10.5.12

“I don’t care about your life!” he told me...

Guest Post By Anker Frankoni

A few years ago, an event in my life put me on a search for answers about my past that had been buried for generations in the dark secrets of the side of my family I barely knew. The search eventually took me to Central Mexico, where I lived in San Miguel de Allende for much of 2009. Telling my friends and family I was writing a book in San Miguel, in reality, I was soon spending far more time playing golf in the company of old men. After a couple of months, one of those old men--a 78 year-old retired Senior Editor from one of Mexico City’s oldest daily newspapers--finally called me out one Tuesday afternoon over drinks in the clubhouse after I’d played 18 holes with him, and two other members also old enough to be my grandfathers.

“Young man,” he began, “Finally this mystery is too much for me! Here you are, how old? Not even forty? You show up here, unknown to us all, with your tattooed knuckles and the oh-so-sporty hats, and come back day in and day out, calmly losing your money to us viejos, and pretending you can’t break a hundred on the course! If you are never going to finally start sharking us, just what the hell are you doing here in Mexico?!”

Nonchalantly sliding my Goorin Bros. cap off the table and out of sight into my lap, I scooted my chair in to get closer to him and start the elevator-pitch I’d practiced so often on the folks back home: “Well Señor Alvarado,” I replied across the table, "I’m actually here in Mexico working on a book. It’s a tale of two lives, sepa--”

¡Coño!” He burst out, shutting down the beginning of my shpeal with a few quick snorts of scoffing laughter. “Anker my friend, you are working on a book no more than I am, or Carrasco, or Fat Pancho there, or anybody else enjoying this fine afternoon in our bar. No -- you are playing golf, and drinking, and if you look at the sign-in log at the entrance, this seems to be what you have been ‘working’ at for more weeks than the fingers of my hands can now count.”

“But excuse me,” he continued, “I must be assuming that you, like the rest of us here, are at home sleeping for eight hours in the night. But these are the eight hours in which you write every day, yes?” Leaning back to see if I were going to bite that hook, Alvarado took a long sip of his Scotch and Soda, and then continued: “So this book you are working on, Anker.... What is it concerning?”

Keen to redirect the conversation back to the comfort-zone of my oft-repeated pitch, while Señor Alvarado took another sip from his highball, I smoothly peeled off a dozen words of my script before receiving his next wet-washcloth slap to the face of my pride: “Essentially Sir, 'Mexican Eskimo' is a story about my life, and theories of reincar--”

“Your life?” He nearly choked on his whisky in his haste to cut me off again: “Your life? What do I care about your life? Who are you? A famous actor? Political figure? Sports hero? No... No Anker: I do not care about your life.”

Draining the last two sips from his drink while shooting a quick glance at the clock above the bar, Alvarado stood up, announced that his driver had arrived, and carefully positioned his prized Montecristi Panama hat upon his head, while my angry, clenched fists hid under the table, twisting into a ruined rag the shamed hipster lid I’d thought made me look so refined on the course that morning. With a final tweak to the brim of his Montecristi, Señor Alvarado walked around to my side of the table, lay his hand on my shoulder, then leaned down to look me directly in the eyes. “But Anker," he said, "I have been watching you: I see that you are perceptive. I see the patience that you exercise in this daft experiment we undertake to put the small ball in the small hole that is too far away for logic, and this strange habit you have developed of spending your days here at Club Malanquín in the company of old age, tells me clearly that you are some kind of mold-breaker.” After pausing for a moment to let that sink in, he continued: “But when you are ready to get serious, and really begin the actual work of writing this story of yours, remember that nobody here (and he stood to indicate every man gathered in the bar) cares to increase our understanding of your life! We, and everyone else on this planet, are all striving to better understand our own. Write a book that helps me do that, and I will personally be very happy to read this 'Mexican Eskimo' of yours.” Señor Alvarado thumped me fondly on the back, and as he exited the bar, called back over his shoulder: “But get to it my friend; some of us here can’t wait much longer!”

... So did I do it? Did I put my glass down, swear off weekday golf and drinking until I too properly earned my own valid retirement, and get serious about writing something to convey some new understanding about life to a person as worldly and educated as my friend Señor Alvarado? I’m sorry to say that I did not. Not, at least, in time for him. Perhaps with your help, I can still honor his spirit, and redeem a little of the faith that an honest and forthright friend once placed in me down in Mexico

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Part joker, part thief, part joyful, part grief. Anker Frankoni’s new book ‘Mexican Eskimo’ is a tale of two lives, separated by the one he’s currently occupying. Find out more at MexicanEskimo.com or to follow Anker’s occasional threads of 3:00 AM Haiku, and other sporadic letter-cobbled strips of electronically encapsulated musings, join him at Follow.us

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