Red Hot Chili Peppers...
And an old woman rambling about her 21st birthday that took place in 2002.
As things start to reopen and people fill the streets again, I’m forever changed.
Not one to be the center of attention anyway, attending parties and being entertaining is extremely exhausting for me. It usually requires days of post-decompression and alone time. So, when the “Pan de Coño” required us to stay inside for extended lengths of time, I was more than happy to oblige. “Oh, more time to not have to fake that I don’t really wanna co-mingle and probably lie about not showing up to your function? Awesome!”
I’ve just been spending time thinking about a certain period of my life.
We didn’t get a computer until like…2001. Mami went out and bought a brand new Gateway computer. She knew nothing about computers, the salespeople saw her coming a mile away and at the time, it was a shitty computer. However, that damn thing was still alive and kicking on dial up in 2010, the year after I enrolled in culinary school. But, that’s much further down the road then I wanna talk about.
When we first got the computer, I would spend hours at that desktop writing, chatting in the AOL chat rooms, and listening to the Blood Sugar Sex Magic album (yes, I said album) that had been released a decade earlier. To this day, it’s still my favorite album. It reminds me of a time of Daria, combat boots and floral dresses and The Truth About Cats and Dogs; the era where Janeane Marie Garofalo reigned!
While bullets flew outside between the crips and bloods, I was eternally inside smoking weed and staying up until 5AM painting and creating. I was as pale as I’ve ever been in life, with dark circles around my eyes. Watching movies where quirky and sarcastic white women unexpectedly found romance and friendship in neighborhoods filled with Spanish-style casitas built in the 1930s and 40s.
I never had a shot at being happy in 2021, did I?
And the funny thing is, a career in food was never on my mind. I was much more interested in spending my 21st birthday with my mentor Berenice Badillo - a badass Chicana artist - in her town of San Diego. She showed up at the airport in a foot cast and at some point I had to drive, ridiculously stoned, down the highway from LA to Chula Vista, yelling out, “WHY IS THIS FUCKING FREEWAY SO WINDING?”
She took me to a party in Echo Park where everyone was so welcoming and so diverse and insistent on getting me totally faded for my 21st. Of course, I spotted the finest Chicano with long flowing black hair (which still remains my type) who ended up being a poet. Of course. Back then, my move was to get them to see me doing something “domestic,” which meant I cooked for them or they saw me cleaning. Was it an archaic idea? Duh. Did it often work? Duh. I posted myself up in the kitchen (whose fucking house was this anyway? I don’t know) and started to wash dishes and make cocktails for random people. It was a total crowd pleaser. Eventually, the vato came over and introduced himself. Nope. Not interested. How do I know? He introduced his white girlfriend to me. Of course. Every BIPOC dude I was interested in that was intelligent and funny always had a white girlfriend. Who WAS interested in me? Some Mexican-guerito with auburn hair I had spent the last three hours talking to about RHCP. Whoops.
Somehow or another several of us ended up in Ocean Beach - a tiny beachside community where little houses are protected by picket fences and the sidewalks are covered in sand - in an abandoned warehouse, random discarded couches, dudes playing acoustic guitars, lit only by candles that flickered upon surf boards leaning against the walls. I got separated from Berenice when the guerito and I walked the few blocks to the beach, where we sat in the sand and he held me and we made out. I had never had a dude just sit and hold me. And in that moment I got my 1990s (except it was 2002) quirky film moment of finding a-for-the-night partner that kissed me amongst the beachside Spanish-style houses built in the 1930s and 40s.
At some point I reconnected with Berenice and we ended up with some people at fucking Señor Frogs, shooting pool.
I always used food and art and music to enrich myself and make myself more interesting. In that, I haven’t changed. This one fleeting night has been burned into my memory for the last 19 years. And that’s too painful to even think about. And yet, I think about it every now and then.
Above Image: Me, Guerito and Berenice on my 21st birthday.