For years, I tried to read Don Quixote,
Revering the Spaniard writer in me,
Skimming a thin abridged edition,
Sophomoric in World History.
Later, greater windmills.
Exotic becomes quixotic.
The bookmark stops.
Dare you go on,
Know the ending anyway,
Some will never get their day.
Chiefs of Staff
Middle and/or Senior management
Presumptive press secretaries
Heads of security
Surrogates (sex or otherwise)
There are few places a part-time vegetarian of Hispanic origin can get Mexican-type food quickly. McDonald’s rolled out a chicken wrap in a tortilla, but that, of course, contained meat. Burger King, Wendy’s, and Arby’s? Not a single item that appeals to the brown in me. Now, Carl’s Jr I have to say is pretty clever with their sub-restaurant, the Green Burrito. I appreciate their effort to make a brand around ethnic food in a burger joint, but the words green and burrito just don’t go together. Jack in the Box has tried with their deep fried taco, which will do in a pinch, or if the Padres have a promotion where they’ll give taco coupons if and when they score a run.
What we’re left with is you, Taco Bell, and here in Southern California, Del Taco, which I will get to in a moment. And there’s, well, Chipotle, but everyone knows that’s not Mexican or fast food. You have to walk in, plus, no Mexican food restaurant on this planet serves burritos that huge in to-go bags covered in short stories written by George Saunders and Judd Apatow. They just don’t!
Granted what I’m talking about here is Mexican-style food. Food inspired by Mexico. Beans, rice, tortillas, cheese. If you want real Mexican food, you have to go to Mexico. You can get a fine taco at any number of authentic Mexican food stands in Southern California, but do you have the time? I certainly don’t. I’m on the road, calling on customers, and sadly, sometimes I only have time for a drive-thru. I don’t want to do it, but I have to when I’ve got twenty minutes in between clients.
And so where do I go? Where does a person of Hispanic—and note I said Hispanic—origin go? See, I’m not Mexican, or Columbian, and Costa Rican. I was born right here in the United States to parents whose parents were the real thing. It’s been washed out of me. Not all of it. But most of it. I still need my taco, but I need it fast, and with customer service. Hey, I’m American. Sue me. Oh, and I also try to eat vegetarian as often as possible because the conscious American in me tells me to go easy on the earth and vote with my checkbook. Wouldn’t that be funny, Taco Bell, if you took checks? You take American Express, which I find so deliciously ironic because my tab is usually less than five dollars, likely less than it costs you to process an AmEx charge.
So, anyway, I go to you Taco Bell, to get my ancestral food needs met, and I order a tostada. In my mind, it’s a perfect food. Beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, a swirl of hot sauce, all on a flat crispy bed. Two of them will usually fill me up for a few hours. But what to my sorpresa when I ordered one the other day in between appointments only to find a new creamy red sauce on it! I wasn’t pleased by this, mind you. I was taken aback. Why go and ruin a tradition, Taco Bell? Creamy Sriracha-like hot sauce? That’s Jack in the Box, ese. Come on.
Which leads me to Del Taco. I didn’t want to do it either. I’d avoided it for years being so loyal to “The Bell.” But I had to try it. It was the only thing I could find one day in San Bernardino. I rolled up, found the equivalent (craftily dubbed “The Crunchtada”), and ordered. I parked, opened the tray, and, ay dios mío, what a beauty. A thick shell, coarsely cut lettuce, generous bands of cheese, a substantial layer of refried beans, and a touch, just a touch, of red sauce. It was pretty good, I can’t lie. So good that I’ve been back more than a few times.
That’s right, Taco Bell, I think I’ve converted from the Bell to the Del. And not just because they have a better product, that’s just one of the reasons. The other reason is the name. It’s like Green Burrito. I realized Taco and Bell don’t go together. Del and Taco, however, do. It translates into “of the taco” and that is, in essence, what I’m about. I’m of the taco. I’m not the taco, as I mentioned earlier. I’m simply inspired by the taco. I’m taco-style, and, incidentally, I know where I need to go if I need the real thing.
San Diego CA
We’ve all been there: staring at a blank canvas, that perfect first line taunting you. Sometimes the entire story spills into your head. You see it all play out before you. It’s going to be marvelous.
Then the words come. And this is what you get. False starts. Doomed beginnings.
Traces of fat around his cheeks and jawbone had layered outward in the past few years, swallowing the distinct features of his once angular face. When Samantha didn’t recognize him, he said, “Hey, I’ve been hungry, okay?”
There was a huge difference between “Could you sweep out the crematorium?” and “Please sweep out the crematorium.” The former suggested Ricky might be physically unable to do so, yet that wasn’t what bothered him; he preferred to be told what to do.
Greg flung his paddle into the mosquito-infested stream. “That’s it,” he said. “I’m done with this shit.” Liza gripped her paddle until her knuckles turned white. She knew, after all these years, fundamental differences with things like religion and politics wouldn’t break them. Setting up a tent. Parallel parking. Folding laundry. Kayaking, however, would.
On January 1, 2000, I woke up in the cargo area of an SUV, hands bound behind me, duct tape over my mouth. I was still wearing all my clothes: khaki pants, white T-shirt under a green wool vest, and boots, all of which reeked of booze and spit up. The night before came back to me in flashes: waiting in lines at dive bars on Galveston Island’s strand, whiskey shots, cameras flashing, standing on the beach around a bonfire, then nothing.
And while we men with big brains might desire those women that love men with muscles and money, we tend to be satisfied with the women—those few women—that go for men with intelligence.
Baby name trend expert Nameberry* and the efficient record-keeping, lovable government office the U.S. Census* have released a rare preview of the top baby girl names for 2015.
Names based on nouns, adjectives, or poorly crafted adverbs:
Male names soon to be appropriated for baby girls:
* Nameberry and the U.S. Census did not release these names. Purely a joke.