I Am Great at Talking to People I Don't Know

December 16, 2009
I really am an absolute dime when it comes to talking to people I do not know. Whether this is a Black, middle aged women in the check out line, who wants to only talk about the misuse of over qualified teachers at the high school level, or a Hispanic man of about sixty, who sells candy on the street corners of Pilson and can barely speak a word of English, I can handle anything. In fact, I may be even better at talking to the unknown people of the world than I am talking to the people I see everyday.

Turn this over in your mind; I am in the middle of a mainly Latin neighborhood right outside Chicago. I have been dropped off by my Spanish teacher, and was abandoned there. Now, don’t worry. I was definitely traveling in a pack, a pack of awfully pale, white kids from Central Illinois. This neighborhood, which looked like it may have seen its better day, needless to say scared us a little bit. My group, from now on I will refer to us as the wolf pack, was in dire need of some nourishment.

We had been told on the charter bus we took their, that the place to eat was Nuevo Leon. And that is where we planned to feast on the culturally diverse food that was promised to us. However, that was not in the books. We tried and tried again to get into this infamous restaurant. But, there was no way. The wolf pack happened to get there directly after a group of sixty eighth graders from god knows where, got in line in front of us. There was no way we could surpass this kind of a challenge.

That’s right about when a women, named Marisol, I would say age twenty seven and her mother set out to eat at this same restaurant. They, like us, were turned away. And that is when I pounced. I hit them right as they left the door, disappointed in their failed endeavor; they were vulnerable and eager to help. Of course they knew the nearest restaurant, and of course they were willing to talk to the nice girl with a hat that looked like an owl on her head.

So, we set off. The journey to this mystery eatery was short but informative. The pack and I found out that it was Marisol’s birthday, her sister had just had twin girls, Precious and Priscilla, and that they were willing to let me, and only me, go back to their house and party. What the definition of party meant to them, I have no idea. As we arrived at our sought after eating place, the adventure had only begun.

The wolf pack and I split into two groups of eight. The restaurant, whose name is still a mystery to me, was ecstatic that we were there. So happy, in fact, that as soon as we sat down, we were informed that we would be receiving free desserts. Did this make us want to jump out of our skin with excitement? Bingo baby, of course it did. Along with the free dessert we were also treated to some delicious bean dip. But sadly, that was about the end of our good karma.

The menus were full of some what strange sounding dishes. So I, being the sheltered girl that I am, opted for the safe enchiladas. I had their enchiladas built up to be the best thing I was going to ever eat. I was sure Bobby Flay would be knocking on their door wanting to throw down anytime. But, I have never been so wrong. They would have been decent, maybe even good, had it not been for the mole sauce. This spicy sweet traditional enchilada sauce was piled on to my plate, by someone with the heaviest saucing hand ever made by God himself. This dark brown mush was almost flowing over the edges of my plate. Not only was it in mass quantities, but it tasted awful. Imagine please, a stale chocolate bar mixed with salsa, and some unidentifiable flavor.

My devastating meal was not the end to my disappointment. I was briefly perked up when the wolf pack decided to sing a beautiful rendition of happy birthday in Spanish for Marisol. The smile on her face was enough to satisfy me, and it quenched my never ending need to want to make people happy. I was raring to go for the free dessert, I kept my fingers crossed for a sopapilla. And what came out? I have no clue.

It would have very possibly been a sopapilla, but I could not tell. From my culinary expertise, which is slim to none, I could make out a tortilla with cinnamon on it. And not just a light dusting of cinnamon, which would have been pleasing to my palette, but possible a spoon full of cinnamon per inch of tortilla. The tortilla was then topped with some vanilla sauce or syrup, I am not sure which one, and some overly sweet ice cream. This, and the fact that each plate had to be split between four people, did not make me want to jump for joy. But I thanked the waiter, and left. Leading my wolf pack back down the streets of Pilson into the arms of whoever would take us.

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