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Mexican Letter #4

                                                                                                9 December 2003

            Once again, the older women with the beautiful house threw one helluva party.   (The last time M—- and I threw a party, our gringo coworkers were a bit put out that the school would place us in such a nice house; we told them that the school wanted to make the oldest gringo teachers comfortable.)  This time, we celebrated Christmas.  A bit early in the season, I know, but seeing how there have been (and will continue to be up until the weekend I go home for vacation) one or two parties a weekend, last Saturday was the only date available to us. 

            I thought it would be cute to have a red/green party and made up green Christmas tree invitations, requesting that everyone wear one or both of the colors.  I also made a batch of red and green Jell-O shots to help spread some Christmas cheer and Americana.  M—- was a tad more traditional-minded.  She not only bought a seven-pointed star piñata (allegedly one point for each sin), but also requested in true posada style that everyone who entered our house sing a song while holding a white candle that she’d bought for the occasion.  I was concerned that people wouldn’t show up after learning that they had to sing to enter.  Fortunately, no one had to sing and nearly everyone we’d expected showed up.

            In addition to celebrating Christmas, we were celebrating two coworkers’ birthdays.  We were going to save the Jell-O shots until both birthday girls were present, but I couldn’t wait.  I informed (or warned) people that the lime green Jell-O had tequila and the strawberry red Jell-O had rum.  (Being a The Shining fan, I was a bit amused to discover that I’d made the red with rum.  Red rum.  “Murder” spelled backwards for those of you who haven’t seen the classic horror flick.)  Certainly no one died from my tasty Jell-O shots, but there was a mixed report over whether the shots were a bit strong or not.

            Once the shots started rolling, so did the hips.  I’d normally kept my belly dancing scarves in my classroom since I teach belly dancing after school once a week.  Yet, my girls had had a performance on Friday and I took the scarves home with me rather than walk up four flights just to put them in my classroom.  So, my laziness paid off since those scarves were an immediate party favor among the women.  One of the birthday girls, B—, even requested that I bring the scarves to her wedding reception, which will be next Saturday.

            When the second birthday girl, L—, finally arrived fresh from celebrating her birthday at Chili’s, I brought out the birthday cake that featured a question mark-shaped candle.  We sang “Happy Birthday” in both English and Spanish, ate cake and danced some more.

            Once M—- was feeling right toasty, she went out on the patio, got the piñata, and paraded around the living room with it, saying that it was time to “do the piñata”.  And boy, did we do it!  I think a piñata is usually for children and it is most certainly hung up somewhere.  Yet one gringo fool held the piñata while four gringa fools (myself included) took turns being spun around with our eyes closed, then let loose to bash the shit outta that piñata with the handle end of a broom.  We weren’t even blind folded. 

            M—- went first of course and let out a maniacal laugh as she repeatedly struck the piñata.  Someone in the crowd yelled out that she could only have three chances—yet another “rule” we’d thrown out the window. 

I grabbed the broom next.  I too laughed hysterically as I struck at the piñata like I was playing baseball except that my broom actually made contact.  There was such an unexpected joy in just beating something that I think I should keep a piñata in case of an insanity attack.

The woman who went after me apparently had more issues to work out than any  of us.  Not only did she bash the piñata a few times, but started to lunge at it like Don Quixote attacking a windmill.  I carefully approached her from behind and relieved her of the broom before she impaled the guy holding the piñata. At least her efforts weakened the piñata enough so that the last gringa to beat it, completely tore it to pieces.

I wasn’t in the mood to eat any of the candy, but instead delighted in watching the Mexican guests who, to their credit, had the good taste not to participate.  They laughed good-naturedly at our attempt to do something “traditional”.

About an hour later, something traditional did happen:  a mariachi band showed up.  These traditional musicians consisted of trumpeters, violinists, guitarists and a singer. On the weekends, once the sun starts to set, one can find various mariachi musicians just standing out on the streets downtown, waiting to be hired.  You can tell how expensive a mariachi group is just by their clothes.  The fancier the stylish cowboy costume, the more each song is going to cost.

B—’s fiancé, P—– (aka A——) walked in with his bachelor party of friends behind the mariachis, bringing a whole different, groovy energy to the party.  This time, the Mexicans took center stage as we gringos lined the perimeter.  His brother and sister, B—’s friends and the bachelor party surrounded P—– and B—.  They all belted out the songs, drowning out the mariachi singer.  

A man hires mariachis for a woman when he wants to be romantic.  Normally, he’ll hire the mariachis for about three songs at about $10/song.  These well-dressed mariachis played about seven or eight songs the first time around then walked out and returned twice to play a few more encore songs. 

The arrival of the mariachi band was surreal.  Undoubtedly, that made the night for all of us like some wonderfully warm, musical group hug toward the end of the party. 

After that party, I’m afraid to have another house party.  How does one top Jell-O shots, belly dancing, piñata-bashing, and mariachis?  I told M—- perhaps she could strip for our next party.  After all, she’d joked about being so poor that she may have to start stripping. . . anyway, I think I could do well as a pimp.  It’s always good to branch out in different directions.

Feliz Navidad,