Friday night, baby!! I was getting out of work and into a cab to meet my peeps at the Wild Side West, an old saloon-themed dive in Bernal that’s usually filled with cute lesbians guzzling down booze and playing pool. It was a crappy night at my bar. I made $50 less than I’d wanted, and was still irked over some English dude who stiffed me twice, then had the Euro balls to ask me where the nearest strip joint was. Whatever. It was Gay Pride weekend, cousin Edna was in town, and the celebration was kickin’ off tonight with drinks, chisme, tacos later at the taco window, and all the unknown theatrics that can happen in-between.
All of a sudden, sitting in the back of a Luxor cab, that song came on. Not just any song—that song:
“1,2,3, uh! My baby don’t mess around because she loves me so and this I know for shooo. But does she really wanna but can’t stand to see me walk out the doooor.”
It was OutKast, the Hey Ya! song that came out back in ‘03. I wiggled like a kid under my seatbelt in the backseat, pleading with the cabbie. “I love this song—turn it up!” The driver, a young blonde who was zooming around as if the cab were his Porsche, glanced at me from the rearview mirror. He shrugged, figured why not, and kindly bumped the shit outta the song in the janky cab stereo, static and all.
“Don’t try to fight the feeling cuz the thought alone is killing me right nooow. Thank god for mom and dad for sticking two together cuz we don’t know hooow. Heeeeey yaa! Hey ya!”
Como se dice ‘time warp?!’ I was a young pup again, fresh to Frisco and back in the days when I first lived with my sister in a cute-ass spot on Capp and 24th. In the cab, I was watching the lights down Mission Street pass me by: past the old theaters that look like sandcastles you dribble at the beach, past The Beauty Bar and Doc’s Clock with inebriated hipsters and Priders spilling out of ‘em, past the waves of rainbow flags that had color-coated the entire city. But the song had swallowed me back in time, and I was back on Capp Street, blasting my stereo and dancing with my ex-novio: a fine-ass Chilango from DF. I was still in the girl-crushing phase in that era, had never even set eyes on the ruca, and didn’t think that someday I could actually be (gasp!) a gay.
“Hey ya! Don’t want to meet your daddy! Just want you in my Caddie!”
The chimes of the xylophone! Andre’s sexy croon! The harmonious beats burst and bubbled up inside me. I sang along to myself in the backseat, not shy in front of the cabbie cuz I’d already had two shots to chase down my beer before I’d left work. I remembered the first night I’d met my ex. Everyone at the restaurant was excited, giggling over the quiet new cook who worked the grill. The straight girls were flushed—“Ohmygod, I think he smiled at me!”—and even the gay boys were bouncing around extra cute, suddenly helping the expos run all their food. The ex was tall, surprisingly thin for a guy, with a smooth wave in his hair and creamy skin that should’ve been more tainted from all the liquor and substance absorbed late night after hours.
“Hey ya! Don’t want to meet your momma. Just want to make you cum-a!”
When he chose me out of the entire staff of girls (and boys) who were flinging themselves at him like kids under a bust-up piñata, I felt as if I’d been crowned Prom Queen. I’ve always been beautiful, but I hadn’t grown into my true beauty yet; hadn’t learned to twist my essence from the inside out to truly make it shine. Back then, I was still measuring beauty by how great I looked standing hand-in-hand with a guy who looked like he’d missed his calling as a Calvin Klein underwear model.
“Heeeeey yaa!...Now what’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold!”
The break-up would’ve gone smoother if there hadn’t been lying and cheating, and lying about the cheating. I hadn’t been heart-broken in so long that the torture was almost foreign to me: waking up in tears with my pillow still soggy from them from the night before; revisiting all of our old stomping grounds: “Ohmygod, he kissed me right there in front of the liquor store once!” “Waaaa! He told me ‘I love you’ for the first time at that bus stop!” What a mess. It took me months to bounce back to my perky self, and even longer not to growl at every Gemini I met. (Grrr…those two-faced sons of—)
“Now I wanna see ya’ll on your baddest behavior! Lend me some suga, I am your neighbor! Shake it, shake it…Shake it like a Polaroid picture!”
I hadn’t thought about the ex in forever, hadn’t had a need to. Time had cured my long ago broken heart until there was no longer a single flutter at the mention of his name. But right then, riding backseat with a cabbie who floored the yellow on Cesar Chavez as if Armageddon was one stop-light behind us, I realized one thing: I wasn’t nostalgic for the ex, nor was I heartbroken. I was actually sincerely and genuinely happy about it. If I hadn’t gotten my heart stomped on like some old recycled soda cans, I would’ve never met the ruca… Would’ve never kissed her that day on the 4th of July six years ago, and thought to myself “this is the one.” Would’ve never had the chance to fall asleep spooning her soft hips every night, and wake up in those early ambiguous hours of morning only to reconnect again. Everything from my past has led me to where I am now: here. Con ella, la ruca.
“Heeeeey yaa! Hey ya!”
The cabbie turned left on Cortland and passed the coffee shop where we stumble out of bed and go to sometimes, then past the Stray Dog Bar, and finally pulled over to the side as the song faded out to the last Hey Ya!.
I over-tipped homeboy, handing him a five like I was a balla when a standard three bucks would’ve sufficed.
“Thanks, man,” I waved.
“Thanks, man,” I waved.
“You take care,” he nodded.
I passed the smokers out front, still talking about the Giants game, and pushed open the door. Behind the pool table and behind the wall of the fireplace—where glitzy antique high-heeled shoes are nailed into it—was the crowd of my friends: drinks being raised in cheers and their first few rounds already toasting up inside them, all of them fuzzy and helplessly elated. “Sarah!” “Sara!” “Sarita!” they all called out to me.
I wanted to run but forced a cool strut over to them, where I distributed hugs and besos and saved a big smooch on the lips for the ruca for last.
“Ready to celebrate Pride weekend?” she asked, once I’d ordered my round.
“Hey ya!” I grinned, the silly, loving goof I am.
© Sarah C. Jimenez 2011, All Rights Reserved