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Monday, September 26, 2011


            Sometimes I think I would like to be a mom. Like really like to be one. On the train, babies propped on Mama’s shoulder often gaze back at me, and a fuzzy feeling melts inside me that can only be described as Awww. Yesterday, I saw a woman in Walgreens slap her kid’s head as she told him to “shut his ass up,” and I realized I’d probably be a much better mother than a few that are out there. But motherhood is not my reality—not right now. Not only do I not have the means (or to be quite frank, the sperm), but I will admit the one thing that us women are not encouraged to say, be it the truth or not: I am selfish. I love my life. This life now, the one I’ve created for myself…
            I love waking up in the morning, sunlight spilling on my face, with the option to go back to sleep if I like, or to get up and spontaneously plan out my day; maybe take a yoga class, or get a mani/pedi, or pick up some fruit from the farmer’s market. I never have to arrange for babysitter, or leave the house with a ten-pound diaper bag—just my ten-pound purse. Also, I’m a bit of a helpless romantic. I love date nights with the ruca, and discussing the profound nuances of everyday life that usually have nothing to do with Sponge Bob Square Pants. When we go out to eat, the first words out of the host’s mouth are not: “Kid’s menu with crayons?” And I’ve yet to experience sitting down to have our waiter crinkle their nose at the sight of a high chair in their section, as if our kid were a skunk.
Most importantly, the reason I am not ready for kids is because I am convinced that I am going to “make it” as a writer in this decade, my 30s. My teens were a rebellious mess filled with “dime” sacks and 40s; my 20s were about getting to know and like myself, lots of traveling, and getting dragged off the barstool after last-call. This era is going to be the decade that my books will be published and my dream of establishing myself as a writer will unravel like a magic carpet setting off to fly. Ideally, I don’t want “making it” to mean I can afford rent without having to bartend for a few weeks. Screw that. I want a shot of snagging that huge house on Russian Hill, rooms with a view, and extra rooms for Mom, Pop, and the in-laws. A separate work studio in the city sounds perfect, with prospects of setting up a writer’s workshop for young kids of color down the line. Sure, it may sound like a long shot, but I’m stubborn as hell and know exactly what I want. I also know I need to work really hard to get there—I need to have that time to myself to work really hard. It wouldn’t be fair to bring in another life knowing that they are not the focus of my most driven desire at that moment. On career day, I want to go to my kid’s school, proud of myself, and say: “My name is Mrs. Jiménez and I am a writer,” instead of “I am an aspiring writer, but for now I’m just a bartender. You kids know what a martini is?”
Aside from waiting for my career to blossom and loving my carefree independence, I confess yet another reason for not having kids: I am terrified. Does anyone else feel me here?! Raising children is a HUGE responsibility! There’s the usual stuff to worry about, like will I be too strict a parent, or not strict enough? What if my kid hates broccoli and fish and bananas and pretty much every single meal I prepare for them? What if little Juanito get his ass kicked at school everyday for having two moms, neither of whom taught him how to play football—or worst, what if Juanito is the school bully? But there are also the even bigger things in life: what if I don’t agree with their lifestyles? My children—whether adopted, or from my womb, or the ruca’s—will obviously be a blueprint of me, but children are not statues that parents are free to sculpt as they wish. While parents may be a child’s most influential impact, we all come wired with our own souls, our unique spirits. Still, how accepting a parent will I be if my kid grows up and decides they don’t want to be a radical revolutionary like Mommy wants, but are content enough to simply pass their life away a stoned-ass couch potato whose only motivation is slanging weed? (And no, Mommy won’t be thrilled about that discount on “dime” sacks!) Or even worst than that, what if they decide to become (gasp) a Republican?! Dear God! What a terrifying leap of faith parenthood seems to be!
If I could, I’d put motherhood off for another decade until I’m 40. But evolution seems a little sexist, and so far has not kept up with a woman’s career. If I don’t start cookin’ that bun in the oven by the time I’m 36, my eggs will probably go extinct. Or be as rare a species as the panda or the great blue whale. I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there. Because sitting here now, drinking my coffee spiked with Kahlua and wondering how to spend the rest of my day off, adoption in ten years is suddenly sounding like a no-brainer.
Whenever that time comes, and my house of cards is fully built, and the ruca and I have established a cozy nest for the esquincles to call home, maybe then motherhood will call to me with more than just a knock on my door. And I will answer that need, that desire. I will someday be so important to someone else that they will need me for nurture, acceptance, and unconditional love. I will be ready to take on that key role for the rest of my life. For now I have myself to take care of, and a fledgling dream of becoming something bigger than myself. I have my little nest, a cozy one bedroom in Bernal, the ruca to come home to, and a 20-lb cuddly cat who I am not afraid to say I adore. Until the day our mini family grows, and blossoms into bigger branches of life that extend from us, I will be more than happy with this amazing life I have now. 
© Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rick's on the Wharf: Sofia

This is an excerpt from my 2nd novel I am co-writing with a friend. The novel is a collection of perspectives from all the different positions in a restaurant. This particular chapter is written from the perspective of Sofia, a manager of the restaurant Rick’s on the Wharf. Enjoy!

As Luke dimmed the lights of the dining room, Sofia straightened up taller and poofed out her hair. This sent a subtle wave of perfume that graced the air around her—although too bad the intoxicating whiff was wasted on the lousy hostess, Gwyn. The dimming of lights from lunch to dinner was the cue that this night, Friday, had officially begun. Friday nights (along with Saturdays) were the nights that any magic—good or bad—was bound to happen. And Sofia would be damned if she wouldn’t be dressed for it in her sexiest animal print.
“Sofia, we got a 10-top at 8. Who should it go to?” asked Gwyn.
            Sofia scanned the line-up of reservations for the night. “What do we know about them?”           
Gwyn clicked on the side notes of Open Table. “Some financial investors…it says they just won something and are looking to celebrate.”
            Sofia envisioned the 10-top of businessmen at the end of their work-week looking to celebrate: martinis and calamari for the first course, steak and bottles of wine for dinner, and expensive scotch for dessert. “Hmm. Businessmen, potentially young and attractive…Give ‘em to Lola.”
“Isn’t that slightly bias, Sofia?”
            “No,” she snapped. “Listen, honey, this is a tough business. If you want to be a good host, then you gotta learn how to work the door.”
“Look, Sofia, I’m not here for life. I’m only here because my parents said they’d pay for my schooling and rent if I work at least three days a week for my own spending money. Someday when I finish school and get a real job, I’ll look back at this and laugh.”
            “Honey, I hope someday you do get a ‘real job’ where you sit behind a desk because you couldn’t make it in this industry. You have zero communication skills and the work ethic of a lazy ten year old who just wants to play video games. I’m sure you’re great at the books, sweetheart, but this industry’s reserved for hustlers who know the art of charm.”
            The insult should not have hurt Gwyn, who considered herself far too above the job to work menial pay anyhow, but it did. Sofia was just always so blunt. She’d tried pointing this out to her once, but all Sofia had said was, “Sugar, if you can’t handle the truth, you know where the door is.”
The truth was that if Gwyn were Sofia’s protégé (or if Sofia even liked Gwyn as a person), then she would’ve gladly taught Gwyn some tricks of the trade. First and above all else, the person running the door had to learn their servers’ capabilities. Take Josie for example. Josie was jubilant, wholesome, and was so excited to be a server trainer at Rick’s that she would greet her table with pom-poms if she could. A family of five in San Francisco for the first time would love to have Josie wait on them. In fact there’s nothing she’d love more than to up-sell pink lemonades to kids in “rockin’ ” animal shaped cups. Then there was Elton. Sure, he was 6’5, a complete goof and more than a bit eccentric, but the gentle giant was harmless; he worked his shifts and was content as long as he wasn’t buried. He was even so fascinated by the Europeans that he would actually do okay with them, mostly by saying outlandish shit like, “So is it true that French consider eating snails a delicacy? Cuz if so, then I would’ve been considered, like, a total king of my childhood. Oui oui.”  Then there was Ingrid, the vegan yogini hippy. She did best with low-maintenance locals who’d gotten stuck on the Wharf for some reason or other. As long as no one asked her which steak she recommended, she usually did all right.
            Sofia knew all her servers better than they even knew themselves. Upon first impressions, she knew immediately who her guests would be best paired with—with the same knowledgeable complexity as she would know how to pair a certain steak with wine. But still, she had to mismatch her guests and servers often. Otherwise, Elton would start complaining that he only got sat with foreigners, and Daniel would start bitching that Lola only got hot young businessmen that he wanted. Besides that, tables would not be properly rotated and server counts would be off. In order to prevent a full-out bitch-fest, Sofia had to take all the rules and throw them out the window throughout the night, which was usually when things would get messy. Elton sucked at taking big parties if he wasn’t teaming with his buddy Jack, Ingrid had no idea how to sell steak and wine to the plush guests in section 5, and Daniel became bitchy with too many old ladies in his section—“hens,” he called ‘em—who slowed down his service with hot tea and lattes. Things would run in a controlled sense of chaos—controlled, of course, because Sofia was responsible for it. But even though she deemed them necessary, those “mismatches” were always foreseen train-wrecks without the servers ever really knowing why.
Sofia knew that running the door was one of the most overlooked, yet tactical positions in the restaurant—why couldn’t Gwyn see the authority she had as a hostess? She had the power to give a couple the tiniest table on 27—the crappy deuce that sometimes the restroom door would hit on the way out. Or she had the power to make their experience by seating them on table 15; the circular elevated booth adorned in velvet in section 5, that was best reserved for guests who wanted to show off their expensive bottle of wine they’d be more inclined to order. Location, so true in the real estate world as a dining experience, was everything. That power to make or break that experience was entirely up to the host. And yet, here this key person Sofia was supposed to have running the door was nothing more than a spoiled trust-fund kid.
            Luke joined them just then at the host stand. “Hey, there Gwyn, how you, uh, doin’ today?” he asked, fiddling with his tie. Fidgeting was such a helpless habit with alcoholics.
            Gwyn scowled. “I’ve had a headache all day.”
            “Aww,” he cooed.
            “Drink some coffee,” Sofia smacked, unsympathetically.
            “Well if you wanna go home early, you can,” Luke shrugged.
            Gwyn lit up. “Really? Oh, that’d be great I have so much homework to do and—”
            “Excuse me!” Sofia cut in. “Honey, you can’t go anywhere. It’s Friday night, I need you here.”
            “But Luke just said—”
            “Luke says a lot of dumb things, but hear me out, you’re staying!”
            “Geez, Sofia,” Luke muttered, rocking back and forth on his toes. “I was just trying to—”
            “Well don’t,” she interrupted. “Running the house is my business and—”
            Two ladies walked up to the host desk just then. On cue, all of them straightened up and smiled their best fake smiles. Well, all of them, except Gwyn.
            “Two!” the old ladies barked.
            “Take ‘em to 37,” Sofia ordered Gwyn. It was Daniel’s section. He didn’t do well with old ladies and they would’ve been better suited with someone kind like Josie, but Sofia didn’t like their attitude and Daniel had been late.
            “Enjoy your dinner, ladies,” she smiled at them.
            “Ladies, enjoy,” Luke chimed in, even though they ignored both managers.
            Sofia dropped her smile as Luke skittered away and Gwyn took them to their table. Once she returned, Sofia made her rounds. Her heels tapped away across the floor, a slight echo stirring up behind her. She was pleased to see that as she turned the corners of the dining room, her employees were keeping busy. She was no idiot though. She knew more than half of them looked busy when they heard her coming, which was okay by her too. Besides, she already knew who her real work-horses were.
Saul was shining silverware, Dulce was lighting candles, Jack and Elton chatted about last night as they folded napkins, and Ramon was texting.
            “Ramon, get off that phone and go help Saul shine silverware,” she snapped. “Daniel, you just got sat.”
“I know,” he grunted, tying his apron with exaggerated irritation. “I seen ‘em dinosaurs stomping in.”
            She turned the last corner, finding Luke adjusting employees’ in-times from the morning. “Goddamnit, Luke. If you know competence isn’t your forte, why don’t you let people who are more capable handle the responsibility?” she blasted.
“What?” Luke exasperated, looking confused. It must’ve been too many big words in one sentence.
“Sweetie,” she softened her attack. “Let me handle the door and you handle your…whatever it is you do here.”
He looked sheepish. “Is this about Gwyn?”
“Don’t you think if the girl was deathly sick I would send her home?”
“Look, I’m sorry, okay? I just…I can’t do anything right today.”
Sofia felt sorry for many people in her lifetime, but never for drunks. It was such a selfish disease. But still, being the nephew of the owner, Luke had more job security than even she herself probably had. And like it or not, she had to learn how to deal with him.
“C’mon, Luke. We’ve got a ton of reservations tonight. But seriously, next time we’re hiring a host, let me do the interviewing okay?”
Not waiting for an answer, she turned the corner, her long zebra faux fur coat waving dramatically behind her as she clapped her hands at everyone sitting and goofing off in the empty back booths.
“C’mon, guys, it’s 5:00!  Who are our 5 o’clockers? Get on the floor, detail your section and put those napkins away. Jack, spray some Goddamn cologne on, you smell like cigarettes! Elizabeth, what section are you in?”
“Three,” she rolled her eyes, not pleased.
“Well get in your section three! Come on, let’s go! Hurry up!” She stopped Lola as she was walking away. “Sugar, what’s wrong?”
Lola looked surprised, even though she always wore her emotions clearly. “Nothiiiing.”
“Honey, spit it out.”
She sang like a canary. “It’s Günter. He’s such a jerk to me sometimes. I come in here, I do my job, I do a good job—”
“Honey, I’m gonna stop you right there. Günter was right in telling you that you need to be here at least ten minutes before your shift so you can be ready to go on the floor at the time you’re scheduled—not walk in strolling with a spring in your step two minutes after four, not even changed. If you want Günter to respect your hard work, then show him you can be professional.”
Lola nodded. “Okay.”
“Now come on. You’re one of my best employees. I’m giving you a 10-top of businessmen all looking for steak. I know you can handle it, right?”
Lola lit up. “Oh yes, of course I can!”
“And what’s the rest?”
“Wine, wine, wine,” Lola boasted, all-too-cheerfully repeating Sofia’s motto. “And I don’t mean the bitching.”
“That’s my girl. And where’s your lipstick or your lip-gloss, or whatever?”
            “Why, do I need it?”
“You just look a little pale, probably from before our talk. Go to the ladies’ room, freshen up and look your best. You’re my prettiest waitress here, and I want you looking sharp.”
“O-kay! I’m on my way now,” she chirped. She hurried to the restroom, the bounce back in her step.
Sofia applauded herself. She never felt bad that she’d never had children; she had an entire restaurant full of waiters instead. She made her way back to the host desk where Luke was sneaking peeks down Gwyn’s button-down blouse. Now how the hell am I gonna get rid of that host?

©Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Cat that Never Left

A scene...
She sat at the door of the vintage shop, her coat a shiny slick of black with slits of gleaming amber eyes. Blinking dully up at us, she did not scurry away from our peddling feet, nor flinch, rather seemed to permit our entrance into her domain.
Inside, amidst treasures and trinkets of many eras past, I momentarily forgot the feline as my fingers tapped away on an old typewriter. I watched as each key jumped its symbol to the center, then back, like fists pounding on screaming chests.
Upstairs in a low-ceilinged attic, a silhouette of a man gazed down at me, pausing his work from the typewriter he was fixing. His face was blocked by a blast of sunshine pouring in from the windows behind him. The brilliant rays lit up the dark wood interior of the shop, and even the floor we walked on that sighed its gentle creaks. 
             “How much is this?” my ruca asked the salesman. She was in awe over a 1968 Life Magazine of Martin Luther King Jr.—it was the week he’d been assassinated.   
“Price should be on the back,” the guy answered, fiddling with some records.  “But I think it’s twenty.”
The ruca hooked pleading eyes with me. Twenty bucks seemed a reasonable mark-up from the 35 cents it had sold for back in ’68.
In the middle of the shop were two large phone booths, the kind you’d only see now in old black and white movies with lovers trapped inside them. I was admiring them when suddenly, the air exploded with a burst of melody; a man had started playing the piano. There were no petals at the bottom of the instrument, but he tapped his feet grandly on the floor anyway, keeping beat to his tune. I tapped along myself, feeling like I should be in an old Western saloon, with feisty cowboys drinking whiskey and cleavage busting broads swinging from chandeliers. I watched the pianist, fascinated that the sheets of random scribbles and symbols, like pensive cursive, held the secret to the harmonious sounds that painted the air. I let the music fill me up. A tip in the cup and a helpless jig of my feet and I was back to the front of the store, where the ruca was still running her fingers across the soft creases of the magazine. 
The cat was gone.
“Do you want it?” she asked, though obviously wanting it herself. 
“Sure,” I nodded, understanding her tie with the King himself; her Capricorn birthday always falls the same week as the notorious leader. Plus, when you’re not born in the most incredible decade of the Civil Rights Movement, such rare tokens are priceless.
We paid for the magazine when the music stopped, and that was when the cat came out again. Her gentle stroll revealed an astute, regal air of pride. Although her body was petite, a tiny paunch on her belly dragged slightly, almost sweeping the floor that the pads of her paws stepped soundlessly upon. I guessed her age to be about a decade old—I’d been around enough cats all my life to know.
“What’s her name?” I asked, nodding towards the door. A black whip of a tail pointed back at us.
“Sasha,” said the man, placing the magazine delicately in a paper bag.
“Does she ever run away?”
A smile spread his lips open, his knowing eyes filled with stories.  “Every now and then, she thinks about it. She’ll stretch her paws across the line of the door and you can see her debating, contemplating.  It’s like she’s thinking ‘oh freedom! Oh sweet, terrible freedom!’ And then…she changes her mind, comes back inside.”
I could picture her now: contemplating a nomadic life amongst a sea of traffic-filled hipsters in skinny jeans and Converse on Valencia Street, hunting rats out by the dumpsters and fighting feral cats for a warm place to sleep. But here, in her very own castle of polished rustic gems, she is probably fed kibble and canned tuna everyday with fresh changed water, and gets an affectionate pet when in need of cariño. But still—to know the unknown!  To journey out onto ventures far beyond the confines of the shop! What escapades she could live—what adventures she’d dare find!
We looked over at her. At her shiny black coat with her ears slightly flat, knowing she was the subject of our conversation. Her tail swooshed softly at attention.
“Wow,” I exhaled, not realizing I’d been holding my breath, or why.
With the iconic King wrapped carefully in the paper bag, we exited the shop, clicking our tongues and cooing our goodbyes at the majestic black creature who sat statuesque at the entrance. Out on Valencia Street, we walked upon the concrete of our own freedom—sweet, terrible freedom—as Sasha gazed silently back at us.

 © Sarah C. Jiménez 2011, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bruja Magic

Flashback to Pride, the last weekend of June 2011…
Cousin Edna was blasting Mexican music (and probably freaking out the gabachos upstairs), because that’s what my down-ass cousin Edna does when she’s in town: She fills the house with her bubbling fire of energy, philosophizes about love, life, people and family, and renews her and the ruca’s soul with music they grew up to. It was Pride weekend, San Francisco’s biggest holiday of the year, the house was alive with family and a non-stop ringing phone, and even I was singing along in my best Spanglish to Rocio Durcal as I began reflecting about all of my past Prides over the years. I’ve spent a couple too intoxicated to say my name, a couple as an awesome Samaritan assisting disabled elder dykes in wheelchairs, and several sitting next to Edna in the front row as we watched the ruca perform as MC on stage. Then, it hit me.
“Babe, what’re we doing for the march this year?”
“Well…” the ruca started, in that tone that said she already had conspired some type of plan. Never one for subtleties, she was painting her eyelids a bright tropical turquoise with gold eyeliner, and feathers in her hair to match her pink and red flowered dress. (It’s too bad she’s so hell-bent on saving the world, she’d have made such a great performer.) “I was thinking after we’re done with the rally at the park, we could sit at Delfina, eat some really good pizza, and watch the march pass us by.”
“Delfina?!” I blasted. Delfina is like the crème de la crème of gourmet pizza in the city; a must do at the top of every foodie’s list. But (and there had to be a ‘but’) it was also right in the heart of where the march was going to be passing through. “There’s probably 30,000 people in the city right now. Do you know how many other people probably have that same idea?”
The ruca looked at me, a glare of scorn. “You’re such a pessimist, you know that?”
“I prefer the term being realistic.”
“Realistic?! Ha! That’s funny, coming from someone who lives in the clouds.”
I handed her the eye-shadow brush she was looking for, sticking my tongue out at her.
“Your pessimism aside,” she continued, “Would you want to watch the march from there if we had the chance?”
“Or course!” I piped. It was true that the ruca had a genius idea about watching the parade while dining at one of the best spots in town, but those kinds of miracles only happen to holy people who walk on water. “I just don’t wanna get my hopes up for something that seems nearly impossible.”
“You watch,” she said. “I’ll find a way to make it happen.”
“What’s going on?” Cousin Edna asked, walking into the room.
“We’re just talking about what to do after the rally,” I filled her in. “Your cousin wants to eat at this spot where the parade is going through and watch it passing by.”
“Oh,” she said, rubbing the ruca’s coconut lotion on her arms. “Will that place be hard to get into?”

We arrived at Delfina’s before going to the park to scope out the scene for later. I was stuffing a salchicha wrapped in tocino in my mouth while the ruca did the talking: “No reservations? Show up and sign our name in? How long a wait?”
I shook my head, grilled cebollas dangling out of my mouth like monster tongues. Even with all the odds seemingly against us, the ruca was determined. I didn’t want to tell her that I’d already resolved on watching the show from the sidelines, and getting trampled by thousands of rainbow flags rippling through the masses.
We crossed the street to the park where we could hear blasts of taiko drums thundering through the air. The park burst at its seams with all kinds of people: butchy dykes in leather vests, glittery-eyed femmes, androgynous lezzies, tutus and chains, pink and purple mohawks, bouncing boobs in every letter and number size imaginable, and taut cherubic-esque booties hanging out—and, of course, the ever sweet incense of skunk, sweating its fumes throughout the park.
Picking a spot close to the stage, we laid out a blanket where we met up with friends and made new ones as scores of scenes played out in front of us. Marga Gomez, the notorious comedian, was working the crowd, saying that there was a new 2-floor lesbian club opening right in the heart of Castro. Our attention piqued, we all eyed her onstage as she hit us with her punch-line: “It’s called TRADER JOE’S!”
We walked along the top of the park, alongside the Muni tracks where some of the more hardcore dykes were soaking up as much booze as they could, concealed under the denseness of shade. Women everywhere and all around us kissed in their own celebrated sanctuary, captured in the exhilarating aura of open love. How cool it was that so many lesbians from all over the world made a pilgrimage to San Francisco for this one special day, and here we just drove right up the street for it!
The afternoon passed leisurely. After our friend Wanda sang onstage, our clique of four—Cousin Edna, our homegirl Viva, the ruca and me—began to pack up. It was early, and we had about an hour to go before everyone in the park filed out for the march that would take over the streets. We headed back to Delfina where we put our name on a wait-list that was longer than Santa’s “Naughty List.”
 I sighed, getting my butt comfy on the curb where I’d probably be sitting for the next few hours.
Names got called out for the restaurant, though I did not get my hopes up. My stomach began to churn, that salchicha I had macked down earlier no longer filling me up. I was getting hungry, thirsty, and had to pee. And I was really ready for a drink, having held out all afternoon. Tables came in and tables got bussed, people wined and dined and watched the crowd. I wanted to be one of them so badly: wanted to be the one on the inside looking out, watching the thousand wonders uncoil before my eyes over courses of food and glasses full of wine. I realized suddenly that I really have grown up. All I was looking for was a mellow way to party, and celebrate my own personal pride with the intimate family of people I’ve created for myself. I consider Cousin Edna just as much my cousin as I do the ruca’s, and I’m just as attached to Viva and her partner as I am to morning coffee and my daily writings. The realization of my own personal blooming evolution left me deep in thought. I was proud that I no longer felt the need to be ‘that wasted chick’—like the one in the street who was puking next to me. Sagacious and reflective, everything felt at peace. Well, everything but my growling stomach, and my parched dry mouth, and the lingering stench of vomit, I guess.
All at once, a thunder of engines ripped through the crowd and clusters of dykes on bikes zoomed down the street, their shiny machines dazzling all the more with hot chicks clasping onto them from behind. High passing fives were slapped as they strolled down the limbo line, followed by the roller derby girls, their swiftness an almost oblivious blur that zipped down the street. The rest of the on-foot parade would be catching up shortly, but for now an antsy anticipation spread through the fans of people like a wild itch. The calm before the storm only seemed to promise a grander finale.
I was beginning to get poked and pushed and shoved, with an uneasy feeling of claustrophobia coming over me, when all of a sudden, in a majestic and surreal wave of brilliance, the host called out, “Sarah for 4!”
I looked at my gente, my peeps, as I giddied incredulously at the ruca. “Sarah, like me?”
“Yes!” she squealed, pushing me forward. The server was already standing over our table—by the window! It was the best spot in the house: a front-row view of the march sashaying by us with the interior warmth of the oven just steps from the kitchen. Baked herbs of basil and toasted parmesan were emanating from the ovens and tickling my taste buds. We could hardly believe our royal flush of luck as we settled in, the ruca with a knowing look in her eye, proud of her bruja magic.
Wine was poured and poured some more, and the food was nothing less than incredible: a classic Margherita, mushroom pizza with truffles, sides of collard greens drenched in seasonings, and fresh sprigs of oregano served on the side to garnish. The service was super attentive and genuine. While engaged in conversation, we watched as the entire march passed us by; flags swirling, signs held up, screaming frenzies of fanatics, and tiny tots wearing tops that said I love my two Moms.
Between glugs of wine, I felt a little ashamed at myself for not having any faith in my ruca’s manifestation at being able to make things happen. I have to remember that when you want something so badly, the universe can aspire to make it happen for you: whether it’s front row seats to the biggest show in the city, or getting my books published. (The latter I have to remember not to lose hope in, and to continue manifesting my talents going golden!) As I dipped my cherries in a creamy dish of mascarpone for dessert, I could feel the ruca tap me underneath the table. I already knew what she was going to say. And beating her to the punch, I said it for her. “Yes, my love. You did tell me so.”

© Sarah C. Jiménez 2011, All Rights Reserved