It’s cold. Brutally cold. A front has just passed through and the temps have plunged into the high 50s. But with the wind chill it feels like the mid-50s. Dangerous to be outside at all.
Luckily, I rummage around in the car and find an extra Mo sweatshirt. it fits perfectly except that it’s eight sizes too small. But it’s warm. Did I mention i’m cold? I pull up the hood and yank on my flannel shirt over it. Kind of an “Eddie Vedder in his Ukulele Phase” look.
Mo laughs hysterically, which is odd because I didn’t say anything funny. She looks away, regains composure, then glances at me again. And laughs some more.
“Dude,” she says. “You took totally gay.”
After a long pause she adds, “in a good way.”
With this confidence boost, we head off for the Dia de los Muertos festival across the street from work. It’s my day off, which means I only have to work half a day.
For those not familiar, Dia de los Muertos is the Day of the Dead, commemorating the untimely demise of Grateful Dead stalwart Jerry Garcia. Or something. My Spanish is not that bueno.
It’s an amazing spectacle here. Living in a largely Hispanic city, the locals take it seriously. Faces painted white everywhere, and more skeletons than the first corral in a major marathon.
I’m not sure about the experience. We’re not participants; just onlookers. It feels like a family affair, and we’re not relatives.
After wandering forever, Mo finally screws up the courage to take pictures of some of the folks. Mo is just sooo dang shy.
She desperately wants a photo of the pink-haired roller derby zombie girl, but pink-haired roller derby zombie girls can be rather aloof, so we settle for bystanders.
We are smitten by a display of piñatas in a bar that’s too dark to allow decent photos. They are intricate and spectacular and I can’t imagine knocking the bejeebiesout them with a stick.
Mo, on the other hand, is having fantasies about knocking the bejeebies out of something else with a stick. There’s a large Hell’s Angel wearing a rubber clown face standing outside the biker bar. At least I think it was a rubber clown face. Mo constantly repeats “did i ever mention I don’t like clowns?” while hiding behind me. Like I’m going to protect her if a crazy Hell’s Angels Clown comes at us. Oh, I mean, yes of course I will. Yes, dear.
As the temperature threatens to drop below the freezing mark (50 IS the freezing mark, no?) we leave with our bounty — a skull wearing a jaunty hat for my fanny pack, a bottle cap refrigerator magnet featuring a skull with a Texas star, and a tiny drawing of Batman. I’m not sure what that was about. Mo and the artist got along great and she gave him a dollar. A Dia de los Muertos thing, I suppose.
Mariachis in masks. Tiny dancers doing tiny dances. An altar on which to leave gifts for the departed. A celebration not invented by Hallmark cards or a tequila company. Just a time for honoring those who are dead. And celebrating with those who are not.
For a guy in a too-small girl’s sweatshirt still coming to grips with the new land he’s found himself in, it’s a day to remember.
In a good way.