Shelli DeRobertis 9:19 p.m., May 22
It’s half past two in the morning at the Mission Hills Santana’s. A line of starving drunks talk loudly about their karaoke conquests at Lamplighter. Dapper locals mill around the salsa bar, texting. Sulky debutantes bitch about too much sour cream. It’s a classic Santana’s Saturday.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” comes over the jukebox. A few patrons take notice and mutter a lyric or two between mouthfuls of carne asada fries. “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Burritos fly out of the kitchen. More lyrics are mumbled. “Because I’m easy come, easy go. Little high, little low.”
Suddenly, the front door flies open. An inspired drunk stumbles in, thrusts his horchata cup skyward, and bellows: “Mama! Just killed a man! Put a gun against his head! Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead!”
Everything clicks. Rolled tacos and chicken tortas are temporarily forgotten. Hazy-eyed patrons with salsa red grins leap up on chairs, raise a poetic hand to the heavens, and sing. “Mama! Life has just begun! But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away!”
Strangers embrace. Guacamole high-fives make their rounds. A call and response chorus erupts. “Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the fandango?”
A pea-coated patron struts across the restaurant howling into a California ‘rito microphone. “Beezlebub has the devil put aside for me! For ME! FOR MEEEEEE!”
The guitar solo hits and everyone goes ape tits. The cooks let tortillas burn in order to channel epic solos through spatulas. A few can’t take it and vanish entirely in a cilantro-scented flash of spontaneous combustion.
“Nothing really matters. Anyone can see. Nothing really matters, to me.”
An insurance salesman stomps his bow-tie into the ground. A high school football star finds God. A Hells Angel sheds a single tear into his taquitos.
”Anyway the wind blows...”