cumpleanos

i found myself in nogales, mexico, volunteering at a migrant aid station — and by “station” I mean “plastic tarp on the border with weak free coffee and socks.”

the encargado at the station, who lived in phoenix some twenty years before being deported, said, “it’s your birthday!? We HAVE to go out and celebrate!”

he put on his ostrich-skin cowboy boots, called his son, picked up his personal pool cue-stick case that i thought was a telescope at first, and took us to a pool hall where they served Tecate by the bucket and they kept opening a new bottle for me whenever mine was three-quarters empty or warm or stale – when really I was just trying to drink more slowly because I have really only had like three bottles of beer ever. They also kept getting walking-by mariachi groups to sing me De Colores and Las Mananitas and Gema and it was really great

But at 8pm I was kind of just wanting to get home and make a lovely dinner because I was apparently 21 going on 70, but I couldn’t pry myself away from my hosts. “It’s your birthday! You haven’t even had any tequila yet!”

So after more beers and failed exit attempts, I finally came up with the brilliant announcement of OKAY EVERYONE, I’M GOING TO HAVE A SHOT OF TEQUILA AND LEAVE.

And all of Mexico cheered.

Brilliant announcement indeed. I took a shot which I didn’t even feel because my face was NUMB from so much beer and then I stumbled through the US-Mexico port of entry and when they asked me what I had been doing in Nogales that day, I blanked first, then slurred, “humanitarian aid for deportees.”

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