Commentary #16 (of 28): THE MARIACHI

MariachiEvery so often (weekly at the moment), I’ll be writing a commentary about a story from EMPTY ROOMS LONELY COUNTRIES. I’ll tackle the stories in the order they appear in the book. Given the nature of this exercise, I cannot guarantee that I won’t spoil specific details from the story. So you may want to return to the commentaries here when you’ve finished reading the book. If I don’t address an aspect of the story you were interested in, by all means leave a question at the end of this post and I’ll do my best to answer it.


This story happened on December 4, 2002.

Before the knock on the door, Sondra was telling us about the Mariachi.

The Mariachi represents True Love. True. Love. The Mariachi whispers poetry into her ear at dawn when the light isn’t quite ready to reveal the details. The Mariachi is golden and full of love. The Mariachi is redemption: one kiss, one touch, the guilt melts away in the heat of a liberating orgasm. The Mariachi, though a myth to most, is her ticket to happiness…at least, that’s how Sondra puts it. She swears by him. When she speaks of him, the gravity in her eyes disappears. And it isn’t that we don’t believe her or that we couldn’t relate, it wasn’t that all; we were just too drunk to give it much thought.

By this time I was living in South Tampa with Derrek, the ex-editor from City Style. We had an apartment that was within spitting distance of some of the best bars and restaurants the area had to offer. This put a strain on our wallets, and inevitably, our belts. Despite that, I really enjoyed the two years I lived in South Tampa.

Our apartment was within twenty feet of the Dubliner, though when we originally moved in it was the notorious Captain’s Galley. The difference between these two establishments is night and day, and though the Dubliner was the superior bar, I have to admit that the surliness and unpredictability of the Captain’s Galley created a lot more opportunities for Fun and Drama.

As usual, the events in the story happened as written, only I inserted a Barthelmesque what if? at the end with the appearance of the Mariachi. When the story was happening, all of us drunk in the living room, Sondra going on and on about this mariachi she had met, I kept thinking, how funny would it be if a mariachi knocked on the door right now? What would happen next?

Derrek opens the door. The Mariachi is standing there in a silver charro suit and holding a vihuela; he’s glowing, made of moonlight. In the distance, a violin is playing. There’s music everywhere actually. He extends his hand to Sondra. She’s giggling. She steps forward and takes his hand. He’s shorter than she is, but she’s obviously okay with that. Now she’s laughing; her happiness is pouring out of her. You’d get a buzz if you were close enough to her. The Mariachi gives us a nod and closes the door.

Not sure what else I can write about here. I like this one quite a bit. Considering how downbeat the book has a tendency to be at times, I find the hopefulness and talk of love to be a refreshing change of pace.

With that said, this story also introduces the book’s second love interest. We’ll see how that one goes.

On Wednesday I’ll post the recording of “The Mariachi”.

Next week: “$24.99”

Previous commentaries:

#1 “Cowboys and Indians”
#2 “Little Conundrums”
#2.5 “Playing With the Dead”**
#3 “The Illusion of Swing”
#4 “Kicking Love’s Ass”
#5 “On Being Velma-less”
#6 “Muted Porn”
#7 “Defying Gravity”
#8 “The Fifth Ocean”
#9 “One Dead (Potted) Plant”
#10 “Remembering Drajra”
#11 “Pancakes, Wishes and Other Tales”
#12 “Maintaining”
#13 “Before Waking”
#14 “Re:Flux”
#15 “This is Not for You”