5/16/04 JUST LIKE HOME
by Allen McGill
"I'm so disappointed," the woman
whined, sipping a pink-umbrella decorated Margarita. "I came all this way
to San Miguel de Allende, to see authentic colonial Mexico, but everyone I’ve
met is either American or Canadian."
"Go to Guanajuato," I suggested. "Still colonial, but not as many
"Oh, I couldn't do that," she exclaimed. "I was told they
only speak Spanish there."
NO MORE AGEIST JOKES by Sonya Oppenheimer
Notice is hereby
served to all e-mailers: From this moment and forevermore, any message with
humor based upon aging diminishments, memory lapse, driving mishap, sexual
collapse will be immediately deleted, unread. I do not think it funny.
I do not identify. Above all, I do not know, for sure, how suggestible I
No, I'm not
stopping the clock. Believe me, I have earned every one of the pyrotechnical
displays of candles on my birthday cake. It's that, today, I have decided to
take up words and join those in combat against the negative myths of aging.
I have heard the
call and am joining the positive pioneers, those whose actions, imagination
and determination are carving out a new definition of croneing.
Or, perhaps, it's
not really a pioneering invitation into which I'm tuning. It's the Sirens
call, beckoning for remembrance of past cultures where the accumulated
wisdom of elders was cherished and respected.
From now on,
Grandma Moses and Marc Chagal are my muses. My mind is dedicated to being
filled with new projects to accomplish, new skills to master, unfinished
adventures to pursue. It is the time to quest after dreams, even impossible
Of course, I want to succeed. But that's
truly not the objective. If I joust with the cants of our ageist culture, if
I parry with expectations of deterioration, I will grow stronger for the
exercise. And, even if jokes are created by my efforts, in the process, I
will become much more interesting.
DON'T LOOK FOR WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR
by Elena Shoemaker
I live alone. I make lists. I try to be
responsible, because there is no one else to blame if things aren't right.
I know that I'm a self starter. That feels
better than calling myself an over-achiever that didn't quite know where to
go. Or begin.
There aren't too many things that scare me.
Other than finding out that I didn't put something on the MUST DO list, and
then forgot to do it or check it off, and then it comes back and ha-ha's me in
I'm good about paying cable and luz and
telephone bills on time; most people are. There's a big empty darkness that
will remind you of that, too quickly, if you have not been timely!
In shows that I've done in San Miguel, I've
often poked fun at paying electric bills. Yes, the lines are long, the
efficiency is questionable, but I've always had so much fun. It gives you more
time to look at people, go through your fantasies. If you were on an
escalator, you'd just get a glimpse. When you're in the long line, "la
cola" at the electric company, you have enough time to draft a novel.
On the occasions when the automatic teller is
working, I feel so good. There's a line there, too, believe me! But, if your
paper bill, the green one, has not been mushed in your pocket, if the currency
you are using has not been part of too many late night games, you CAN do it!
And if you want to be part of a sociological
experience, just help the people near you. We all laughed so much one day
when someone, paying a bill for her employer, finally got her turn at the
machine. She wasn't familiar with the process, didn't know which way to feed
the hungry bill-sucker, and was embarrassed that she didn't understand the
digital instructions. Haven't we all been there?
I told her to put "el guapo" face up.
Everyone there shared the joy of which faces were accepted or rejected on the
Mexican currency. See, you can turn everything into a lottery, instead of an
A few days ago I went out in search of varnish
for an exterior door. I thought it would be simple; I KNEW what I wanted.
As I pondered the colors, the stains, the
sizes, the prices, a beautiful orange kitty jumped up on the counter, purred,
and covered all the possibilities. I was delighted! AND the same kitty, I
found out, has three gorgeous babies, all six weeks old, all ready to go to
new homes. Check out Sayer Lax on Ancha de San Antonio.
I didn't come home with varnish, nor a kitten.
You know why? Because I had gone for a massage a few weeks earlier, and had
already come home with an adult cat that needed a home. That wasn't part of
the treatment, but it wouldn't have happened unless I'd been there, taking
care of business.
I knew what I was looking for, what I was going
for. Didn't I!
I'm thinking about that orange tabby kitten.
Doesn't that make sense? Of course it does!
When you're looking for something specific, it
will play hide and seek with you. It's only when you're NOT looking, when
you're perhaps distracted by the demands of day-to-day life, by your schedule,
by your "must do today" list, that the magic moments will just come
to you. Gentleness helps, as does a smile.
I've loved my moments in San Miguel, with the
thumbless locksmith, the shoe repairman who is an amputee, hearing of the
bread delivery boy on a bicycle who becomes a movie star.
I guess I can't say that I'm not looking for
things; I'm looking all the time. I test myself each day, as I walk into town,
to see something different. Notice a change. Hey, you might get tested on this
Or you just might enjoy it. Most of the
important things in your life will matter to no one but you. As you
look, something special might just be there, waiting for someone like you to
Elena Shoemaker is an observer of San Miguel
for 23 years now, and is just beginning to see and share the magic in this
medium. She's done a bit of it in song and theater over the years.
4/8/04 Is there a
T.A. chapter here in
town? submitted by
It started out innocently enough.
I began to think at parties now and then -- to loosen up. Inevitably, though,
one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.
I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it
wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was
thinking all the time.
I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but
I couldn't stop myself.
I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka.
I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it
exactly we are doing here?"
Things weren't going so great at home either.
One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my husband about the meaning of
life. He spent that night at his mother's. I soon had a reputation as a heavy
thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, "Shirley, I like you, and
it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you
don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."
This gave me a lot to think about. I came home early after my conversation with
"Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."
"I know you've been thinking," he said, "and I want a
"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."
"It is serious," he said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much
as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you
keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"
"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and he began to cry.
I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out
I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with NPR on the radio.
I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors...
They didn't open. The library was closed. To this day, I believe that a Higher
Power was looking out for me that night. As I sank to the ground, clawing at the
unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye.
"Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably
recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.
Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a T.A.
meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was
"Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking
since the last meeting.
I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home.
Life just seemed ... easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.
Soon, I will be able to vote
ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE By Sylvia Berek Rosenthal
We've done the drive from San Antonio to San Miguel so many
times, we should be able to do it with our eyes closed-almost. We've
packed up for the trip to San Miguel so many times, we should be able to do it
with no hassle whatsoever. Yet somehow, it takes longer each time to close
down the house, get our belongings together and stuff them into the car.
Then we can finally start the car and get on our way.
This time was the worst yet. We didn't get going until after ten
thirty. Oh well so we wouldn't make Saltillo, our usual
overnight stop. George even toyed with the idea of stopping in Laredo,
having a great dinner and making a very leisurely three day jaunt to San Miguel.
That was fine with me. Of course. I should have known better. That's
just George sweet talking me before he starts driving. Once he gets behind
the wheel of a car, he becomes a motor driven demon. Now don't
misunderstand me. I don't mean that he's too fast or reckless. He
just wants to keep going, going, going, just like the battery driven bunny on
Customs was a cinch. No one wanted to look in our car or trunk.
That's just as well. We certainly never bring in anything we shouldn't,
not because we are so noble. We are just too chicken to do anything like
that. It's just that we are such lazy packers, we put in little small
bundles of this and that and it would be an awful chore to unload and reload the
We came off the first big toll road between Laredo and Monterrey at about
4:30PM and I said, "We'll have to stop in Monterrey." George, of
course, said, "Nah, we can make Saltillo before dark." (
We both agree, at least verbally, that we won't drive in Mexico after dark.)
I said, "No that's too iffy." To which my beloved replied ,
"We can make it."
Variations on this exchange were repeated any times until we came close to the
Saltillo turnoff. By then, I was livid. George finally
compromised, " OK, " he said "We'll stay in
Monterrey, but only if we take the first motel on this road. I don't care
what it's like. I don't want to ride all the downtown now and have to
backtrack in the morning.". So, I agreed to stop at the first motel
we came to. After less than five minutes, voila la motel. But
it still seemed to be under construction. No matter, I went into the lobby
and asked if any rooms were complete and available. "Sure," the
young lady behind the desk answered, "Do you want to rent by the hour or
for the whole night."
Oh well, this might be an interesting night. I rented for the night.
Paid cash. They took credit cards but added a five percent fee.. The
only furniture in the room was a king sized bed and a television set.
There were lots of mirrors-no pictures-no tables-no chairs-not even water or
glasses. There was an adequate bathroom and two large good quality towels.
The lighting was very good and there were even lights over the bed bright enough
for reading. I did have a hunch they weren't quite designed as reading
lamps, however. That's truly a luxury in Mexico. We carry reading
lamps with us whenever we drive around Mexico. We heard lots of cars
coming and going. There were high heels clicking and conversations
in Spanish as unknown folk walked by our door. We thought it prudent not
to open the curtains and find out who our fellow guests were.
Since the only amenity offered was a TV, we tried it. There were about
five or six channels available. Some soaps and some sports all in Spanish.
The only English channel available was pure porno-very explicit and frankly very
boring. Nobody seemed to be having any fun. It was closer to an
anatomy lesson than a sexual experience. And it went on and on forever.
No story, not much conversation, lots of heavy breathing. The only
variations were the participation of various combinations of people. One
woman, two women, one woman and one man., one woman and two men. How come
never two men? Maybe we didn't watch long enough. My mamma taught me
, "Always try to say something nice." Well, the people in the
porno all worked very hard. Some of the faces were pretty. Some of
the bodies were attractive. It got very boring.
I didn't even learn anything. It was certainly not inspirational so we
clicked it off, used the great lighting for reading, slept soundly in the
giant bed and were on our way bright and early the next morning.
Objectives of this page:
1- humor regarding and relating to our town and its
residents may be published in this section. We ask that you exclude humor
that treads on anyone's feelings (translation: political correctness is requested).
2 - this section will contain all "humor regarding our town" that meets the criteria
described in Instructions All
stories will be published in the date order of receipt, with the latest letters
on top (the oldest nearer the bottom).