Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vallarta vignettes

1. A sidewalk taco stand. It’s dark. Seven-thirty or so.
A girl, ten or eleven, walks up.

Girl: Tiene ceso?
Cook: Sí.
Girl: Dame uno de ceso and uno de cabeza, por favor.

And she waits, standing straight, looking ahead, holding her money against her chest in one hand. Then she goes off boldly into the future, fueled by brains and head.

2. A dog show. Early afternoon.

It’s at the library.

Adam: A dog show at the library?
Me: I guess there are, like, grounds.

I see a big sign, “Aprende a Bailar Salsa.” There are dogs everywhere, a cacophony, the announcer shouting, “Es un dahks hund. En español, una salchicha.” Then, solemnly, “Es un hembre.” Funny how you can say “female” as a masculine noun. Tallulah is applauding, running around petting dogs. Tiny dogs and dogs with oversized skulls and strange callouses.

We enter a tent containing fowl in cages. Guinea fowl with heads like knobs, a first-grader’s art project atop narrow bodies covered in feathered pointillism. Quail, pigeons, and miniature roosters. Kids are in there at eye level with them.

A woman asks me something like, Are these being judged too or are they just here?
I say something like, I have no idea.

Adam starts sneezing and Tallulah gets overexcited. Down! Down! A puppy! A puppy! she cries.

We leave and end up at Wal-Mart.

Do you have pomegranates? I ask a worker. Because they have them at the Mega this week.

Oh no, he says, shaking his head. They’re not in season.

Where did this guy come from? He needs to talk to the management about scaling back the global economy.

We board the bus and head home.

3. Near the bathroom in the yacht club is a small book exchange. Among the disintegrating paperbacks is a large leather-bound volume. The book sitting next to it is Jayne Ann Krentz’s The Family Way, or Janet Evanovich, Hard Eight, or something called Moviola, that supposedly Gore Vidal liked.

This book is The Law of Procedure, Jones’ Forms, Third Edition. It looks boring, surpassingly boring. I pick it up. The leather is soft, almost delicate. Chicago, E.B. Myers and Co., 1872, I read, lifting the cover. It’s about civil procedure in Illinois courts in the later nineteenth century, something probably no one, no student of law, no aficionado of antiquarian books, wants or needs to know anymore. It's bound in the skin of a cow brought to the Chicago stockyards from Wyoming or Nebraska, slaughtered by an immigrant with deep cuts on his hands, covered with the muck of death. Flayed maybe on a spring day when the snow was just starting to melt. It’s printed on paper made from towering pine, or fir, men pausing with their saws as the trees creak and begin to fall.

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