Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cinco de Burro: June 25, 2006

How long does it take for the enchantment with Mexico to wear off? In our case, 39 days.

Sunday, June 25, 2006
The Birds


You could probably compile a thick anthology of New Yorker cartoons in which the city slickers slumber blissfully, undisturbed by the traffic noise and the gunfire and then, when they vacation in the countryside, are kept awake all night by the sound of chirping birds and babbling brooks. Let me tell you, there’s nothing funny about it. These fuckin’ birds are killing me. They start up around 5:15AM. There’s probably 200 of them, but there’s one in particular – I know absolutely nothing about birds, and at that hour it’s too dark to see, but I imagine it to be a small, prissy, tremendously self-satisfied little fuck who, even if you somehow succeeded in killing him, would yield only a few mouthfuls of greasy dark meat – with a repetitive, three-part call: do do do doo…do do do doo…do do doo DEE DEE doo doo. He’s either really, really enamored with the sound of his own voice, or this call has succeeded in getting him laid in the past, but if I thought for a minute that burning the house down might cause him to move to another neighborhood, I’d have done it three weeks ago.

The birds are pretty quickly drowned out by the fireworks, though - part of the Mexican custom of helping St. Whoever welcome the dawn of his special feast day. I’m guessing there are roughly 350 saints who have their own day here. The idea that a saint may want to sleep in a bit, then start his feast day with the Times crossword puzzle over breakfast in bed seems to have no cultural resonance here. It’s 7:55AM right now. The fireworks have been going for an hour and a half. Ironically, if the Aztecs had this much gunpowder 490 years ago, no one would be celebrating Catholic saints here today.

The fireworks also serve a more earthly purpose: to wake up the guys who work the church bells and remind them there’s ringing to be done. Lot of ringing. Whereas in most other places, church bells signal the hour, or the half hour, or even the quarter hour, here they mean, “Check me out, I’m ringin’ a bell! And I ain’t stoppin’!”

The bells usually fade out about the time the garbage truck comes. People don’t put their garbage out the night before. Instead, the truck is preceded by a guy whose entire job is to walk down the street clanging together two pieces of metal as loudly as possible, to let people know it’s garbage time. It’s funny, the things you miss: 16 years in New York, and I always took those huge, festering piles of garbage lining the sidewalks overnight for granted. Now I think they’re just what this town needs.

1 comment:

Amiga del Lorax said...

nothing so lovely as double-paned windows.