Where’s Gualdo?

When we travel with snakes, we bring a mallet. TJ insists on this in case they mutiny. Whoever holds the mallet must be brave enough to enforce human superiority with the mallet’s omnipotent rubber head.

Interested in keeping your face? Then, put the snake and the metaphor back in the bag.

Climbing into our Fit, TJ announced, “I’m driving. You take the first watch.”

I kept a decorative eye on the critter boxes.

Behind us, inside the purple box, two descendants of Cleopatra’s favorite bracelet hissed.

Inside the blue-blanketed box spazed Junior.

A third of the way through our three-hour journey, TJ, who brags that she is the world’s most snake-phobic creature, quit compulsively looking in the rearview mirror.

“I’ll take the mallet,” she said. “You drive.”

We switched seats in a Jack in the Box parking lot.

The mallet remained in her clutches for ten seconds. In her boredom, it slithered onto the floor.

She got out her phone.

She texted.

She ate fries.

The snakes in the fries went unnoticed.

She yawned.

The snake in the fries yawned.

I looked out the window, at a horse ranch.

I watched a stallion that I thought had a monstrous, yellow erection correct me as his pee hit the ground.

TJ relinquished her title.

We stopped to get her a celebratory, Aztec tattoo.

At my parents’, we handed off the reptiles to my bro.

My dad grabbed my earlobe and tossed me through my ranch-style childhood home’s front door. The family room couch cushioned my landing.

“Your uncle Gualdo had a walk-on role in a Cheech and Chong movie,” Dad explained, “but since your uncle Gualdo’s dead, we can’t ask him which one. I’ve been watching every Cheech and Chong movie I can get my hands on to find Gualdo. Today, we’re looking for him in a Chongless film, Born in East L.A. Help me find Gualdo!”

“Okay.” I tried to visualize what Gualdo looked like before he got lung cancer.

I pictured El bis. (Elvis)

Where’s Gualdo? (Hint: he’s the one folding origami into a flea.)

Dad fed his disc into the DVD player, and a couple of minutes in, Lupe Ontiveros warmed the screen. She plays the main character’s, Rudy’s, mom. About five weeks ago, she died a few days before Abuelita.

This summer has been a bummer on so many fronts.

We watched Lupe feed Rudy and him to fetch his stupid Mexican cousin Javier from a toy factory. Rudy goes but forgets his wallet by Lupe’s Jesus hologram.

As Rudy swaggers into the sweatshop, la migra ninjas in. An agent racially profiles Rudy as wet, takes him into custody, and eighty-sixes him from his homeland.

“The same thing happened to your cousin Alex, the Marine!” said Dad. “He got deported, just like Rudy!”

We watched Rudy disguise himself as a nopal and try sneaking from Tijuana into his own home.

It was like I was watching a replay of my teen years.

Alex, you can take off the mask now. Nobody is going to hurt you. Unless they get HUNGRY!

Uncle Gualdo never strolled through Born in East LA, which means that if you need to find me, just listen for the sounds of Mexploitation. My father and I will be near.

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