkerchief.
Looking back, I can say that, in a way, I owe all I have to Brenda and Juan Carlos. For it was a few months latter that I stole fifty dollars from a girl I knew at church.... But that is another story. Oh, what the heck, let's tell it anyway!
I had been home from Mexico for a short visit. I had a rough time of it there. I had just been run over by a car while riding my bicycle, and I badly needed some R & R. It was while I was visiting my home church that my father introduced me to a girl I only knew by sight. She was a preacher's kid, and you know what they say about them, they always are in trouble because they hang out with the deacon's sons. Therefore, I kept my respected distance. Only I had trouble not staring at her, and then after church I had trouble not talking to her. I was worried about my reputation, hanging out with that PK. Yet, there was mystery in her eyes and I wanted to know her better. So, when the opportunity came, I jumped on it quicker than a duck on a June bug.
Our parents were involved in a church meeting, so I accepted her invitation to go join her at the Dairy Queen for a Coke while we waited for them to join us. Well, that's when the Preacher's daughter showed her true colors.
I was in my car and (let's call her Sarah, for now, in order to protect the innocent) Sarah was following in her Oldsmobile. Her mother had given her a 50.00 bill to buy cokes, and I was appropriately impressed that these folks would drop a fifty for refreshments. I thought it over and decided that it would be funny to hide her fifty and watch her search for it. Heck, she probably had a handful of them. Then when she was desperate for money, I would produce that fifty and offer to buy the drinks and let her keep the change. When you have ears like mine, you have to use every advantage you can.
That's when a fly got into the ointment. After I had lifted the fifty, (I learned lots of things in Mexico), I saw that my brother Jeb was on the side of the road with a flat tire and I went to see if he needed help. I told her brother Roy that I would be right there, and went on my Good Samaritan trip. I was only gone for a short time, but upon my arrival, I saw Sarah digging frantically through her purse and Roy standing behind her calmly sipping at his straw. Well, I arrived with my fifty to save the day but Roy gave me up like a little stool pigeon. Sarah acted offended and I suspicioned that she might become angry. So I said, “I guess that this is not a good time to ask you to marry me?”
She launched into a speech that involved her mother and the last fifty dollars they owned, but I sat down and tuned her out, listening to Roy talk about his favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
I knew that she spelled trouble, but I ignored the warning bells screaming in my head. Throwing caution to the wind, I began to fall in love with her—and even married her. Living with Sarah has been something of an adventure, to say the lest. As I think back on all the things that have happened to me like, when her cat urinated on my last clean shirt, or when we over filled her waterbed, I think of Brenda and that rat Juan Carlos. All in all, I guess things haven't been that bad. We have gone through more pets than salmon factories go through cans. We have moved more times than gypsies. We froze to death in the mountains because we couldn't afford to run the heater, and we cried when we couldn’t afford to make a cake on my birthday. We laughed as thirty insurance companies dropped our coverage in a span of two years, and all over a misunderstanding. We have traveled throughout the US and had adventures in foreign countries. On one particular incident, we found the Holy Grail—or was that Indiana Jones? Anyway, we struggled through the years I was in prison and the years that followed where I made no money. I put up with her family and all the misery they can deal out, only to discover after we got married that the only reason Sarah dated me was because I had horses! I bet that rat Juan Carlos is spending all of Brenda's money right now...
I suppose that things aren't all that bad, the other day I had a dream that Sarah and I were getting married again. The preacher says, “Is there anyone that thinks this couple should not get married?” I looked around and everyone in the building was forming a double line behind us. Now that we are in the Army and have a child on the way, I can only think back and say that I, we, owe it all to Brenda and Juan Carlos. Of course there is the story of Irma Angelica Zamorano, but we will save that for the next cookbook, The Squat and Gobble Eatin' Guide. Until then, I leave you with this word of wisdom, don't spit in the well, you might want to drink from it later!