Saturday, November 27, 2004

The One Man Mariachi Band

We sought out some quality comida Mexicana tonight. A good rule of thumb somehow seems to lie in looking for places where the bulk of the capital doesn’t go into the decor or paint because often it’s an indicator that it’s going into the food.
The place, Los Amigos had bright peach painted walls and bright lights shining down from the ceiling. Some college friends, Neal and Jeff were coming to meet up with me and my Mom. Once they arrived we walked down into the back room, where an older gentleman and two of his children/grandchildren? were eating. He was dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans with a kind smile on his face.

We sat down to order began to talk and munch on corn chips dipped into hot salsa in between breaths. As we surveyed the menus to make our choices, we heard a thud from behind our table. The kindly older man had put a big speaker on a table in the corner. His jeans and t-shirt had been replaced by the full, silver studded uniform of a mariachi man, complete with wide-brimmed sombrero. Music started playing and I think at first we were of the same opinion that a little mood music would be nice and help paint broader strokes on the Mexican experience we were enjoying.

But then he started singing. Wow, did he sing. Somehow his ears were divorced from his vocal chords because what transpired was utter cacophony. The sweet older mariachi man was tone deaf.

Now when I get nervous, one of my most ridiculous responses is to laugh and at that moment, the sheer volume of the situation was getting the better of me. I knew if I didn’t take action, my funny bone would. So I excused myself. When I returned from the bathroom, the pitch had not changed nor had his passion with which he exercised his vocal abilities. At one point I looked over at Neal and he appeared to be choking on his napkin, while Jeff looked like he was coughing internally with a big smile on his face. My Mom was the luckiest one since her back faced this nice man and she had full reign to express her emotions as she saw fit. There was one moment when all of us were absolutely silent and stifled by the silenced laughing escaping out of us.

My Mom had told him she was from Monterrey, so he sang songs familiar to that region and would dedicate them after he would sing, to the lovely people who came all the way up from Monterrey, Mexico. After each song, he would also thank us for our support and listening to his beautiful songs. We were the only people in the entire restaurant.
We endured another 20-30 minutes of loud off-pitch melodies and with me trying to distract from the singing by yelling across the table about the virtues of comic books and the vices of New Orleans.

When he started singing "Cielito Lindo" I thought about my grandmother Tita and knew he couldn’t butcher this song that had been her favorite. So to keep me from laughing I started singing at full pitch at our table the chorus until he invited me to sing with him. The cook came out of the kitchen and watched us. Shortly thereafter we began to pay the check and he invited us to come back some other Saturday. Jeff invited him to church. We all left full of mirth and merrymaking.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sandra said...

Annelies! This story is hilarious. And I miss your mom -- send her my love the next time you talk to her, would you?

9:14 AM  
Blogger katy said...

WOW!! I would have given my left kidney to be at that dinner! how much fun and funnyness! I have the best mental image in my head of the whole thing transpiring...great great great!!!!!

6:35 PM  

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