Monday, February 9, 2009

Pelted With Candy

This Sunday was one for the books: a baptism party in Mexico!

My landlord, Agustine, invited me to join him to his friend's brother's son's baptism party (or some connection like that). Erica, a teacher, also renting a room, was going as well. I was feeling sulky and dragged my heels, but eventually put on my one nice outfit and we all headed over to the next town. Here's how it played out.

We arrive at the party around 3pm. It is a big overhang with a long table down the middle. Chairs line the outer walls. Another room around the side is lined with more tables and chairs. A mariachi band plays. We make our way to the end of the table and sit down in some empty chairs. I'm glad I've come: this is a slice of Mexico I would not see on my own.

Two men are walking around with buckets of soda and beer. We get three Coronas. Another man is walking around with mezcal, the local moonshine. I am feeling a bit self-conscious being the only American, and want to keep a low profile. Taking a shot doesn't seem prudent, so I politely decline.

Lunch is served: bowls of soup, and plates of pork, beans, and salsa. A woman walks around offering people plastic bags so if they don't finish their meal, they can bring the food home. I think, "Doggie bags provided, pre-meal!" Then, I think about the strangeness of the phrase "doggie bag".

We eat. The buckets of beer and soda make their rounds. All of a sudden, everyone gets up. I hastily wipe my mouth and think, "What? We're leaving?" No no. We vacate our chairs at the table and go to sit in the outer ring of chairs. Seating #2 begins.

More than 200 people eat at that long table in at least three shifts. The cups and plates are Styrofoam. The utensil of choice is plastic spoons. Cleanup between the seatings is quick: shove and go.

Meals completed, tables are broken down and the mariachi band makes its exit. The band on the stage takes over. The music is so loud I can feel it vibrate in my stomach. The next few hours are a well-orchestrated event with periodic doses of beer, candy, tequila, cake, gifts, and dancing. At one point this huge puppet with a papermache face comes out and twirls in the crowd. I am dancing. Everyone is dancing. And then, all of a sudden, the puppet is hoisted on top of me! Already the tallest person in the room, I am now the enormous orange puppet, swinging my fake arms and shaking my rustling hair.

Forget keeping a low profile. After dancing in the puppet, I am a quasi-star of the party, part celebrity, part clown. The band gives me a free autographed cd. I hear my name every so often -- at one point, while sitting down (taking a break), the dj mentions my name and and something about dancing, and everyone turns towards me and laughs. It is friendly and fun.

Lots of gifts come flying through the air throughout the afternoon. Candy. Sombreros. Balloons. At one point all the ladies get handed a pineapple. Then we are led in a line dance with pineapples and sombreros. (I want to take a picture, but my hands are full with the said pineapple).

We bid our adieu (or, um, adios) around 8:30pm. Everyone waves. A man I had danced with a couple of times gallently kisses my hand. We climb into the VW bug and head home.

1 comment:

Ellen Atkin said...

what a great story. so funny. classic.