Mixed Messages

“…flat. My word, that woman is flat!” My ears perked up. What a rude thing to say, I thought. I was standing between two popular gathering places at Ajijic’s plaza, El Jardin Restaurant and Black and White Coffe —Yes. That is how it is spelled — waiting for a friend. Conversations from under their outdoor umbrellas swirled, ricocheted, and collided around me. I was drawn into discussions in which I had no interest. “How many times do you have to tell her ‘You’re flat.’ She always sings flat. She shouldn’t be in the church choir anymore. She sounds like…”

“…Shit! That damn dog just crapped on the sidewalk,” a man blared behind me from the restaurant. “He did it right there, where everyone walks. And, look, his owner just saw it and now he’s pulling the dog’s leash, leading him away. He should be punished, maybe forced to…”

“…watch FOX News. I do it for the laughs,” a slender man in a black trucker hat told three coffee drinkers sharing his table. “I mean, there hasn’t been a good TV comedy since…”

“…Bill Clinton said, ‘I did not have sex with that woman,’” the elderly, slightly effeminate man sitting near the back of the restaurant told the much younger Mexican man sitting with him. “I mean, what does he consider sex? Whether he thinks so or not, a blow job is…”

“…a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. We’ve lived here now for over three years and we had never gone to the thermal baths in San Juan Cosala before.” The lady wearing a bright colored top with more sequins than a drag queen’s dressing room smiled. “I’d recommend it to anyone who has…”

“…a small penis. Who cares if Trump has a small penis? He’s gonna make America great again. I’d be more concerned if he has…”

“…dog shit on his shoe. That poor man just stepped in that pile of dog shit,” an older woman with dyed jet black hair said. “He’s noticed and he’s trying to clean it with a little piece of tissue. Oh no. He’s got it all over his …”

“…passport. I have just got to update it,” a bearded man in an orange and lime green aloha shirt told a short, older man wearing red, white, and blue striped suspenders over his dingy white T-shirt. They stirred their lattes in unison, clinking a caffeinated Morse Code. “Louise and I plan on taking another trip to…”

“…Pluto. I don’t know why but Pluto has always been my favorite Disney character.” The woman with gray-blonde hair piled sloppily atop her head dabbed the remnants of lunch from the corners of her mouth and placed the wafer-thin paper napkin on her plate. “Have you ever noticed that Pluto has got the biggest…”

“…basket. It is bigger than he is,” a bald man wearing a Toronto Blue Jays jersey said as he watched a young boy carry a broad basket teeming with baked goods across the plaza.  His voice carried from the coffeehouse’s furthest umbrella. “His pastries are really good,” the man added. “But the best are his fried…”

“…skateboarders. It’s not safe walking on the malecόn,” a feeble, pale woman wobbling past me in a walker complained to a much younger Latina woman inching along next to her. The younger woman had a bored expression and appeared to be more concerned with the older woman’s safety than her words. “Those skateboarders, with their disgusting sagging pants and visible underwear,” the woman continued, “are more inconsiderate and disrespectful than…”

“…Republicans. Oh yes. There are more living here than people realize.” My head turned back toward the restaurant. “There could be as many as…”

“…3.97. But that wasn’t enough to make me valedictorian or salutatorian.  I was crushed,” a woman uttered in a slow Southern drawl from the coffee shop. “But it didn’t stop me from attending Texas A&M for a semester and then, years later, going to Trump University. But not making high school valedictorian absolutely knocked me…”

“…flat. A god damn flat tire. So that’s why I’m late,” my friend startled me, as he panted his arrival. “Anyway, I got new hearing aid batteries at Walmart and I can hear again. So how long have you been waiting?”

“What?” I replied.

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