Jessica once again slept well past noon. I didn’t mind, though, because I had endless crap to do for my classes. This was the first summer I remained a full time student while traveling, which was honestly one of the more foolish ideas that I have ever made. I enjoyed the classes, don’t get me wrong, they were actually about things that I’m truly passionate about, the acquisition of language. For my final project, I had to write a fifteen page paper about some aspect of the English language. I decided to blend my love of language with my passion for ancient Egypt and developed a thesis about the remnants of ancient Egyptian in our modern language. You can read the final paper HERE. I am very proud of it.
And though the end result is marvelous, writing the paper nearly killed me. Not that it was particularly challenging. I was having a great time researching the trail of the word ebony through the eons. I had an absolutely fascinating journey through Coptic and Greek and Latin and French and finally into English. And fun though it was, I was really more interested in Mexico City spreading out around me. And then I got distracted by my kitten friends.
Little Chiffon came over for treats, and she was so wonderfully sweet. She hopped in my lap like it was last year and made herself comfortable as she coiled up. After a while she wanted to explore the apartment and she found Jessica absolutely fascinating. I couldn’t blame her, she did present an interesting spectacle, sprawled out on the couch, snoring so loudly that it was occasionally unsettling. Little Chiffon jumped on the couch and then jumped onto Jessica and then did her best to apparently wake my sister up. Jessica didn’t move or acknowledge Little Chiffon, who was not at all amused by this lack of attention. She decided she had better things to do than waste her time being ignored, so she headed out the door.
I followed her, Kindle in hand, to sit for a little spell in the shade and continue reading Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. I had attempted to read it last year next to the pool at my cousin’s place in California. I liked it, but for some reason I never finished. I think that I failed to connect to it because I didn’t really know a thing really about Mexico then, so the descriptions and details didn’t rouse any privately held memories in my mind. The same thing is true with my absolutely favorite series of books, the Amelia Peabody collection of mysteries revolving around archaeological expeditions in Egypt and the occasional English caper. I devoured them happily years ago, but they were absolutely different for me after traveling to Egypt. Now I could really imagine the tombs, touts, pyramids, the dining room of the Winter Palace, the kindly people, and the exhilaration of arriving in Egypt myself. Now when I read them, I’m there. I found the same to be true with Under the Volcano.
The book is dark and certainly not to the taste of every reader, even though it is apparently a classic. Mark Twain said it best when he said about classic literature, “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” I feel that spiritually. Have you ever tried to muddle through Dickens? That’s tolerable at least. War & Peace nearly ended my life. So tedious. So dull. So boring. I don’t need to read chapter upon chapter about a man finding satisfaction scything grass in a Russian meadow. Now, obviously, if this had been about cutting hay in Romania, I would have been absolutely riveted to my book. So I suppose I’m a hypocrite.
Under the Volcano was not an easy book to get into, the structure of it is fairly bizarre and the further you get into the stronger the plot pushes forward and lapses backward become. At points it’s hard to tell if the story is occurring in the past or the present, but that adds to the delirium that flows through the book, and it makes the main character’s dependence on alcohol all the more vivid. I’ll be talking about the book a lot more in upcoming posts, so we won’t dwell too much more on this now.
A kitten walked by the open front door when I stepped in for a refill of coffee, and stopped to peer inside, then dashed away when I let out a gasp of delight. For whatever reason, this finally roused Jessica from her death-like slumber and we hurried outside to follow the kitten. We had seen it before on the second day and immediately christened it Taquito. There was another one that we decided would be named Frijoles. We were bound and determined to love them to pieces, so we darted into the courtyard. To our embarrassment and delight, we looked like lunatics to the neighbor three doors down, the owner of the kittens and the other cats we loved so much. Bitch Cat didn’t belong to her, she lived with the gigantic rabbit. Just trying to help you keep up in the feline family trees of 2 Echeveste…
Anyway, the woman and I spoke in really awful Spanish about how wonderful cats are and how much we love cats and how much the three of us worshipped every kitten on the face of the planet. The lady surely found us peculiar, but as I have discussed in the past, the love of cats is a universal language. She knew how precious all of those fluffy felines were, and so she held out Taquito for me to hold. I died! Taquito was pissed about it, but he didn’t fight my cuddles or Jessica’s when I finally let her have her turn. It was a special moment.
Now that she was conscious, we started to plan what was left of the day, and decided that we would quite like to see another movie. She wouldn’t agree, but Jessica has abysmal taste in films. I frequently tell her of all the movies that we need to see, but she inevitably says something like, “Gross ugh no.” She refuses to see White Boy Rick, and now I don’t even think it’s playing anymore. When we were in Mexico, I kept telling her on how much we needed to go see Oceans 8. She had less than no interest. She thought it was a serious drama, though why she should have thought this, I have no idea. She lives in her own world. Finally, I convinced her to at least watch the trailer for the film, and this took more prompting than should have ever been necessary. She literally goes to every film that comes to Perry; I cannot understand her unwillingness to see the films I want to.
She consented after she realized it was basically a comedy starring Sarah Paulson and Rihanna. We have a very special bond with that slippery Sarah Paulson, and I have rehashed the story on this blog enough that you probably know it word for word. If not, here’s the Sparknotes version: Jessica and I were eating dinner outside at a French cafe in Los Angeles when a woman escorting an older woman walked by. I looked at her and recognized her, but it didn’t dawn on me until later that it was Sarah Paulson. She came by again, looking at us as we looked at her and she smiled in her mysterious Sarah Paulson fashion before disappearing into another building. I hissed at Jessica to give chase, but she lost her. That Sarah Paulson is so slippery. The moment has become one of our personal memes.
With our evening plans determined, we could carry on with our day, which meant plenty of nibbling. We decided that we should go to the food court at Reforma 222 and satisfy our craving for literally everything.
And so once we got there, we went from stand to stand, observing all the possibilities. There was a teriyaki place that smelled good and a fifties diner for some reason and then a place that made enormous salads, but for whatever reason, none of these looked at all promising. Instead, we made a very wise decision that I am immensely proud of, we went to McDonald’s.
It was more straightforward this time than it had been before, mainly because I basically ordered everything off the menu. Jessica had a caramelized onion burger and I had an assemblage of all the sides. I had fries, onion rings, cheese potato bites, and something else that I have long forgotten. It was all delicious, but those potato bites were something particularly stunning. I could have eaten them for every meal. And they had bottled Jamaica, so I was thriving.
When we had both had our fill of nibbles and a variety of sauces, we headed up the stairs and into the theater, which had apparently turned into an even bigger gay club than it had been before. The gays were everywhere, in line for tickets, in line for popcorn, canoodling by a massive cardboard cutout, eyeing everybody. It was intense, but then we queued up in the area for Oceans 8, and suddenly Jessica was the only female around, but did she mind? No darling reader, she was in absolute gay heaven.
Soon the film began and we were cackling endlessly. If you haven’t seen Oceans 8 yet, you are a fool. Don’t apologize, just check yourself before you wreck yourself. If you have no idea what the film is about, it’s about Sandra Bullock planning a heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Met Gala. It’s genius and the film is perfectly cast. Jessica and I repeatedly whispered, “QUEEN!” to ourselves in excited approval of a look or a mood or a line.
“Queen!” We hissed at Helena Bonham Carter as she made a 3D copy of a necklace.
“Legendary queen!” We whispered at Sarah Paulson as she filled her garage up with stolen Roombas.
“Iconic queen!” We shouted in unison as Rihanna strutted down the stairs of the Met.
“Slay me, QUEEN!” We screeched at Anna Wintour’s cameo.
It was too perfect. One of the best films I’ve ever seen in a theater, honestly.
We have talked about little else since that momentous night at the theater. Jessica was distracted on the way out of the mall because she was in the mood to follow some gays. I allowed her to engage in her fun and we soon would up at the El Ángel.
It was a gorgeous night, and Mexico was simply too divine to be true.