My friend Richard and I have known each other since middle school, and we have been friends since he was MEChA royalty and I was part of the Ecology Club. We were at that stage of life when we were angry at the United States for its participation in the Mexican-American War. We shared a physics teacher and a common pool of friends. However as time went by, that pool of friends began to shrink until now — where it is just Richard and me.
We meet at least once a month to break bread and share current events. It was during one of these meals that we discovered the inevitable: we were becoming our fathers.
At first the symptom, were slight and could only be seen with the right pair of eyes. We started complaining about the prices. We harked back to the bad old days in 1997, when Everclear ruled the musical charts and Big Macs were 99 cents; the person behind the counter could care less as she asks for the $4. I often kid Richard about being stuck in that 90s pricing mentality; I relish in breaking it to him that you can no longer get a value meal for $3.
Then I noticed the next sign of the progression. I now carry napkins everywhere I go with no better reason than you never know when they will come in handy. I think the next step is to start carrying ketchup and salsa packets in my pockets. You never know when you are going to cross paths with a Burger King Whopper. As far as Richard is concerned, nothing was sadder and yet more comical than watching him attempt to make payment with the automated kiosk set up at a fast food restaurant. He looked so helpless as it continuously asked him to swipe his credit card, yet he looked at the machine as if it was asking him for the square root of his social security number. I remembered my dad looking the same way the first and last time he had to tangle with an ATM machine.
I do not know when it happened, but we went from closing down bars and after parties to trying to race home in order to catch “Modern Family.” However, I know it is getting worse, because there are times where Richard and I argue, even though we might be on the same side. We will both argue over which one of us likes the McRib, not more mind you, but the actual of liking the sandwich. It absolutely blows my mind because it is something I watched my father do when he was still alive. I watched my father argue with his friends about Mario being the superior Almada brother over Fernando — even though no one argued the fact with him.
Growing older has snuck up on me and my friend. We still sit around arguing as I realize our youthful values have been put on an iceberg and set afloat. We are not the same Chicanos we once were. I think it is fair to say that we have gone from Mexican-Americans to American-Mexicans. We have gone from idolizing Che Guevara to wondering if our contemporary political standings are too far to the left, too far to the right or even too far in the middle. However no matter how far we lean, we both know the pool is not getting any bigger.
[Photo By lisaschaefferphoto]