Chili Today, Hot Tamale

Struggling to find balance on this blog. I was moved to start my own blog after the nastiness and shrillness of the Kickin Ass blog (Official blog of the Democratic Party) drove me away. I made good friends over the three years or so I contributed there, some of whom will be life long friends. But blind loyalty to a political party, like blind loyalty to a country, to me anyway, is counter-productive. Anyway, I can’t seem to escape my activist roots. I try to expand my writing to other areas of my life, family, friends, shit, even pets. I think I admire openness and transparency so much because it is not my nature, some of you bloggers can just hang it out there, and I think it’s ballsy. Well, part of me wants to share more about my weekend with Aunt B, and perhaps I will, one day, but for now I think I will keep it close to home. I will go on record that she almost totally wussed out on the 4 wheeler. I had to engage hyper mocking drive to get her up and down a hill the size of your average Titan cheerleader’s breast. Pathetic. Yea, I’ll share that, for real.

I have to make this observation “public” though. Through the goodness of the Gods, I met an angel in the grocery store. Her and her mother were buying groceries, and from their selections I just knew momma was a first rate cook. I engaged them, and soon we agreed on a price for home-made tamales. (my current tamale connect is reliable, but the product has been sub-standard of late) So, yesterday, I arrived at their home with a good friend of mine in tow. The area of town that they live in isn’t particularly nice. It is mere steps from the railroad tracks, and this road is chock full of renters so many of the houses and yards are in a constant state of dis-repair. We knocked on the door, and Maria opened it, smiled broadly and invited us into the kitchen, where her mother and Aunt were just removing tamales from a large pot on the stove. There was food everywhere. The sights and smells were at once familiar and comforting. I was in my mother’s house again. There were four children present, sitting in chairs by the open back door, and speaking a beautiful mixture of Spanish and English, drawing or coloring and laughing most of the time. Their girls had their jet black hair brushed and braided and they had shiny things holding it in place. Their faces were scrubbed clean, their clothes pressed. The house was orderly and chaotic at the same time. The women smiled at us and made us sit at the table, and sample the tamales. Alicia took hers, freshly “shucked”, and sprinkled it with chopped lettuce, then ladled some fresh salsa over it and handed it to my friend. She warned that it was “hot.” I though she meant “stove hot,” but no, as my friend soon discovered, she meant hot in the way that hot can hit your stomach, then work it’s way back up through your lungs and ultimately engulfs you in a perfect capsicum laden cloud, causing your metabolism to accelerate, sets your heart to racing, and ends with you wiping your brow on your shirtsleeve. That kind of hot. Perfect. As I was enjoying this dish, I was struck by those faces over by the door. Each of them had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Large, oval and it may sound corny, but I saw the whole world in them. The oldest was born in Mexico, but came here when she was one yr old. Her brother and sisters were born here in the States. I was glad that my friend Andy was there, but I so wanted Kleinheider to be there as well. I wanted him to see this family. I wanted him to taste this food, I wanted him to gaze at these children, and then, I wanted him to explain to me what would be gained by him “walking them back over the border.” The preservation of the rule of law? Unjust laws are, and have been challenged throughout this Nation’s history. It’s intrinsic to the American experience. Welcoming and celebrating the presence of these people seems intrinsic to the Christian experience. I so want to challenge Adam to accompany me to this home, talk to this family, share a meal, and learn about what its like to live in the shadows, yet contribute so much to the community. Something tells me his bravado would quickly dissipate, and he would no more be able to seperate this family from each other than he would be able to shoot a defenseless puppy. Thats because I know he has a brain, and I believe he has a heart. I think his protestations otherwise are merely wishful thinking. I stay after you, man, because you are an influential conservative. I always suspected it, but it was confirmed by the howling and whining which took place when you single-handedly prevented a Fred Thompson run for the Presidency. That online achievement, (ok, and one other) has made you a hero to me. So, it’s out there, ACK, this opportunity, whenever you care to broaden your perspective a bit. Call me. Just not with your cellphone…

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Chili Today, Hot Tamale

  1. Mack, I think this is the best post you have ever written. Bravo.

  2. Ivy, as someone who struggles to put words on “paper”, your compliment means so much. Thank you.

  3. I said this over at VV, and I’ll repeat myself here, because I don’t want to be talkin’ smack behind your back as it were.

    On the immigration issue I fall somewhere between you and ACK on the scale. But I will say honestly that your repeated appeals to emotion are as annoying to me as I’m sure my repeated appeals to the Rule of Law are to you.

    I agree that all of the immigrants who come here, whether under cover of law or cover of darkness are human beings. I agree that our use of illegal immigration is a genteel form of slavery. I agree that many of the people of various ethnicities are beautiful with shining hair and sparkling eyes and apple cheeks and voices which lilt with song as they speak.

    But this is a nation, not a church supper. By its very structure it cannot be open to all comers. Yes, I’d dearly love to see some form of immigration reform because I believe that our policies are outdated and still in a post WWII mindset.

    But I know far too many people who have laboured and sacrificed to come here legally–all of them are just as beautiful, just as promising–to bow to the whims of emotion.

  4. Funny, I just replied to you over at Kleinrocket’s place.

  5. Jon

    Such a beautiful post.

    It’s wonderful living where I do (Nolensville Rd) because I get little glimpses of this constantly. One day it’s the mother with her children in line at Kroger, another day it’s the table of day laborers laughing over a beer at Las Chivas — I’m just so often graced with these voyeuristic peeks into the lives of people whose language I may not understand but whose presence makes my own life more rich.

    When someone can explain to me how human rights are justly linked to GPS coordinates, maybe I’ll care a whit about the law.

  6. OH well said, Jon! Great to see you on the Mack Daddy’s blog, btw.

    This is indeed a beautiful post, and as much as some would like to take the emotion out of such a serious issue, the fact is that we are humans with emotions. It is crucial to keep in touch with the human side in order to balance out the dehumanizing rhetoric of those who want to see this as a “this land is mine, not yours” argument. As the rule of law applies, so does human need. There must be balance. Thank goodness there are people like you, Mack, to keep that in our face… I cannot recall if I have read anybody else who does this…in fact, I don’t think I have.

  7. My issue with the appeal to emotion in immigration is in part because I don’t think it’s fair.

    I mean, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

    I can’t stand the anti-immigration appeals to emotion that flood the discourse. You know what I mean….all the stories about how some axe-wielding dog rapist came to Our Fine Country illegally and got drunk or high on the marijuana and ran a stoplight and now some pretty blond American Citizen named Jenny is going to be a vegetable for the rest of her life. And then we have to hear from Jenny’s angry parents about how bad immigration policy and the eeeevil Mexicans robbed them of their precious daughter.

    I think those appeals to emotion are propagandistic. I don’t see how either side’s flowery stories move us closer to a solution to the problem.

  8. Mack, thanks for bringing us along with you by way of this story. You have perfectly described the blessing that awaits a visitor to this home. I believe our Maker delights in our making these connections.

    With your permission, I will reprint this post on HispanicNashville.com and LibertyTogether.com – where I write about the Hispanic members of the Nashville community and where I publish positive voices for immigrants, Hispanics, and the American soul.

  9. Beautifully written, Mack.
    Truly.

  10. See, these are the thousand words they say a picture’s worth.

    The mental picture you painted is worth a least 10 grand, I’d say.

    Thank you, sir.

  11. Pingback: El corazón está repleto…or…My Heart is Full « GingerSnaps

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