Monday, January 02, 2017

Nude Taco
How I became a Gay Gringo
By Cal Avocado
 © 2017 Roaming Gardens Press



I am a Gay Gringo facing old age and looking back on history through romance, especially one. I arrived in Mexico bursting with dreams for love after 25 years in San Francisco and New York as the AIDS epidemic began and burned through. Fulfillment came but not as I hoped. My conflict is not wanting boundaries for love and sex in a world of homophobia, disease, poverty and the nature of men. A world full of obstacles.
I planted my desires into Paco like a container that would take them. Each event between us leafed into possibilities and problems. My thoughts grew seeds of doubt and hope, and rained and shined over them. He might not recognize himself from my point of view and feel insulted as will others. These are my opinions. I’m not a camera. Names are changed to blur identities, to protect the innocent from my distrustful and hurtful speculations. Most people prefer a portrait of themselves as a flower or a god, myself included. I present details without vanity or consideration to hide ugly. I want the dirt of real history on my pages. We name streets after ideas we support, not diseases we suffer, but both are guides to living. The HIV crisis shaped my life. The empathy of biography smells like real bodies, fresh or stinking. Biography is musty paper crumbling apart in your fingers recalling original oils, delivering an unrepeatable, nostalgic experience fiction cannot.


It blows around my mind like a trapped bird
Trying to fly out my eyes like windows,
Hitting the glass repeatedly.

Arriving in Mexico

An outsider arrives discovering strange boulevards and gardens in Mexico City and new pleasures like tasting orange papaya and yellow mango for the first time. And Mexicans to love. The one that stirs me today from a safe distance occupies the gaudiest memory from the list. When we were near, it got hot, and thinking about him mushroomed into uncontainable emotions and a desperate need for someone to hear me talk, to get him out.
I was testing livability in San Miguel for a gay man in the expat community and failing to find enough. In New York, it had been easy to find support in the gay community but no gay groups existed in San Miguel. So, I sought out an individual I'd met in his 40's like me, one partner of a newly arrived couple from rural California. It didn't go much better with him and I was convinced the time it would take to knit support in this town would not be worth it. He was out for a night time cruise in the vacant central plaza where gay men covertly hook up. He grew up in Texas where family had disapproved of his sexual orientation. His relationship was open, and probably sexless. He was starved for some. I had accepted an invitation to his house once. A laptop computer was conspicuously placed in the entry way playing a porn video as I entered, as a hook. But I wasn’t interested, somewhat annoyed, and ignored it.
Tonight, wasn’t different. I wanted his ear not the cock he was offering. I'd returned from Mexico City frustrated and Roger impatiently listened to me climb out of worry before rudely cutting me off, You need to get on anti-depressants! He was revealing his lack of interest. He didn’t want to listen but did want to tell his story. I decided to hear it rather than be alone. In a tense outpouring, he recalled a Prozac overdose in a California supermarket. He squalled in his pants before making it to the bathroom. Naturally he was embarrassed and it was dreadful, but I thought to myself how much worse it would be if caused by a disease he couldn’t control, not an optional medication he could dose down or exchange. He finished his story and left right away. It was clear after two meetings, he’s too self-absorbed to listen to anyone. He has scant potential to be a friend.

Becoming a Gringo

Every Friday I walked through colonial San Miguel to the bus station for an enjoyable ride to Mexico City. San Miguel always seemed delightful when I was leaving. I reluctantly returned on Monday mornings knowing I’d feel isolated again. In Mexico City, I spent the weekend at gay cantinas shedding 20 years of New York City striving. In New York, it hadn’t been convenient to go to gay bars. Work or distance interfered. Mexico was a long-crafted plan finally become reality. I'd left before to faraway places. After high school from Phoenix to San Francisco and eight years later, with just 2,000 dollars and a million in excitement, from San Francisco to Manhattan. I was splitting ready to move in each case but breaking off was excruciating. The fight for courage to go just a little stronger than fear not to.
During my last years in New York I took trips to Mexico that got longer and longer. It was so exciting, turning off to sleep could be hard. My favorite destinations were Mexico City and Oaxaca but I wanted the entire country and fantasized living where ever I happened to be. Being a foreigner was interesting for many reasons, including speaking Spanish, and the handsome men, a mixture of Spanish, Native American, and African. Apart from the different culture and people was new scenery and plants. Jungles as astounding as any northern forest I’d enjoyed. Mexico also offered the comfort of familiar landscapes from Arizona and California I'd grown up in, recalling home after two decades in New York. Finally, Mexico had low prices.
I'd lie awake in bed unable to sleep, Mexico City racing my heart, and get up tired the next day. It was a huge city, too big to understand, and mine to discover. I'd felt the same in New York and San Francisco each in its era, but they had gotten smaller over the years. Here, I had the money to choose where I wanted to live, not forced to last choices like in the former. If I had a tail it would be excited.

The Neon Pyramid

After checking in my hotel, I’d stroll to my favorite cantina in the weathered 700-year-old downtown, called Tenochtitlan by the Aztec founders. And walk along the oldest street in the Americas, the Mexico-Tacuba Road. I visited the Zocalo, the central plaza, among the biggest in the world, before heading to the red-light district. The roguish inner city blocks of the entertainment district are festooned with brilliant neon signs naming timeworn hotels and uncertain bars. Carnival lights pop out of the blackness; tangerine, pink, blue and green.
The heart of the neighborhood is Plaza Garibaldi. The sleazy night life icon of the nation that means mariachi party and streetwalker flash to all Mexico. Surrounding the plaza of roving musicians are warrens of streets teeming with people navigating sidewalks day and night. Stalls and carts sell tacos, advertised by the sizzling sound and smell of raw meat dropped in boiling fat. Other stands sell pirated merchandise and second hand goods. Speakers blast samples of music for sale. More noise adds to the chaos from honking taxis and open doorways to dance halls. Dirty, cramped stores sell beer, cheap alcohol in plastic bottles, cigarettes and candy.
Plaza Garabaldi is irregularly shaped with quieter extensions snaking off in a couple of directions. Friday and Saturday nights, it's packed with free-lance bands playing Mexican standards to clients who pay by the song. Walking through sounds like an orchestra rehearsal. The sounds of different bands intersect in muddy clamor as customers drink beer from rolling vendors. The moving carnival in the center of the plaza continues along the periphery in cantinas and restaurants with tables inside and out at higher cost for those who want to sit down.
The most popular drink for the party is the Caguama, a 32-ounce family size bottle of beer that looks like a turtle, hence the name. Guard your belongings against athletic thieves that might grab your phone or camera in the middle of a call and run off. It happened to a gringo friend with me. Crime can escalate beyond theft. In 2013 Malcolm X's grandson was killed here in a dispute. Avoided by some, Plaza Garibaldi remains the rustic Mexican version of old Times Square in New York before it was cleaned up.
A couple of blocks south of the Plaza is a tattered theatre, Teatro Blanquita, on the main street of downtown, El Eje Central, (The Central Axis). The Blanquita looks calmly tethered to 1960, the year it opened. It's not unusual for buildings, even important ones, not to be repaired in Mexico. The rundown venue features a long running transvestite show presented by Frances, Mexico's most famous transsexual, now deceased. She was recognized by millions from appearances on chat television and her traveling show to all points in the nation. Mariachi musicians line the sides of the wide boulevard outside the theatre. The musicians dress uniformly in an old-fashioned costume of tight black or beige embroidered pants, vest, and floppy bow tie. They chase cars on foot, yelling and creating a ruckus with their arms raised and waving, trying to sell themselves for a party elsewhere or a serenade right here alongside a client’s rolled down car window.

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[1] Pun on slogan of General Mills Breakfast Cereal, Trix: “Silly Rabbit Trix are for Kids!”
[2] Gay slang for a non-Mexican who is attracted to Mexicans.
[3] Mexican slang for white skin.
[4] Source: Level & Trends in Child Mortality. Estimates Developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA, UNPD).
[5] From Aztec Náhuatl language, meaning public market.
[6] Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome AIDS.
[7] STI, Sexually Transmitted Infection
[8] Social Science & Medicine 58 (2004) 2105–2118, Nicolas Sheon*, G. Michael Crosby, Pg. 2106
[9] Alcoholics Anonymous AA
[10] Dive Bar, a dirty bar with drunks and cockroaches
[11] Mexican slang for the United States; El Otro Lado The Other Side
[14] GUADALAJARA, JALISCO (12/SEP/2016).- Siete mil extranjeros residentes en la Ribera de Chapala es el dato aproximado que maneja The Lake Chapala Society, pero en temporada alta suman hasta 17 mil
[15]SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Gto - Rocío Hernández Monreal / Edgar Amigón 03.03.2014 Hoy en día, de los 160 mil habitantes que tiene el municipio, 13 mil (8.12 por ciento) son de origen extranjero
[16] Fresa or strawberry in English, slang for rich kid
[17] Sexual Transmitted Infections
[18] Men who identify as heterosexual, but secretly have sex with men.
[19] El Tahur means Cardsharp in English
[20] Person from Northern Mexico
[21] Cuidadela originally was a cigar factory. Today it is a library and park.
[22] Group of people that congregate in a public place for a period of time to protest or make demands.
[23] Ring highway around Mexico City
[24] Hoy en día, de los 160 mil habitantes que tiene el municipio, 13 mil (8.12 por ciento) son de origen extranjero
[25] Según una encuesta del instituto de investigación CIDAC, de 2009, 4% de la población domina el inglés; para la Encuesta de Bienestar
Autorreportado del INEGI de 2012 era el 9.4%, y según un estudio de Consulta
Mitofsky de 2013 el 11.6% de los mexicanos hablan inglés
[26] People from the Mexican State of Puebla
[27] People from the Mexican State of Sonora
[28] Gay slang for a woman used as a cover for a gay partner
[29] Chilangolandia is slang reference to Mexico City, A Chilango is a resident of Mexico City
[30] Paid assassin, usually underage that won’t go to prison.
[31] Slang for drunk
[32] Mexican slang for faggots, male whores.
[33] APA, “Study finds sex differences in relationship between arousal and orientation”: April 2003, Vol 34, No. 4, Print version: page 51
[34] Maria Paz Bermudez “Situacion Actual de VIH/SIDA en Mexico,” Psicologia y Salud, Vol. 14, Num I: p 108, enero-junio de 2004
[35]“Representation in Municipal Government” by Chris Tausanovich and Christopher Warshaw, March 2014, American Political Science Review
[36] Mexican slang for faggot
[37] African-American slang for faggot
[38] Spanish nickname for Phoenix
[39] Gallup, Countries Ranked by Median Self-Reported Per Capita and Household Income, 2006-2012
[40] Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco: The Castro, KQED, 2009
[41] Alcoholics Anonymous. The price of hiding and self -deception for your well-being.
[44] July 29, 2013 US News and World Report,
[45] The number of Priests (in thousands) vs the number of self-identified Catholics (in millions) using data from
[47] Rictor Norton, A History of Homophobia, "1 The Ancient Hebrews" 15 April 2002, updated 28 Febriaru 2012 
[49] Modeling HIV Transmission and AIDS in the United States, By Herbert W. Hethcote and James W. Van Ark 
[50] Ibid., p. 62
[52] Ibid., p. 62.
[53] Modeling HIV Transmission and AIDS in the United States, By Herbert W. Hethcote and James W. Van Ark 
[57] pg 784 Encyclopedia of AIDS: A Social, Political, Cultural, and Scientific Record. Edited by Raymond A. Smith
[58] Metropolitan Museum in Ft. Tryon Park, Upper Manhattan
[60] Moving Toward Reduced HIV Incidence: How the San Francisco Experience Can Inform National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Grant Colfax, MD Director of HIV Prevention and Research San Francisco Department of Public Health Stall, et al. AIDS Behav, 2009
[61] A person who frequently crosses the US-Mexican border and feels at home on both sides of the border. A term used by Mexicans (frequently pejoratively) to describe Chicanos and those who have left Mexico
[63] Tenochtitlan was capital of Aztec Empire. Today the ruins of Tenochtitlan are located in Mexico City's downtown.

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