5 march 1999  

the old folks at home


This morning I ran across a photograph I made last year of a couple that used to live across the street. Those two would sit out there for hours drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. They were visitors, really, the grandparents of Amy's best friend when she was six. Although the grandfather spoke some broken English, they were, for most purposes, isolated in their own language and used their son Edmond as the conduit to the prevailing culture. They moved away about a year ago and although I never had much interaction with them they fascinated me for a couple of reasons.

First, they reminded me of distant relatives in my own family. None specifically, just the generic distant relatives, the ones from the Old Country, which in my case is Mexico. Most of my foreign relatives came up to visit my grandparents who'd lived in the U.S. since before WW1. Rural folks, they'd stay in my grandparents' house and be the honored guests at a series of "meet and greets" that would introduce the foreigners to the relatives who'd "made it" in this country. I remember this one couple who were childhood friends of my grandmother. During their stay they had a few days to themselves alone in my grandmother's house while my grandparents went off to visit other relatives. When my mom and I dropped in to see how they were doing we were amazed to discover them living fairly primitively. The bacon, spoiled, had not been refrigerated (the refrigerator was an alien object) nor had they used the electricity or any gas appliances. We hope to this day that they took advantage of the indoor plumbing, and we remain firm in the belief that the sudden burst of flowers in my grandmother's garden right after that was pure coincidence.

The couple above also reminds me of myself, or more precisely, how I felt as a foreigner in Mexico during the first few times I went down there on extended stays. I remember how difficult it was to relax at first, and how simply going to the local market to buy staples meant running a gauntlet of giggling girls curious about the tall stranger who always used the wrong word for "eggs". I'm shy to begin with, so my first visits to strange places always had me coming away damp. True, I was in the jungle, but I suspect most of the humidity was self-generated.

I never knew the couple in the photo above to be damp, though. They always seemed calm to me, and dry. That they were from the desert may have had something to do with it, or maybe just relaxing in California was considerably more predictable than being at home.

And back home they went about a year ago to where life may be a bit less cushy -- Iraq's northern no-fly zone. Seriously.

Good luck to them. Man, oh man.

* * * * * * *

Dateline: My Pulmonary Cavity... Inside sources are revealing that tensions between membranes and viral entities are easing today as negotiations in the brain continue toward agreement on literary productivity. Despite rumors from the viral camp, the membranes and their organic supporters seem to be gaining ground, and reports from the lungs are indicating that full recovery can be expected sometime during the beginning of next week.

Other forces with interests in the region are offering support for the membranes but are skeptical about predictions of the outcome based on previous experience. Analysts report there has been what is termed "flexibility" in the accuracy of previous health forecasts, so most observers are taking a "wait and see" position on the matter.

Sources close to the situation are saying if progress deteriorates, or if negotiations falter, it may all simply boil down to having to close one nostril and blow, and if that strategy were to continue for any length of time the schedule for recovery would be anybody's guess.

We'll keep you posted on the Kleenex situation as it unfolds. Now this...

* * * * * * *

Y'know, despite this evidence to the contrary, I am feeling a little better.

Ooh. Donuts.

today's music:

"Jahweh And Allah Battle" -- Philip Glass/Allen Ginsberg -- HYDROGEN JUKEBOX


today's wisdom:

"I asked Tom if countries always apologized when they had done wrong, and he says: "Yes; the little ones does."