Old man and the grief

I arrived at this city six months ago. And from that moment I became instantly enamored, the way a ninth grader in a teen movie falls in love: fast, intense and riddled with insecurity.

To continue with this ill-constructed analogy, the city plays the part of the popular high schooler, slightly older, more experienced, surrounded by adoring worshippers who fight over lighting her medicinal cannabis. Obviously I play the new kid, dressed for the wrong decade, using unintelligible slang in a heavy accent and still wreaking of humidity.

And so begins our unlikely courtship. I attempt to resist her charms by clinging on to an old receipt from La Carreta, but it’s useless. The more I try to suppress my feelings for her, the more she showers me with explosive sunrises, ridiculous vantage points, breathtaking beaches, delicious food, incredible events and those impossibly tall palm trees scraping gorgeous blue skies.

As the plot goes, we eventually declare our love for each other, but before she can turn me into a vampire or trick me into eating poisonous berries, we get side-tracked by a villainous group, one I had never encountered before: Old Angry White Men.

In Miami, Caucasian males between the ages of 55 and 70 were exiled to the next county, but here in Los Angeles, they are the only ones that can afford mortgages, so they get to stay…and be very angry about it.

It’s a talent to be that pissed off all the time. I don’t know who else could turn every mundane moment into a shit storm of apprehension, rudeness, aggression and stupidity. They are brash and acerbic in everything they do – especially when conforming to social norms or waiting for their turn.

I recall a pensioner at Porto’s that pummeled his way to the bakery counter and instructed those around exactly where to stand. Then, at the Hollywood Bowl, another senior citizen lost his mind when music lovers were not in a single file line. And most recently, two elders who got into a verbal altercation at the Van Nuys Animal Clinic when one of them didn’t have their dog on a leash. Things turned scary when one of them threw a yellow caution-when-wet sign in the direction of the other old-timer, which happened to fly ever so precariously over my head.

What is wrong with these viejo verdes?

I have a few theories. First, I believe their anger has  everything to do with the census. As I’ve mentioned before, the only thing this dumb survey accomplishes is to scare white men by projecting that they will be in the minority, eventually being forced to eat beans and rice and learn Spanish. Second, they might’ve spent their youth jamming out to (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, but it seems to me that they feel the blade of the sickle on their necks, consequently shitting through their pants and on everyone around them. And lastly, after more than half-a-century of conforming to norms, working at bland jobs, trying their very best to control their ingrained instinct to sexually harass and racially profile, they realized that no one gives a fuck about them. No one is revering their efforts. No one finds them interesting or exotic. No one, from their off-spring to strangers on the street, has said thank you for existing.

As a result, they are running rampant throughout Los Angeles county and destroying my ridiculous and far-fetched love story. It’s as if Old Man and the Sea is playing out in the middle of Pretty in Pink, it’s not a good look and an awful mash-up. So, in an effort to curb some of this cockblockage, I’ve written an ode to old white guys of the greater Los Angeles area:

Hey white mature man, you are special. Your silvery-dandruffy-thining hair is very attractive and the lines on your face tell the riveting story of your legendary athleticism in high school or your ability to work at the same job for thirty years. Your crisp khaki shorts tell me that you are in charge of your life and can easily maintain your Costco membership status, two things that are impressive to everyone you come in contact with. The shade of your skin is alluring, like an unscented bar of soap from a Days Inn. And no one, absolutely no one, is going to round you up and send you away, or shoot you without consequence, or pay you less than what you deserve, or deny you admittance or housing. None of those horrible things will happen to you.

However, if you are looking for purpose, perhaps a legacy to leave behind before the reaper finds you, use your anger to fight for those that do have those horrible things happen to them. I bet more people would like having you around if you did.

Now, please, leave me and Molly Ringwald alone.

oldmanandthesea
Advice from a dead white guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hometown hero

Sure, I’ve been to places. I’ve traveled by car and plane and ship and train. I’ve experienced new cultures, tasted their food and danced to their music. But, even after visiting the most amazing cities in the world, I return to my birth place with an indescribable feeling of joy and yearning, which I keep to myself.

You see, I don’t want her to know how much I love her, for she will start taking me for granted. Even when returning from a long trip and she envelopes me in a suffocating bear hug of humidity and sun, I don’t let her see me smile. Instead, I bend at the waist and pretend to have a heat stroke. And when I drive over the causeway that lets me see her expansive flatness, I look away in the hopes that she will feel insecure and regret not having implants…or hills.

There are only three cities in the world that, if the circumstances were right, would cause me to pack pictures of the downtown skyline and a year supply of the locally produced merenguitos and mariquitas that Publix displays on those metal trees by the check-out line. Just three.

But, really, who am I kidding? I could never leave her…at least not permanently.

It’s more than nostalgia. It is more than the proximity to the island nation that I’ve never stepped foot on, but I claim as my true nationality. It is more than the rampant corruption and the sports teams that cause more stress than distraction. It is certainly more than the traffic and the drivers that use a “blue toof.”

It’s my home. It’s where my skin doesn’t fall off. It’s where I get sand in my shoes, instead of yellow snow. It’s where, if I don’t like the weather, I can just cross the street. It’s where hurricanes, the real kind, bring us together. It’s where police officers make more money than news anchors and celebrities come to get photographed accidentally.

During one of my recent departures from my beloved metropolis, I made my normal mad dash to a dining establishment in the airport. I always order the same thing: a small espresso with milk and a guava pastry. It’s a ritual I take very seriously do to the fact that (a.) no place has these items readily available at a piping hot temperature and (b.) if something, God forbid, were to happen to me, at least I had my absolute favorite snack in the world. 4P1A0407

As I took a bite out of my flaky piece of heaven, it hit me like the first time I walked through a famous Las Vegas hotel and wept when I realized that finally, someone had thought of my wants and needs. It hit me that Miami is exactly like a pastelito de guayaba from La Carreta.

It is pretty from the outside of a glass casing. It sparks curiosity, “will it be good?”  “Is it hot?” “But how hot?” Only, once they toss it in a white paper bag, it loses a bit of its allure. And then when you stick your hand in the bag and get it full of stickiness, you realize this endeavor is more complicated than you thought. It’s not until you stick the thing in your mouth and let the flavors swirl around – and let half of it fall on your shirt that you fully understand that, although painfully awkward and inconvenient, that was the best shit you’ve ever had in your life.

Bienvenido a Miami.

(Originally posted July 11, 2010)

My am ee

Sure, I’ve been to places. I’ve traveled by car and plane and ship and train. I’ve experienced new cultures, tasted their food and danced to their music. But, even after visiting the most amazing cities in the world, I return to my birth place with an indescribable feeling of joy and yearning, which I keep to myself.

You see, I don’t want her to know how much I love her, for she will start taking me for granted. Even when returning from a long trip and she envelopes me in a suffocating bear hug of humidity and sun, I don’t let her see me smile. Instead, I bend at the waist and pretend to have a heat stroke. And when I drive over the causeway that lets me see her expansive flatness, I look away in the hopes that she will feel insecure and regret not having implants…or hills.

There are only three cities in the world that, if the circumstances were right, would cause me to pack pictures of the downtown skyline and a year supply of the locally produced merenguitos and mariquitas that Publix displays on those metal trees by the check-out line. Just three.

But, really, who am I kidding? I could never leave her. At least not permanently.

It’s more than nostalgia. It is more than the proximity to the island nation that I’ve never stepped foot on, but I claim as my true nationality. It is more than the rampant corruption and the sports teams that cause more stress than distraction. It is certainly more than the traffic and the drivers that use a “blue toof.”

It’s my home. It’s where my skin doesn’t fall off. It’s where I get sand in my shoes, instead of yellow snow. It’s where, if I don’t like the weather, I can just cross the street. It’s where hurricanes, the real kind, bring us together. It’s where police officers make more money than news anchors and celebrities come to get photographed accidentally.

During one of my recent departures from my beloved metropolis, I made my normal mad dash to a dining establishment in the airport. I always order the same thing: a small espresso with milk and a guava pastry. It’s a ritual I take very seriously do to the fact that (a.) no place has these items readily available at a piping hot temperature and (b.) if something, God forbid, were to happen to me, at least I had my absolute favorite snack in the world. 

As I took a bite out of my flaky piece of heaven, it hit me like the first time I walked through a famous Las Vegas hotel and wept when I realized that finally, someone had thought of my wants and needs. It hit me that Miami is exactly like a pastelito de guayaba from La Carreta.

It is pretty from the outside of a glass casing. It sparks curiosity, “will it be good?”  “Is it hot?” “But how hot?” Only, once they toss it in a white paper bag, it loses a bit of its allure. And then when you stick your hand in the bag and get it full of stickiness, you realize this endeavor is more complicated than you thought. It’s not until you stick the thing in your mouth and let the flavors swirl around – and let half of it fall on your shirt that you fully understand that, although painfully awkward and inconvenient, that was the best shit you’ve ever had in your life.

Bienvenido a Miami.

MiamiDowntownLife.com
My pastelito de guayaba.