Saturday, February 1, 2014

Venus backs up almost all the way to Pluto

It was like a cross between a blown kiss and a peck on the cheek.  In fact, as I was putting my car in gear to back it down from the driveway Felix knocked on the hood and crossed his arms like a big X over his chest with the look of a sweet son to a grandmother.  I had been berating them for drinking and playing the music loud.  All they wanted was some juice in their battery so they could start the truck up and get the music going again.

“You know more than me,” Felix slurred humbly after I’d retrieved the cables from the trunk and was bringing them around to the front of our two cars where the two all night drinkers were waiting.

He gave me an opening and I pounced, “Are you drunk?” 

“A little bit.”  God I can see how she would have fallen for him.  But at the moment I am thinking of Eugenia washing dishes and cooking, and leaving before the sun comes up for her job at the bakery.

“And you’re going to drive drunk?”  Yes.  Yes.  You’ll see in a minute here.

“Nooh.  We just want the music.”  That’s all.  Why would I be on their case? “She’s not brava.”  This word I need to become more acquainted with.  Brava.  They usually ask me if my dog is brava, meaning I guess, does she bite?  I’m drifting in my mind like a car taking a corner a little too fast, wearing down those tires and swinging the occupants in a powerful arc, sometimes you just gotta take those turns in a hurry.

The cables are connected and I return to the driver’s side to start the engine.  I wanted America to do this but she deferred, I guess no matter how much I try to control it people must find it very evident that I am a steam roller today.  I tell them again not to play the music loud and tell Felix he should help his wife with the chores.

“She’s sleeping!”  He said.  I am turning ‘brava’ over in my mind as I look for the words.

“Yes.  But I’ve heard her yelling at you when she’s had you up to here!”  hand up to my eyes like showing how deep the snow is in Buffalo.  He laughs, the laugh of the relieved drunk.  They’ve got their music back and Maria is not mad.  They can pick a cd and get another beer.  Soon the others will be up and come drifting up to the truck.

But wait!  Maria can’t get into her car!  The key is locked in and the car is running.  Punctilious Maria, who would not give the cables to Felix until she had turned off the engine, has locked the keys in her car while it is running.  Oh no!  Yes, the 2nd key is there on the hook in the kitchen.  How many little stumbles there have been just to get the music going! 

First America came in after a little back porch toke and wondered if I have cables Felix could borrow.   Sure, they are in the back of my car, I don’t know the word for trunk.  Here are the keys.

Then she comes back in several minutes later, asking about a different charger she’d seen me using that doesn’t need another car.  Oh, the plug in charger.  But “Why don’t they jump it off their car?”

“Because he's arguing with Eugenia.”

So I put shoes on my feet and take the plug in charger out to the fence.  “Oh.  Where are the big cables?  You plug this into the house?”

“Yes.  It takes at least two hours.”  And I realize they are picturing America describing one of those chargers that has power in ‘em, like a portable battery for giving the one in the car a quick boost.  “No.  This one doesn’t have any power in it.  You have to get the power from the house.”

Only after this series of exchanges do they push the car back in the driveway far enough for me to pull up beside it.  Meanwhile in my house I had given America my assessment of the situation.  “I don’t know how the women live with these men; with all the drinking and loud music.”  It’s 9:30 in the morning for Christ’s sake and their battery is already dead from an hour of loud music. 

“Well you must feel the same way about me,” says America.  So I have to explain the difference which she knows very well.  It is why she lives with me and not her sister.  She can’t stand living with a bunch of men who get drunk and yell and leave beer cans all over the yard and blast loud music at all hours of the day and night.  She lives with me because when she’s ready for the party to be over she sends her buddies home, shuts the door and returns to her peaceful existence.

“Look at Nati, she’s constantly cooking and cleans up after the whole bunch.  Same as Eugenia and Suzanna.  I don’t know how they put up with it.”  Nati is America’s sister.  They were both living together in a party house when I met them.  America slept on a cushion on the dining room floor with music blasting and at least 5 men, usually a whole bunch more partying in the yard.  Suzanna stayed in her room with her daughter and the television.  That’s back when I had energy to spare and loved the all night parties right down the street.  It wasn’t till I started having health problems that I began to resent people who could work all day and then party half the night. 

But that Maria is gone now, as Suzanna says, the Maria who danced out in the back yard with all the men in the neighborhood.  Christmas of 2012 I went over and asked them to turn down the music.  The windows on the house were shaking and I did it.  I did not go over for a plate of yummy food as they thought when they first saw me duck into the big tent.  No, I went right past the women and children to the dj and asked him to turn it down.  “Felix told me to turn it up,” he said.  So I had to approach the burn barrel with all the guys clutching their bud lights and coronas and get Felix.  “You have to turn it down,” I said.  “It’s too loud.”  Ooh poor Felix.  But they did turn it down and Felix was a sweet heart in the morning.

So, it has all turned out ok.  I did not want to be a good neighbor and put shoes on, so I chastised those men without mercy.  Now I sheepishly brought out the 2nd key and laughed about how the one complaining of drunk and disorderly men had locked her keys in the car.  “Are you drunk Maria?”  Felix asked?

“No,” I said.  But immediately lit up with a mischievous smile and said “No, but I had a little toke this morning!” 

“I love you Maria!  Let’s get together!”  effused Jesus.  His nickname is Chupitas after a drunk and disorderly character on one of the Mexican comedy shows. 

“I don’t go with drunks.”  Laughs from both of them.  “But I would love it if you came over sober for a visit.”  Jesus/Chupitas is the most literate of the whole bunch.  Years ago I brought out a copy of “Los de Abajo” by Mariano Azuelas and Jesus was really excited to see it and have someone to talk about books with.  I’ve tried to get him to come over in between drinking with the guys, but it just never happened.  “I will!” he slurred, “You can help me get papers.”  That’s when I closed the door and Felix knocked on the hood to send me the hug through the windshield.

Sounds like the same tune that came on when I started my car is playing.  It started out just piano but now there are more instruments.  One of the many perks of living with a teenager is the music.  My son wants to hear something good and fiddles with the dial until he gets it.  I stopped listening to KNC when I kept getting the metal show.  But a lot of times I start my car after my son has used it and get the coolest music from Shaw or KNC.  This is great piano music, the kind of stuff that makes me glad to be human. 

By the time I’ve backed my car into its spot and am making my way up my driveway, they have the music going.  It sounds so fresh in the morning air.