Cinco de Mayo

Years ago, we were visiting my friend David in Oxnard and we headed downtown for Mexican food. Oxnard is one of those Southern California towns where Latin American immigrations has created its own dominant culture, and Mexican food in downtown Oxnard back then was really Mexican food, a string of restaurants in a neighborhood dominated by immigrants.

Before we went, David offered this warning: there will be Mariachi musicians, but they only warm up. They never play.

As we sat down to eat, a Mariachi walked in to the restaurant with his guitar, sliding into a booth by the door. He was resplendent, green with white piping down the side of his pants and that magnificent hat. He plucked a bit at his guitar and chatted with the waitresses. Then another, with a trumpet, blowing quiet and low. It was like this during the whole meal, with the players drifting in and out, picking out a few bars, chatting. When we left, they were standing out by a car on the street.

They only warmed up. They never played.