By Patrick Alcatraz
McALLEN, Texas - I stopped off at my favorite local coffee shop here this Ayem and chatted-up half-the-morning with one of my newfound friends, a woman from Colorado. She kept talking about how she loved watering the plants on her property, and how it sure looked like it was going to rain, and, well, she didn't like that, 'cause there would go the watering ritual. I listened and smiled, sipping my dark roast slowly and thinking about other things that moved through my brain. It's almost September. The call of The West comes around about this time when I am away from my beloved New Mexico.
The thing is I'm not a good listener of meaningless chit-chat. My friends say I use the "interrupt" feature of my annoying social skills to move the conversations along, to take them to something I care about. Rain arriving wasn't that big of a deal for me this morning. What I said to this woman in the end was that she could always go ahead and water her plants even in the rain. She looked at me sort of sideways, as if wishing I hadn't said what I said, like she wanted to slap me upside the head and tell me to get back on her wavelength. I tend to drift a lot here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, mainly because I find excellent conversations skills are lacking in pretty much everyone I meet. The subject matter people around here select as topics of conversation is too pedestrian for me. I tend to note it quickly, and bail, which was the case at a social gathering I was invited to a few weeks back. The occasion was a fundraiser for a woman dying of cancer. I stayed maybe five minutes, after feeling as if in a coffin for the first four.
Perhaps the brain evolves into something somewhat final, a place in a life when it's damned easy to ignore, to avoid, to blow-off - a place where one decides the person, the chat, the project is simply not worth the time and attention. I have a jealous brain. It quickly and clearly tells me who needs me and who doesn't. Conversely, it always lets me know what I need and want. Such brains are rare in this part of the God-abandoned world. No, brains around here are of the Quick-To-Fuck-Up variety. Case in point: A married politician from South Padre Island, a woman at that, had a portion of her adult life splashed across the area newspapers today. The story had all to do with a messy divorce that included details of what sounded like dogged-out adultery she somewhat admitted, if admitting to date of intimacy is admission. Her alleged lover is an aging married man. Tell me, what sort of brain - a brain one would expect would know its expectations - gives the okay on something like that? But there are other examples. At the same coffee shop, I asked for a blueberry muffin to munch on while I drank my coffee. The pudgy, young clerk behind the counter instead threw a blueberry oat bar in my bag. I always get my pastry in a bag. My brain tells me that is how one should eat such things in a cheap-ass border town's coffee shop. I never did seek an explanation for the pastry foul-up. Looks of full-out stupidity piss me off even more, so why bother? But it also reminded me of an incident I'll call The Toilet Paper Caper.
That one came at a local restaurant and involved a heavyset, huge-breasted woman of about 40 who stumbled into me as I entered a men's room and she exited the adjacent women's room. The crash forced her to drop her rather large purse, and that's when the two rolls of industrial toilet paper tumbled out of the purse. I stared at her. She said, in a voice known to priests at Confessional: "Sir, I swear I got them at H.E.B." My reaction was to keep walking, to then shake my head all the while my hose directed my kidneys' contents into the stand-up urinal. What sort of brain goes out to steal a Tex-Mex cafe's toilet paper?
The Rio Grande Valley brain, with few exceptions, is pea-sized, which likely explains some of the insipid bullshit I can never quite understand...
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