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Last Tuesday was to be an excursion with a purpose, although I immediately began to question my own good judgement before I arrived at my first stop, and I considered the years and years of avoidance that conceived this particular expedition. Last Monday was all business at first, to cross the border and bank and complete postal errands and so on, followed up by unsuccessful attempts at locating friends in and around Centro de Tijuana, and it was generally not rewarding. At every cantina I sipped at a beer only to have the cantinera remark, in Spanish of course, that this person or that were in the other day inquiring about me. None showed up on Monday. This is what happens.

When I came home Monday evening, I found an email from Daniel that he would join my pilgrimage the next day and that we should meet up in that sacred temple called Dandy del Sur, and then came Tuesday. I rode in the back of the route cab, a van devoid of proper shock absorbers, so that anytime we traveled the least bit rapidly I found myself putting the book I was reading in my lap and continuing the book at stoplights. Meanwhile, no matter how rough the terrain, the woman next to me successfully applied make-up to her face as though she were standing in her own restroom. Some people are more talented at travel than others.

By the time I exited the cab and began my walk to the Dandy, I was cranky for no apparent reason. The sun, very warm but not hot, cast slight shadows on Calle Madero, and the breeze seemed to fan an almost electric buzz that could be felt as one wandered down the busy street. Once inside of the cantina, I found my favorite barstool and Alex, the only English speaking cantinera I currently know in Tijuana, served me an amber.

“Jody was here yesterday, he asked about you.”

“So I’m told. He’s never around when I’m here,” I said.

“And last week, what’s his name, the other one…”

“Scott,” I offered.

“Yeah, Scott. He was here asking about you,” she said.

“Figures.” I wasn’t looking for Scott because he owed me some cash; it was general curiosity. Not that I couldn’t use the money, it was that that he could use it more - and mostly that I worried about him. I didn’t want to email him, make him uncomfortable, and I figured he wouldn’t get a paycheck until October. But now I knew he was in good shape, good enough to still be around. With Jody it was always hit and miss, he could be anywhere on any given day. My proclivities, conversely, are aimed toward remaining in one place for a while.

I remained in the Dandy del Sur and drank for a while.

When one of your children leaves the nest, the impact is felt differently by each member of the remaining family. The middle girl, Sharon, decided one day that living with her boyfriend was in her best interest. Sharon is twenty-one years old, so obviously, it’s her call. She didn’t announce it. She was very afraid of what her grandparents would think about such a scandalous maneuver.

“Dad, I’m going to see Jose,” Sharon said a few weeks ago, and it was normal for her to yell this to me through my office door in the afternoon. It was only after Anna came home from school and went upstairs to change that I was informed Sharon had packed half of her belongings and taken them with her. Anna’s reaction was mixed. Of course, this meant that Anna would be getting her own room again, not having to share, but she seemed to be inwardly concerned about what scandal the sudden move of her sister might bring. After all, her sister had just moved out and then in with the boyfriend.

By the time Rocio arrived home from work, picked up and delivered here by Juan, she already knew. I was curious about their reactions. Juan, predictably, had very little to say about it. Home from getting shot at and bombed and watching people with which he served die or get injured in a country he had never before dreamt of stepping foot in, his response was vacant, without concern or contempt.

“Yeah, yeah,” was all he had to say.

Rocio yawned. “She’d better behave better there than over here or he’ll throw her out on her ass.”

I continued to prepare dinner. I knew that Rocio’s parents were coming down the hill, but I mostly never have any notion of precisely how many are coming for dinner. This is the occupational hazard, so to speak, of cooking in Mexico. People show up. Répondez s'il vous plaît? It never happens. I came out and confronted the four already present and accounted for, Juan, Juan’s very silent girlfriend Bibi, Anna, and Rocio.

“How many are coming tonight?”

All looked at each other until Juan started counting.

“Twelve,” he told me.

I arched an eyebrow at him.

“The five of us, my grandparents, and three of my friends,” he said.

“That’s ten,” I reminded him.

Rocio chimed in, “Sharon and her boyfriend are coming over. She called Juan and wanted to talk to me at ten o’clock.”

“You’ll be asleep by then,” I reminded her. “Besides, she doesn’t dictate when she talks to you now, you dictate it.”

“I had Juan tell her,” Rocio said. “She’ll be here between eight and nine.”

I reached into my pocket and pulled out forty dollars and handed it to Juan. “Tomorrow, I want you to run to the hardware store and buy a new set of front locks,” I said. Everyone looked at me, as though I needed to explain.

“If you live here, you live by my rules. That’s your passport and your visa. If you decide to declare independence and leave, then I revoke your visa. Your new visa is the telephone, you call and ask to come over like anyone else.”

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More from SDReader


David Dodd Sept. 22, 2009 @ 1:02 p.m.

Thank you, Fish, I'm flattered and delighted that you enjoyed :)


CuddleFish Sept. 22, 2009 @ 1:49 p.m.

More than enjoyed. Splendid bit of writing. Hands down, this should win the Blog contest this month, IMO.


David Dodd Sept. 22, 2009 @ 2:30 p.m.

I'm really glad you enjoyed it, and honored by your words of encouragement. Regarding the blog contest, I think the Reader simply enjoys spreading the love around. There are several people in here that write wonderfully well, and I think that the Reader enjoys rewarding contributors while keeping a special eye out for entries that are controversial, trendy, and currently fashionable.

It's always nice to win a little cash, but I'm more than happy just to have a place to write that gets some eyes from local readers. San Diego is quite unique. A few miles south and you're in a foreign country, west is the Pacific Ocean, east is the mountains (and even snow in the winter), and two hours north lies the second largest city in the U.S. The people in San Diego, perhaps by default, are as diverse and complex as are the many choices one can make when moving in any direction away.

I'm proud to live in Baja (and just as proud of the Reader for recognising Baja as a neighborhood!), but I'm equally proud to have been born in San Diego.


antigeekess Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:13 p.m.

Love it.

Fish is right. It 'should' win.

I have a theory, however, about what the Reader likes to pick as winners. I haven't checked this out thoroughly, yet, but I noted that several seem to have one little factor in common.

Apparently, it not only sells. It wins. Frequently.



David Dodd Sept. 24, 2009 @ 11:34 p.m.

Aw, AG, thanks ;)

I could write about "it", but I'd rather just say what's on my mind. It's fair testimony as to my lack of ambition (or perhaps my weird ideals concerning ethics), but at least I manage to sleep very soundly at night.

I do have lots of interesting stories, all true, and they'll come forth in time. Not many will involve "it", seeing as how I've been with one person for the last seventeen years (and if she will no longer have me then no one will!). But I promise to try and entertain.

One story involves a game of pool, played against a transvestite. I beat him/her/? with a broom handle. I mean, I used the broom handle as a pool cue. It's legendary. Honest ;)


CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:33 p.m.

Congratulations on your win, refriedgringo, I gave my opinion about it earlier. Beautiful writing. I always look forward to reading your threads, but this is one of my favorites.


David Dodd Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:01 p.m.

Thanks, Ms. Fish. My favorite part of this story was researching the Independence of Mexico. I mean, I knew the basics, I just wanted to make sure my facts were straight. But there was so much more I could have put in here! The odd alliances, formed and broken, Allende, Aldama, and Dominguez, and then Morelos, and finally Iturbide. Iturbide actually fought against Morelos, initially - in fact for many years he was with the Spanish side.

It wasn't until Spain changed their constitution to lean more to the left that Iturbide figured that his conservative causes would be lost so then he switched sides. Eventually, Iturbide was crowned as the Constitutional Emperor of Mexico, but he couldn't make either side happy (the liberals nor the conservatives), and Santa Ana (yep, THAT Santa Ana, dude who was eventually the President of Mexico on seven different occasions), forced him into exile, and he was eventually executed for treason.

I'm leaving a lot out here, but that's the general idea ;)


CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:14 p.m.

Well, to my mind it is a beautiful personal essay, and the way it weaves the National Holiday with the personal, and how it conveys your personal feelings touched me.


David Dodd Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:21 p.m.

Thanks, Ms. Fish, I reckon my mind doesn't have a choice in weaving this way, I just sort of see everything as linked in some fashion.


CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:25 p.m.

Where's Pike? Can't wait for him to get here and join the festivating!


SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:39 p.m.

Well, congratulations to you, refried! This one weaves together its themes masterfully. The three of you should celebrate, indeed :)


David Dodd Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:53 p.m.

Thanks, SD, I'm really glad you liked it, and I really wish you were more prolific with your writing, you'd probably be on this list every time. Plus, I simply enjoy reading your stuff :)


antigeekess Oct. 1, 2009 @ 9:56 p.m.

"Thanks, SD, I'm really glad you liked it, and I really wish you were more prolific with your writing, you'd probably be on this list every time. Plus, I simply enjoy reading your stuff :)"

Amen to that, dammit.

C'mon, Daniels. Crank it out.


SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 11:20 p.m.

Thanks, guys, I truly appreciate it--but today is NOT about me, it's about Fish, refried, and Pike (in that order :) I'm so proud of everyone xoxoxo !!!


FullFlavorPike Oct. 2, 2009 @ 12:05 a.m.

Word up, bro! Well done, well done indeed.


David Dodd Oct. 2, 2009 @ 1:54 a.m.

Thanks, you guys.

And Fish, it does not escape me that your salud, amor, and pesetas also applies at a Mexican wedding ;)

Thanks again, and buenas noches.


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