Wednesday, April 27, 2005

la mariachi

i spent a summer in minneapolis and created a monster.
a salsa-dancing monster.

there was a mixup with the place i was supposed to stay. so i rang up a complete stranger. well, she wasn't a complete stranger. a girl from the program (whom i'd only just met) went to college with her in florida. and me, one of the most paranoid people in the midwest, I trusted her after one 30-second phone call. it was a lucky good decision.

we were an odd pair -- her: 6-foot-something with flowing blonde hair that others only hope to get from a bottle, and me: 5-foot and little more, dark with long dark hair and an attitude for strangers. my new pal, a violinist, was curious about everything and had enough enthusiasm for both of us. i had picked up a taste for salsa dancing and decided to share. it made for one interesting summer.

now, i'm not going to be pinning a number to my back and spinning around the parquet floor anytime soon, but i knew the basics. this girl picked them up in an evening and by the end of a month danced circles around me and nearly everyone else in the city. it got to the point where we were out dancing 2 to 3 times a week. and it was fun. in a town where a lot of people are far from home, there are a good number who turn up just to dance. (where i live now, you'd better come with a decent partner or the only dancing you'll be doing is manuvering away from some slimy grabbyhands slurrily asking you the same question over and over.)

soon i began to tire of the 24-hour salsa party, but my pal couldn't get enough. she picked up some spanish and wanted to know all the words to her favorite songs. she even found herself a casanova with a limited vocabulary but plenty of moves. that's when i knew she was hooked.

the summer came to an end. i hung up my heels and returned to school. she kept dancing. we kept in touch, but i really had no clue what kind of influence that summer had until she called me up one day to tell me she'd decided on what she wants to do when she grows up: be a mariachi. all that dancing got her into all kinds of latino culture, and here was a chance for her to showcase her classical string skills, too. it was the perfect match.

today she lives in texas and plays in an all-girl mariachi band. people specifically request 'la rubia.' she speaks a good amount of spanish and of course, is still tearing up the dance floor. to this day when i call, she tells people that i was the one who taught her to salsa. i blush at that because all i did was show her the basics and natural talent did the rest. but i am proud to have seen how far she's taken it beyond us sashaying in front of the mirror in her apartment all those years ago.

i think i was meant to meet her that summer. i could have been assigned to indianapolis or austin or des moines. but i was meant to hold out that first marc anthony cd and open up a new world for her.

damn, where would we be if i had a taste for breaking back then and busted out a doug e. fresh and the get fresh crew album instead?


opiatedsherpa said...

Wicked rants, mate! Love the title of your page as well...

If they read obituaries in hell, does that mean they do in heaven?

jazz said...

ooooooh! i got goosebumps while reading this. makes me very excited for my lessons. woohoo!

omar said...

Great story!

Your closing thought had me cracking up. She would have been calling you to let you know she won a DJ battle in the Bronx, or something like that.

Ale said...

hey cadiz, can you influence me to become a super multi million dollar making, yacht and jet owning, marine biologist???? so I can call you from MY private beach in hawaii and let you talk to Flipper --- cus' when i become a marine biologist i will teach the dolphins to speak English, italian, spanish... and maybe i'll throw in YOUR mother tongue as well just as a special thanks. what do you say!!!

--but honestly not to make fun of your powers, (after i just did) I think its a great feeling to have had influenced someone so positively. ---- besotos mamacita

The Girl said...

Love it. Salsa is indeed addicting. When I was in Costa Rica, my school sponsored two free hours of lessons a day. I became a little salsera. I can't believe the joined a mariachi band though...Quite a stretch! Great story, though.

I don't think our banana bread has any "special ingredients." It's just much moister and tastier than any other ones I've tried. I also put this delicious icing/frosting on top that's made with browned butter that makes it extra fantastic. In actuality, its more of a cake disguised as a bread.
And nope, haven't had banana bread in hawaii, although I did have coconut macadamia bread pudding, which was divine.. I tried to replicate it back here, but it just isn't the same in the midwest. :)

cadiz12 said...

opiated -- thanks! i'd guess they probably read them both in heaven and hell, just to find out who's coming.

jasmine -- can't wait to hear all about your lessons; just don't go with any expectations, b/c i would feel guilty for contributing to a let down.

omar -- you know, this girl has such an open mind and a taste for culture that i wouldn't have been surprised if we spent that summer cutting up t-shirts and lacing up our adidas, if the breeze had blown the other way. b-girls are the baddest!

ale -- um, what happened to your idea of becoming a millionairess and letting me set up studio in the east wing of your island villa? you think you can get those dolphins to serve drinks, too?

olivia -- well she already had 15 years of classical violin training under her belt, so it was probably a natural step. but when she tells me she's into banda and busts out the fringe, then i'll know she's really gone over the top.

isn't everything more tasty when you're eating it on a tropical island? sigh.