...can sure wreak havoc with a simple brain like mine which, although inordinately clever, is also susceptible to distraction. Yesterday was Memorial Day, a day which, since 1865, has been set aside to commemorate the sacrifice of American soldiers who have given so much so that we can have ... so much.
Some people get all uppity about the solemnity of the occasion and need to write to newspaper op-ed pages in order to opine the sacrifices that they themselves make in order to show that they appreciate the sacrifice that someone else has made so that he can choose to do so.
I am also not solemn and holy enough on the Sixth of June or on Veterans' Day or on the Third of March, which is National Anthem Day.
I do not believe, however, that it can "tarnish the memory" of anyone's sacrifice to celebrate the freedoms that that sacrifice has secured.
And so, I do what I have been known to do at times -- like when my Beloved lost her job or when our cats died -- I go to Ixtapa Cantina on Route Six in Dartmouth.
And I thought that I could have written that sign, with a snide little wink, saying, "Yeah, we're closed, because you cheap selfish xenophobic hayseeds have no sense of community, don't even own passports, and you had the nerve to not support us!"
I've heard what my neighbors say about Ixtapa. Over and over. In newspaper forums and in overheard conversations. Like how it's "just not as good as a real Mexican restaurant," like Taco Bell, they will suggest, for instance.
I've been to dives and hovels that none of these lightweights would ever dare venture near. I've eaten in places where the freshest food was in the bottle of pickled eggs behind the cash register. I've had to make instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and Spam serve three guys for two days. In rough seas.
I've also eaten meals on place settings that were worth more than my college tuition. Served by people who have served kings and celebrities. Meals that were prepared by Emeril Lagasse, by Wolfgang Puck. By my mother...
But a meal at Ixtapa had nothing to do with the food or the preparation of it. I looked forward to the Ixtapa smile and a ¿Cómo estás, amigos? A place where, if they didn't know your name, they greeted you warmly and made sure that you knew theirs. (I still don't know the names of the guys at some other local restaurants, and I think that I went to school with them.)
My first experience with restaurant Mexican food was a place called Dos Yanquis, which had opened on Thames Street in Newport in the late Seventies, one of five restaurants on the strip at the time, and one of the three restaurants on the street that did not also feature an appearance by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band at some point during the evening. Dos Yanquis (I still have their menu -- somewhere) led to my love of mariachi and guacamole. (I had always appreciated those smoldering dark-haired waitresses, ever since I was eleven and the local VHF station showed Mexican movies on Saturday mornings at six. Which reminds me: Maria Montez's birthday is in a couple of weeks. ¡Ay chihuahua!)
My first experience at Ixtapa was one of those "Hey, that place is new, let's stop in!" moments that can often turn out tragically miscast and inopportune. I was probably trying too hard to impress My Beloved by ordering extravagantly, so Ezekiel the host took to calling me compadre, and I was hooked.
Since my bout with Lyme, Mexican food has been a life-quality treat. As my GFR remains stable along with my creatinine levels, a bowl of sopa de albondigas or a simple-as-that baja chimichanga -- hold the tomatoes -- provides a modicum of normalcy in a diet that in very few ways resembles the one that I grew up with.
It was nice to have it so close to home. My Beloved and I will drive to their shop in Lunenburg or Lexington or even (gasp!) Woburn.