CHEAP EATS I was serious when I said my nephew the Gun was invisible. The waiterguyperson came to our table with three menus, gave one to me and one to Cousin Lora, and then looked around confused, like what was he doing with three menus?
He turned and walked away with the third. My nephew looked at my menu with me.
Then a waitressperson came to our table and said, “Drinks?”
“Coffee,” we all said, one at a time, very clearly. That’s: one, two, three cups of coffee.
She came back with two coffees.
“Uh, one more?” said the Gun.
The waitressperson looked bewildered, like she was feeling something funny on the back of her neck.
“Three coffees. One more coffee,” I clarified. “That’s OK, Gun,” I said when she finally, mutteringly, went to get it. “We know you’re here.”
He didn’t say anything.
I was serious when I said that the Gun wanted to be an assassin when he grows up. He’ll be a good one, a natural. There’s the name, and there’s the invisibility. Fortunately, there’s also this: the fact that he will never grow up.
Growing up is not my family’s strong suit. And when I said that my intention was to “recorrupt” my nephew, well, I was serious but wrong. It became clear during our very next meal together that he was going to do something to me instead. “Unlearning,” he calls it.
I’m all for that.
For dinner: burritos! At el Tepa, because Lora likes it and because it’s just one block away from the Rite Spot where we were due afterward for an important Art Closing party. The Gun, I guessed, would fare better at taquerías and places where you order at a counter rather than relying on table service.
So he got a super quesadilla with chicken ($6.35), Lora got a super chicken mole taco ($3.73), and the chicken farmer liked the looks of the carnitas — in burrito form ($5.12).
While we were watching them make this all and answering questions about beans and salsa and such, the Gun said something very interesting to me: he said, “Which is hotter? Mild or medium salsa?”
On the surface a ridiculous question, and so I of course teased and poked him about it, because that’s how we express love in my family: by making fun of each other.
So we’re sitting down eating and talking and teasing, and everything was very delicious, of course, but especially the Gun’s thing, because it was good and grilled and meaty and cheesy. And I loved my burrito too, the pork and refrieds dancing quite wonderfully with each other. And I always ask for mild and hot salsa on mine, being a classic-model Gemini. So I’m touching it up with [TK how is this phrase supposed to be read: this, then that OR this-then-that ??? this then that] from the three tabletop salsas: green, light red, dark red. And I’m also this-then-that-ing my chips, liking the green and the light red, fearing the dark …
And the Gun goes into the light red with a chip and starts doing one of those hot hot hot dances.
So automatically I tease tease tease him, because to me that’s the mildest of the three, and boys are supposed to be tough. Especially assassins-in-training.
Well, we come to a disagreement when the Gun goes into the green and thinks it’s milder than the red. So now I’m going back and forth, rechecking my own buds, because I’m supposed to know, right? And yes, of the three, light red is mild, green is medium, dark red is hot. I’ll swear to it. I’ll stand up and fight for it, even die in defense of my point of view.
But instead, loving life (meals in particular, but also some of the other details) I choose diplomacy. “Lora,” I say, and she lifts her lovely head out of the mole. “Break the tie.” I push the mild and the medium in front of her. “Which one’s hotter?”
She tastes both and sides with the Gun.
So suddenly mild is hotter than medium, majority ruling, and the Gun’s goofy question makes all the sense in the world! Because there is no way to know the answer to this or any other dilemma, even the seemingly easy ones like 1 + 1, the meaning of life, and what kind of beans? I already knew this, of course, but I had to unlearn my way back to it. Again! Thank you, Gun. For now, I get it: ask, answer, and know that you don’t know shit.
Speaking of which … SFBG
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