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BEING EARNEST KEROUAC
I sit on a stool by the road. The young girls smile and talk with the young boys. The young girls are beautiful and their hair is black. Their dress is of many colors. I sit with my beer in front of me. It is good beer. It is cold. I walk across the street, sit down at the bar. "Uno mas cerveza, por favor."
The road out of Guadalajara winds through mad Mexico past goats sheep and cow shepards past stucco ruined walls and empty church holes buried deep lost stretches wild placed tar ribbons floating breezed through Medias de los Lagos take a right at big mesa into Leon through to Irapuato and Silea and Queretaro, blue sky rolling pin risen flatlands rising green space trees curving this land this life long lost imprinted forgotten, the music loud wild Dave Matthews Jimmy Buffett words imprinted long forgotten past rag riches and dirt stone, piecing together puzzle pie skyward countryside - my driven Mexico.
I learn new words. New words are good. Manteca is butter; baraso is trash. The trash here is good trash. It is very colorful and finds itself along most roads. I walk to dinner. It is a good dinner. It is a colorful, good dinner, with many plates. The jalapenos are very green and find themselves in my tacos. When I am finished I motion to my waiter and air scribble: "La quinta, por favor." At my hotel I sit alone on a wrought iron chair in the courtyard. There is a fountain, and walls of stone. There is a sprawling tree I do not recognize. I summon a waitress: "Deseo una cerveza Corona, por favor, y in diaz minutos, uno mas." My waitress nods, and goes. When she returns ten minutes later with my other beer, she makes small talk.
"Usted esta Italiano?" she asks.
The mestizo face drops. The black hair silences. The good woman walks away.
He sits close and leans toward me. He is the Big Boss, el Jefe Grande here in San Juan del Rio. Stares into my eyes as he speaks. He tells a story. It is a good story. "I'll tell you the biggest thing I ever learned," he Kentucky drawls. "I didn't get along with my daddy. He was a Mormon minister, and when I was a kid I wanted to play football, and he wanted me to minister somewhere halfway around the world. I said no, and we just didn't get along. I left home. And for years and years this caused a breach, and we didn't speak. Well, years later, I'm getting to middle age and I think, now's the time. I fly my daddy over to Poland, and pick him up. I tell him it's time we get to know each other again; we're both getting older. I tell him now daddy, there's friends of mine that drink, and I drink, too. I don't drink to excess, but I drink. I want you to know that. And then he asks me. 'Are you goin' to church?' Uh-huh. I go to church daddy. 'And what church would that be?' he asks, and I'm thinkin', here we go. Just won't let it go. Here we go! I says, the Baptist church, daddy. And he don't say nuthin'. Here I am waitin' for it to fly, and he don't say nuthin'. In the past this would have made him furious. I can't take it. 'Daddy, why don't you say something?' And he says, 'You know what I've learned, son? That's there's bad in the Mormon Church, if you look for it. And there's a lot of good there, too, if you look for it. There's bad in the Baptist church, but there's good in it too, if you're looking for it. I know you're looking for the good, son.'"
Vast smile dark faces whirling colorful women glasses of cerveza hoisted and a crying policia next to me; he tries to buy a dance but is so ugly and drunk the women won't accept, I hear the wild churning marimba music the dancing women the smiles of beer amidst lost gone Mexico ringing small cavern the eyes beautiful eyes sullen eyes eyes that connect eyes that reject eyes on the gringo buying cerveza at the bar tapping foot and a song sung where all close their eyes and sway, singing along words unknown unknowable and it is good; yes, it is very, very good.
I think of jalapeno bean tacos; I think of bean tacos. It is Mexico. It is good Mexico. There is bad in Mexico, if you look for it. And there's a lot of good there, too, if you look for it. I'm looking for the good. But ask not for whom the jalapeno bean taco tolls: it tolls for YOU.