This could have been any day here in Baja, really, but it wasn’t. It was on a Friday night. My grandson was coming over, all 27 pounds of him. He’s the only beast that still scares the crap out of the new puppy. Dog terrorizes everyone else, but not Az. Az is fearless. His parents were off to attend a Posada that evening, last Friday. So, I took my nasty cigarette habit outside for a change, I smoked out back. When I opened the back door, I realized instantly that my neighbor Ted had discovered a new hobby. Cannabis. Ganja. Weed. Skunk. Take your pick.

It brought back some memories, I smoked enough of that stuff in high school to make both Cheech and Chong blush.

Entirely fearless of the possible contact high, I instead sucked a bucket full of nicotine out of a cigarette that I had busted the filter off of, and came back inside. This time of year, it’s colder inside than out. I bundled up. My daughter Anna, entertaining Az, met my line of sight and I had to ask her. “So, you know Ted got a new hobby, right?”

“Funny you bring that up,” she said. “The other day I went out there to do a load of laundry and I thought something was on fire. I checked the boiler and nothing was wrong.”

(A boiler is a water-heater here in Mexico. Seems appropriate to me.)

“Then I realized what was going on,” she continued.

* *

I often get a big chuckle when conservatives in the United States of America go on and on about Mexico. I grew up in a very conservative environment. Sometimes those people just rail against Mexico, about how socialist and corrupt it is here. Actually, I think that humans have more freedom here than up there. With that comes a huge responsibility, however. Maybe that’s what they are really trying to get at.

Basically, in Mexico, you are free to do what you wish so long as you don’t hurt someone else in the process. Having a party? You can crank your tunes all night, just know that your neighbors can do the same when it’s your turn to work the graveyard shift. Call the cops on the neighbors’ loud music and the cops will laugh at you. Then they will hang up. This is what happens.

Mostly, everyone here acts responsibly. Sure, some join cartels or gangs that support them, and others rob and steal and otherwise do not contribute in a positive manner to humanity, but most folks here are awesome people. Your neighbors are going to have a big party once in a while and crank up the volume. But then, so will you. I think that part of the responsibility of the equation is that you have the capacity to look away, even if you’re pissed off and tired as hell, because you’ll likely do that to them someday even if you don’t mean to. Seems to be a fair exchange when it comes to annoying one another.

So, Ted gets a new bong and wants to break it in. Good for Ted. I envisioned Ted buying a big bag of Cheetos and playing Playstation for the next seven hours. I really did. My second cigarette brought me even closer to my youth, I was remembering mornings behind the old Tic-Toc Market up in Los Angeles. It made first-period algebra almost bearable. Good times, good times.

* *

My wife looked at me, right after that third cigarette. She has me dialed in. I couldn’t kill a cockroach without her reading that all over my face. “What happened,” she said.

“Ted’s beating the hell out of his wife.”

No hotline. Oh, she’s alive. She’s fine. There is some sort of dynamic in that relationship and others like them I’ll never understand, no matter what I read about it. Ted’s English is perfectly full of curse. So is hers. It was incredibly loud. My wife looked away after I told her.

“There’s no remedy for this sort of thing, is there,” I asked.


And so, obviously, one would think that Ted’s new bong would somehow sooth his propensity for that sort of violence. Apparently not. I guess that was the biggest surprise. Not so much that his wife sits there and takes it. As I say, that’s a dynamic I simply don’t understand. And so, as goes the loud music, goes the loud whatever. That freedom-fruit tastes mighty fine, but the pit is bitter.

And there isn’t a damned thing I can do about it.

More like this:


bohemianopus Dec. 20, 2011 @ 8:01 a.m.

Great story, as always. Can't wait for your book to be published!


David Dodd Dec. 20, 2011 @ 8:12 a.m.

Oh hun, the publishing world is so on its head at the moment. I promise, when I launch a novel, you'll be the FIRST to know after I do. Hope we live long enough to see it :)


Ruth Newell Dec. 20, 2011 @ 9:05 a.m.


Nan passed along a story of yours (something about the type of jobs writers often take in hopes that they won't have the life/writing sucked out of them) to me when I first joined the Reader Blog and you've been a favorite of mine ever since. Nan described you as a Master and you truly are. I'm in line waiting on that novel right behind wonderful Bohemianopus!


David Dodd Dec. 20, 2011 @ 5:55 p.m.

Hey, Roody, thanks for the encouragement, it is truly appreciated here.


nan shartel Dec. 20, 2011 @ 11:21 p.m.


yep i did tell miss roody that...another masterpiece of rambling observation Refried

Merry Christmas to u and fam homey!!

oh a posada!!!

i haven't seen one in years...

i'm making enchiladas 4 Christmas u will 2!!!


David Dodd Dec. 21, 2011 @ 12:43 a.m.

Christmas Eve in my house is scratch-made clam chowder, Nan. I reckon I'll take some to Ted and his wife, if their mouths are busy then maybe they won't fight so much. Merry Christmas to you and yours, I hope your Holidays are filled with awesome :)


nan shartel Dec. 21, 2011 @ 10:35 p.m.

good idea...from scratch eh....the "Feast of the Seven Fishes" folks would approve of that ;-D)


David Dodd Dec. 26, 2011 @ 5:25 a.m.

Ah, Caldo de Siete Mares, or Seven Seas Soup. It's a very classic dish here, Nan. One would expect that the key ingredient is fish and seafood, and while those items are in it, the most essential ingredient is dried guajillo chilies, grilled or oven-baked in order to burn the skin slightly and release that wonderful flavor. I have made it several times, I especially enjoy it in the summer time. Next time I make it, I'll document it, so everyone can try it at their leisure.


JohnERangel Dec. 26, 2011 @ 6:30 a.m.

Hi RG, I would like to thank you for telling people what life here in Tijuana is really like. Both good and bad. My family and I once had a Ted situation next door to us. So I know what is in your heart during those moments. Keep up the great work RG.


David Dodd Dec. 26, 2011 @ 6:44 a.m.

Hey John, you too. Merry Christmas, my friend. I hope yours is swell.


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