After John Waters learned Mike Kelley had kelled himself (that sounds artsier and better than killed himself and Kelley’s suicide was as multimedia as his art so, in a way, he did kell himself), H20s’ expressed this opinion: “Like everybody, I’m completely shocked. He was my favorite living artist. I really hate that I have to change that category now.”
I really hate that I now have to change the category of favorite uncle living south of the border since my favorite weirdo occupying this role flew to heaven on Mexican mother’s day.
This is him, Alvaro, pointing at a picture of his mom, my abuelita, on the day she quit breathing. Notice the radishes. Those garnished pozole for the living.
Here’s Alvaro sitting beside the grave that they lowered Abuelita and her coffin into. He got lowered into that same place today.
I’m bummed, bummed, bummed that I couldn’t go to help put Alvaro with his mom and dad and use my hand to cover him with dirt, I would’ve patted it with kindness he taught me and maybe whispered a joke to him. Instead, what I’m going to do is write a list of things about him that are crumbs and souvenirs.
Recuerdo de FRIENDS: Alvaro was into Courtney Cox. He explained to me that she seemed like a lady who took really good care of herself and that he wouldn’t have minded owning an autographed picture of her. Also, the way that he pronounced Courtney Cox created a new language that was horrible, beautiful, and avuncular. Imagine, in the voice of my uncle in your head, a Mexican male spinster birthing a new language through the destruction of the syllables that make up Courtney Cox.
Recuerdo de La Cama: When Abuelito was dying, he and Alvaro slept in the same bed. He woke up one Mexican morning to find his dad dead beside him, but I think that sleeping beside somebody as they are dying is the nicest thing any son can do. To make a body feel less lonely in the weirdest of moments is the tenderest expression of tenderest expressions.
Recuerdo de Zapopan: Zapopan is where a little, miracle-working virgin carved out of tortillas lives in a basilica that is visited by popes and the pigeons who poop on them. It’s also where police arrested Laura Zúñiga, a former Miss Mexico, at a military checkpoint. The poe-lease caught her riding in a vehickle stuffed with assault rifles, hella bullets, hella handguns, hella swarthy male companions, and fifty three thousand dollars. When asked what she and her paisas were up to, the pretty lady explained that she was on her way to Colombia to do some shopping. The yuletide season that this narca was nabbed, Alvaro and my parents and I, too, were hanging out in Zapopan, ready to get our shrimp cocktail on, but before making out with our mariscos, we wandered a tianguis and admired the nativity artesanias that vendors had set on blankets, cobblestones, and dirt. The thing with nativity sets is that they grow. You might start with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, a scraggly fig tree, and an angel, but then, as your wealth grows, and you are able to shop more and more in Colombia, you add sheep, cacti, snakes, angels, hay, half a dozen burros, a hibiscus bush, a doe, a manger surrounded by an electric fence, more sheep, more cacti, a bonus magi, an AK 47, and a back up Jesus. My parents are major proponents of the enhanced and customized nativity set. I’ve watched my parents’ nativity set blossom into something that now rivals the AIDS quilt and they gave me their taste for hoarding knick knackery and at the tianguis, I spied a piece of cardboard painted blue and green and pink. Chemically globs of something mother earth probably hates made an awkward hill with waterfall. An artisan had glued cloth hibiscuses and plastic venison to it in a way that made the glue a crucial feature of the landscape. I squatted and examined this pathetic piece of art. Alvaro went to the dude selling it and got his wallet out of his mom jeans. Did I mention he had about half a cent in there? He would buy things for people when he could not afford to shop in Colombia. He could not afford to shop anywhere.
Recuerdo de Palabras Que No Existen (there are probably supposed to be accents up in this recuerdo but I don’t have patience for accessories): Alvaro made up words and used them. I think its something in his family because my mom does the same thing. The last invention I remember him using was morible. In English, this made up word translates to dieable, as in, yes, you are now capable of dying. You may die and it’s okay because it’s your dying time. In his friend Susana’s living room, I watched Alvaro and his homegirl with Parkinson’s discuss who was morible and who was not, and they chuckled and debated as they put people into the category, or took them out, and since Alvaro died as old as my favorite living American uncle, he certainly was not morible.
Recuerdo de Donas: Alvaro was a straight up lover. A lover of people whether they were news anchors or numerologists or failed poets or rotting women with dementia. He was a pioneer in finding ways to express his Alvarish love, even if it was telling you that you were a viejita bonita and hugging you or teasing you about being a gringa wearing blue Doc Martens or insisting on delivering leftover donuts to your house because you might want a glass of milk before going to bed and a glass of milk before bed is dumb without a donut.
Recuerdo de Manos: Real men speak with their hands. Alvaro was the realest of men, speaking with his hands when necessary and when necessarier. Hands could always be introduced and hands could always make a better point and I remember him describing how his sister, Lulu, had helped give him injections when he began his cancer treatments. With his finger, he demonstrated her needle entering his pompis and screamed and Alvaro mimed how he told Lulu that it hurt and she protested, “It doesn’t hurt when I do it,” and then, with his hands, he compared the size of her pompis to his lack of pompis and the world was a better place for that.