i dont drive at night. im nervous about drunks. but it was St. Paddys and i missed a day of work while doing the podcast, so i needed to make up for it by driving as long as I could.
even in the dark.
i had been doing long drives during the day. ones id normally ignore but they were giving me offers i couldnt refuse.
for example, i got not one, but two trips for over $60 that took an hour and 15 minutes each that went 54 miles. was this Christmas? sort of!
but after the second long ride i was experiencing the thing i feared.
it was 8pm. dark. and i was in an unknown part of the world: behind the orange curtain. i got a decent offer for a short trip so i accepted it.
naturally it was two drunk people. but they were adults. parents, probably. they complained about how they had committed a faux paux at the restaurant with one of the gay waiters and it escalated into dirty looks and shortness. and the couple decided not to leave a tip on $100 check.
“you know what you can do,” i said to the slurring pair, “you can give me his tip and all will be right in the universe.”
AND THEY DID.
9 minute trip, $20 tip. $26.85 for the service of being their therapist, as she told me I had been.
great, but i was in yorba linda, in the dark. and thats when i got a ping to go from nearby Placentia to Reseda for $40.
when i accepted, i saw the guy’s name was Miguel. which made me nervous because i like to talk and hear tales and sometimes these nice people don’t speak english.
i thought i should cancel because that’s a long time of not talking to each other. but i resisted.
then i turned into a motor home park. i nearly canceled then too. who is this guy?
but i didn’t chicken out when i saw these were really beautiful motorhomes. double wides. whatever you call them. this was like the best motor park id ever seen. there were flowers in front people’s places. a covered parking lot. it was cool. better than my crib!
out comes a latino guy, middle age, cowboy hat, dress shirt, jeans, goatee. and a minute later, an even bigger guy with all that stuff too. they got in the back and we were off.
So we’re going to the Coco Bongo in Reseda? Is that a restaurant? I asked.
“Reseda?! we’re going to Downey,” Miguel said, looking panicked in the dark back seat.
I pulled over as he struggled to change the destination in the app. As he did he explained it was a “country and western” dancing place.
then he specified it is Ranchera. “Mexican country western music.”
he figured out how to change the address. my screen was updated and we headed to Downey. miguel breathed a sigh.
he asked me how much i knew about Ranchera music, Mexico, Mexicans? I told him I had been to baja countless times, even san felipe and cancun, but none of those probably count.
they count, he said. his buddy kept quiet. didn’t even fiddle with his phone.
why did you go to san felipe, miguel asked
oh, it was a long time ago, maybe 25 years ago. two of my stoner friends and i were at a lame party in san diego on a really warm night and decided to just drive all night into mexico and see how far we could go. this was before gps or smart phones. we ended up in san felipe.
i really want to go to mexico city tho. i said.
miguel told me he had been living in mexico city for a month for work and loved it. i’d move there if i could, he said.
whats stopping you? i asked, wondering if i had ever heard of a mexican dude fail at trying to move to mexico.
my family, my friends, he said
and my husband
he squeezed the knee of the big strong silent guy next to him.
MIGUEL! how long have you two been married?
truthfully, we’re gonna get married in june.
and like you, i suddenly had lots of questions.
when did he come out, has he kissed girls, how did they meet, were his parents cool with him being gay, was his husbands family cool with it?
25, several when he was younger to fool everyone, at a gay country dance club, yes, no but they’re warming up to it.
did you say a gay ranchera dance club miguel?
was it in DTLA?
they got that in OC?
amigo, we’re everywhere.
looks like you are my man. i love this! i said. so let me ask you this, i am Black, and some Black men feel they can’t be open about being gay. they have to be on the ‘down low.’ is that how it is in Mexico too?
it depends on how catholic the family is and how much machismo the dad has. many mexican dads don’t want to tell their friends: my son is gay.
i shook my head and frowned behind my n95 mask
then he asked, but do you know how important Black people are to gay rights?
that page must of have been torn out of my critical race theory book, i said, educate me!
Stonewall. those were Black drag queens who had had enough, he said.
really! he said and then translated it for his fiance.
all i could make out was negro.