As a result, I'm newly determined in the New Year to get back in the saddle, literally, hopefully with some jumper cables, a quart of motor oil, and a new hot gal (let a pig have his fantasy!).
Maybe it's just the fact that I'm fresh back from the border, but I'm ready to check out a Mexican dive, and I think I know just the place — a joint near the airport called the Taxi Inn that I stumbled past, a while back, when taking the back way to Sky Harbor, typically late for a flight. I find it again, looking suitably dangerous, on the southwest corner of Washington and 24th streets. It appears abandoned, probably closed due to the light-rail mess, but sure enough, there's a Bud sign glowing, so there must be life inside.
For my protection (due to my depleted testosterone) I bring along a petite cochon (French for little pig) whose nickname is Mouse — and, yes, she speaks French. She was once a figure skater, and I figure what the hell: Maybe she'll go all Tonya Harding on someone's ass if things get weird. Truth is, before this jaunt to a Mexican dive, I'd never met Mouse, so this could be considered a first date, blind date, or, uh, last date. From the looks of the place as we pull up, I'm thinking the latter.
At any rate, Taxi Inn is on the corner, next to a palm reader/fortune teller who reportedly dishes out mystic advice for only $3. Mouse lights up at the idea of stopping in for a reading — maybe she'll hear a story about running away with a booze pig to a house made of bricks where she'll live happily ever after! But no . . . No "reading" on this trip. (Like I said, I'm working on those testosterone levels, and palm-reading is right up there with pedicures and white wine spritzers.)
There's still a bunch of light-rail barricade slop, so Mouse and I pull in the alley to look for the surefire secret back entrance. What we find is a dark, seedy lot with a big, broken old satellite dish, graffiti, and light beaming from an open door blaring Mexican music. We throw her purse in the trunk and I think to myself, "Hell, it can't be that bad. It's only 6 p.m. on a Thursday night — early enough to be safe from late-night slobbering madness."
Not knowing is exciting — and a tad scary — especially for two gringos entering a working-class Mexican joint during a time of turbulent, botched immigration reform. Well, our fears are quickly quelled as we walk across the threshold into a huge room with sparkling, cheap white tile lit up by 1,000-watt bulbs. The place is cavernous, with three nice pool tables in the back, a big space that must be used as a dance floor, with some scattered tables and a spotless long black bar with a gorgeous red rail running the length of it. There are three Mexican guys playing pool, and an old guy named José tending bar in a colorful Southwestern cowboy shirt.
Just like out of a (bad) movie, the place goes silent for a couple of long seconds, and everyone stops what they're doing to check us out. But everyone returns to their drinks, and we sit down to the business at hand.
Mouse and I take two spots at the empty bar and order a pair of Jack and gingers, por favor. José seems eager to please, but there's no hiding our disappointment when we find that they don't serve hard liquor — not even tequila! Disappointment is an understatement; "crushed" is more accurate.
But there's Bud on tap and some other beers in a home-style refrigerator behind the bar. Jose senses our unease and quickly materializes two Bacardi Silver Mojito malt beverage Zima-like drinks (maybe he somehow knew that I wrote a resolution on paper and wished it true by burning it in a fire with three enlightened women in Mexico). I figure, this place doesn't have booze, so it already sucks in my book —might as well make it really blow with these two sugar treats. We both pucker as the weak, milky white fluid hits our palates.
We make small talk and I take in the great dive qualities I can find. There's an awesome, tacky wood-framed poster of Traci Lords on one wall. A porn star in a hardwood frame is fantastic wherever you encounter it . . . Did I just say hard wood?! I digress.
The place also has soccer posters and several pics of J.C. and the Virgin Mary; at least we're safe from evil spirits. There's even a collage of shitty photos, which is, of course, fun to peruse. Upon further inspection there's not a single shot of a white person.
I kindly ask José if he gets many gringos in the place. He gives a sly smile and says coyly, "One or two." Mouse laughs and looks at me. She slowly points to herself and says, "One." Then she points at me and whispers, "Two." We all laugh and I figure I'm going to like this Mouse plenty. Time to saddle up and go look for some cheese.