Monday, September 21, 2009
Cosmic muffin seeking Indian blood
Just got back from five days in Albuquerque and came home with a favorite new minority: the Native American Indian.
They’re perfect. They’re historical underdogs. Their religious beliefs have a whimsical bent. And at this moment they are absolutely awash in riches.
What could be better?
I was grateful for an invitation to travel to Albuquerque to learn about the area golf and culture. The deal is they show me a great time and I write about it in hopes that my stories will help rain tourist dollars into the arid desert.
It is one of the enduring oddities of my life that in this these times of wage-earning desolation, many reputable promotional organizations are still eager to zoom guys like me around the world and wine and dine us in sumptuous fashion.
They call me because I have some outstanding credentials from some swank magazines that never fail to blind them to my insistence that I can make myself appear way more successful than I actually am.
Just this month, I’ve turned down invitations to travel to Vancouver, Nairobi, San Diego, Dubai, Cabo and Ireland.
Taking more than one or two a year, I figure, wouldn’t be fair to my long-suffering wife and I’d probably expire from all the excess.
As it is, my body is still detoxifying from gallons of free premium tequila and the reckless mounds of chile peppers that are still wreaking havoc on my dainty intestinal system.
With Albuquerque -- civic motto: “It’s a Trip” -- I’d picked well. Had a blast.
This wasn’t easy for a sensitive guy like me. I’m always stricken with a faint melancholy about going on these elaborate junkets while she stays home and tends to the fort. I surprised her with my confession to this.
“It’s true,” I said. “I always feel sort of guilty about leaving my family here while I’m off to fabulous resorts under the guise of so-called ‘work.’”
How do you deal with those feelings? she asked.
“The only way I can,” I said. “I make sure I have an absolute ball. I order my first drink as soon as the flight attendant brings the liquor cart down the aisle and I don’t stop partying until I come spinning down the baggage carousel back home.”
The only thing worse than being unworthy of such lavish hospitality would be to mope about being the lucky recipient of it all.
So I golfed, drank, puffed fine cigars, dined on Southwestern delicacies and spent five days acting like Caligula in a Tommy Bahama shirt.
Happily, so did the other eight or so trip attendees. We were a giddy group.
I’ve been on trips like that where the more ethically refined writers take careful notes, order small portions and primly refuse alcohol because they’re “on duty,” the nerds.
(Note: Aiming stinging insults at my more fastidious colleagues is fair game because, unlike us freelance party boys, they have full-time jobs and can afford professional counseling to recover from the jabs)
Had any of them been at dinner at the famous El Pinto Restaurant & Cantini, they would have asked host Jim Garcia about things like the chemical composition of the shots they were pouring from the $400 bottle of tequila.
Me, I asked how come every time I drank tequila in college I always wound up losing my pants.
Garcia speculated it was because I was drinking too much of it too fast. It happened just the way he said, but there had to be some other reason. Had to be.
Of course, with me the way to judge a land is by the people who settle it. In New Mexico, that meant those who’d abandoned the driven life that leads to so much sobriety and other sociopathic behaviors bedeviling modern man.
“Yep,” one resident said, “we’ve got a greater concentration of cosmic muffins than any place else in the country.”
It was said in a tone meant to disparage, I think, but to me it sounded like I’d found a home.
If a guy with zero income and zero ambition to alter that condition can still opt to live like a king isn’t a cosmic muffin who on earth is?
I was thinking about this as an Navajo Indian serenaded us with a ceremonial flute over a fine dinner at the Corn Maiden restaurant at the splendid Hyatt Regency Tamaya.
He told us Indians (and they aren’t as PC about the word as the rest of us) believe Mother Earth imbues even the lowliest of creatures with some elemental holiness.
The revelation resulted in me nearly wrecking my golf cart the next morning to spare the spirit of dung beetle scurrying across the cart path.
He told us about the historical cruelties my white devil ancestors visited upon his race. It made me sad to think that at one time he and I would have just as soon killed each other as have the friendly conversation we were enjoying.
I doubt it would do much to sooth the restless souls of his vanquished ancestors, but congressional mostly white men have in the past 20 years eased our collective consciences by granting the Native Americans gambling licenses to open the lucrative casinos that dot the landscape.
“The casino money means every child that wants to can go to college for free. All our needs are met.”
I was sold.
I asked what I needed to do to become a member of his tribe, if I need to take a class or endure some sort of ritual hazing.
“There’s nothing you can do. You need to be born into the tribe.”
I wasn’t wanted?
“Perhaps you could try the Hispanics.”
Any minority race flush with casino riches out there looking for a cosmic muffin who’s willing to learn a card trick or two?