I heard fireworks for several days. Kiosks at malls and supermarkets sold celebratory paraphernalia: miniature flags, gold discs with Mexican flag banners, whirligigs, dolls, pins, sombreros with red and green bands – all sorts of decorations.
It was September 15, the night of Grito Mexicano, the shout of joy and excitement reenacted throughout Mexico. The shout originated in 1810 and signaled the Mexican War of Independence from Spain.
In our city, it’s the night people gather in the main square, eat lots of food, dance, and drink tequila.
It was September 15, the night of Grito Mexicano, the shout of joy and excitement reenacted throughout Mexico.
It was early evening. Max and I sat by the pool, iced tea on the table between us. Music drifted from the neighborhood pub “Dos Hermanos” (“Two Brothers.”)
Max kept time to the music with his finger. “Kind of gets your spirit moving, doesn’t it?”
My toe tapped on the patio floor. “Want to join the party?”
Max raised an eyebrow. “The pub doesn’t rock until much later.”
“Much later I’ll be ready for bed.”
“Then let’s go!” Max said jumping up.
We found our Mexican flag pins, pinned them over our hearts and walked to Dos Hermanos. Inside, Edgar and Herman, the two brothers, dressed in black slacks and shirts, with green, white, red bows at the neck, greeted us like long lost cousins.
Edgar was tall and handsome with an abundance of shiny black hair he wore long on top and shaved around the ears. Short and not as good looking as his brother, Herman had a receding hairline and a tire around the middle, but they both had a great smiles.
A few patrons occupied tables. Waitresses with traditional braids, white peasant blouses, and flaring red skirts wove through the tables. Max and I sat at the bar.
I looked around, “Too early?” I asked.
“Never!” Edgar said. “Adelante, adelante! You will start the party!”
We sat on tall stools. Red and green plastic flags draped the mirror behind the bar. Crepe paper swags and piñatas hung from the ceiling. Instead of the usual pop music, traditional Mexican tunes played on the sound system.
As we sipped glasses of wine, Herman came out of the kitchen balancing a huge tray with “botanas” (“snacks”) free with drinks. He set down little dishes of refried beans, chunks of hot dogs in chipotle, pumpkin seed salsa, potatoes sautéed with onion, fish ceviche, popcorn, peanuts in chili powder and a large basket of fried chips.
I counted the calories – cha ching, cha ching, cha ching -oh well. We were celebrating Mexican Independence Day and, of course, I didn’t want to insult our generous hosts. I took a warm, crisp, crunchy chip, dipped it into pumpkin seed salsa and chewed. Heaven!
At the moment, Edgar had few duties behind the bar. With a devilish look in his eye, he brought out a sombrero and put it on Max. Two sizes too small, it sat on the top of his head. Max’s smile was forced and showed as much pleasure as a man with his head in the guillotine.
Edgar took a photo with his iPhone. “Perfect fit!” He giggled.
I guffawed. I couldn’t help it.
“Let’s see it on you,” Max said sticking it on my head.
Edgar whipped out his iPhone again, pointing at me.
“Make me look ten pounds thinner and five years younger,” I said.
“No hay problema,” Edgar said and clicked.
Edgar sent the photos to Max’s iPhone. Now we had a permanent record of how special we looked.
The wine must have kicked in because Max sent the photos to our good friends Sky and Lucia. I knew I’d regret that in the morning. But ……. Hey!
Suddenly, “Celito Lindo” played on the sound system.
“I know that song,” I said, starting to hum along. “Doesn’t it mean beautiful sky?”
“Yes,” Edgar said, “but it also means a good person.” He put his arm around Herman. “Like my brother and like you and Max.”
I lifted my glass in a toast and looked around. I saw smiles everywhere.
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