At the end of a long day with Teresa and Sisto and, of course, my wife, a long day of laughing, and eating, and drinking, then laughing some more, the four of us piled into my rental car, a Ford Fusion, and drove to Tino's, just about two miles from Teresa's and around the block from Estadio Francesco I. Madura.
We parked the car on the gravel and the four of us slowly got out of the upholstery. We had all seen better days and, I'll admit, it took us no short amount of time to navigate the 12 or 18 feet from the parking lot, up to the porch and into the restaurant.
Further, as so often happens after I fly, my back is "out." Meaning I can do nothing, absolutely nothing, not even throwing coins at an old enameled saucepan without more than my fair share of pain. The worst of the pain comes from getting up and sitting down, and so, getting out of the Ford was a bit of a trial.
The four of us walked slowly past the Christmas decorations to the right of Tino's front door and we quickly found a booth that was just right for us.
Tino came out from behind the counter, took off his apron and, after kissing Teresa and Gulliermo, and hugging me and my wife, brought over a straight back chair and sat with us as one of his grand-daughters brought over a pitcher of beer and five glasses.
Tino ordered five chicken dinners--approximately enough food for the entire Mexican army, and in short order, the heaping plates of chicken and rice and vegetables and hot sauce and who knows what else was placed in front of us and we began, like Ferdinand de Lesseps in Panama, digging a trench in our victuals, hoping to make it to the other end.
The laughter and the drinking and the eating continued, with Tino summoning more beer and presiding over the gathering of old friends with a deep well of stories that brought up laughter from places inside us we no longer knew we had.
He recalled, specifically, the time when I was playing and the Saraperos were once again mired in a long slump.
"You had lost, I think five games in a row, and to hear Hector tell it, the worst part was you were all picking on each other, making each other worse, not better."
"I do not remember," Sisto said.
"I remember, it was from before you joined the club. Arufe attacked Buentello. Garibay had Adame in a headlock and Hector, well he just lost it."
Tino continued. "Ibarra said something about Batista's madre and Hector went loco. He picked up, in front of all the fans at Estadio, the first thing he could find and began swatting at Ibarra,"
"Never one of Hector's favorites," Sisto added, "He was traded to Torreon the next season."
"He swatted at Ibarra with a five pound bag of sunflower seeds that we used to eat in the dugout.
"All at once, the bag broke and 100,000 seeds flew all over home plate."
"That is when he called us all chicken fuckers," I said.
We laughed and laughed and drank and drank and dug our way through our meals.
We finished at midnight.
For four hours, my back didn't hurt.