Tacos (and surprises) Por Favor


Okay,  I can’t stop crying.  Not floods of tears, no, but it sure is coming in waves and doesn’t seem to stop.

I just left my friend’s son’s 18th birthday party.  It was sort of an impromptu event that I feel I helped facilitate.  It wasn’t that easy to produce and the cast of characters aren’t run-of-the-mill either.  No, far from it.

Lead character is of course the Birthday Boy, a little person struggling with well, if that’s not enough, compound being a dwarf with the self-loathing of all teenagers.  It’s a combustible combo.

Birthday Boy had recently confessed to his mother that his one big wish for his 18th was to be given a surprise party.   Now, for years Birthday Boy has longed to be reunited with his young childhood live-in housekeeper/babysitter and her kids, his childhood surrogate brother and sister.

That’s where I come in.  It’s where I came in 15 or so years ago when his mom and I first met as well.   That would probably be a whole different story for a whole different type of blog, but I will tell you a condensed version.  The babysitter/housekeepers, hers and mine, met either on the street or in a park.  We speak Spanglish so it’s sometimes hard to get the stories straight.  I kept hearing about their adventures by day, the babysitters taking our young kids to haggle in English for them at local yard sales that they called “yardas.”  Birthday Boy’s mother and I were destined to meet because we now shared the same extended family.  Good thing when we met, we instantly liked each other.

We sometimes traveled together in our big group, and I do mean big.   I have three kids and technically my friend has only the one, Birthday Boy.  But then there are his surrogate-siblings which makes three kids for her, and then, of course, the two extraordinary Mexican women.  Both babysitters are from Mexico.     At night, they liked to sleep all in a row – the babysitters and all of the kids — on the floor, like sardines in a can, old Third World country style, which our kids found hard to resist.   That meant my friend and I each got big beds to enjoy and stretch out in alone.

Because of a divorce (refer to someone else’s blog if you want to read about divorces), Birthday Boy and his mother have been estranged  from the babysitter and her kids for years now.  We have been planning or trying to plan this reunion for a few years but tonight, the night of the surprise party, it seemed, could be – just perfect.  Where I come in again, is to do the reconnecting.  My babysitter, my kids are now grown and living on their own, so I’ll just call her my housekeeper, has remained friends with Birthday Boy’s babysitter.    It wasn’t easy to pull off.  Consider Spanglish, transportation problems and all that, but we managed to pull it off.

I nearly fucked the whole surprise up by walking straight into Birthday Boy on the street with his dad just seconds before the big reveal.  I, who am usually militant about surprises, was spending time that I should have been driving, taking care of last minute details at home.  You see, I’m pathetically sentimental (but not organized) so I was printing out pictures of our gang back in the day. Had to find those pictures first, on beaches in happier carefree days.  Priceless pictures that I don’t recall taking or saving.  I was quick on my feet when I ran into Birthday Boy, summoning up old acting skills, I seemed truly surprised to run into him there. Next screw-up was him seeing his neighbors out of the corner of his eye ordering food at the counter.  He must have been thinking, What are the chances?  Like an alignment of the planets that only happens every few hundred years.  But that’s how the brain works in those moments just before a surprise; you notice some red flags but don’t register them until you hear the huge roar of “SURPRISE!”

Birthday Boy was delighted, could not have been happier, it showed in a huge smile pasted across his beautiful face the whole evening.  Of course, the Mexican contingency was tardy, muy tardy, sending me spinning into my usually flawless road-managing skills.  I was calling them over and over again on imaginary cell phone numbers (they have a tendency to leave key numbers missing when they write their phone numbers down)  My lesson in life is you can’t control the world and just as this was becoming my mantra, I noticed them rounding the corner, gathering themselves, balloons and presents piled high in their hands.  And that for me was when emotions started to build, turning quickly into full blown crying when Birthday Boy was  successfully reunited with his surrogate family.

Here will be my lame attempt at turning this into a restaurant review (of sorts).

The tacos might have been fine, I don’t know, I barely remember eating a cheese quesadilla.   The experience was magical.  Throw yourself a party at Taco’s Por Favor on 14th and Olympic in Santa Monica.  A casual space where you can afford to feed a lot of people.  And life is short, so keep those special people close to your heart by calling them on their imaginary cells phones and making that plan to get together.

Keep looking  for a review of where to find the best guacamole in Los Angeles, I will be talking about guacamole very soon.



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2 Responses to “Tacos (and surprises) Por Favor”

  1. cathy says:

    Where is a current photograph of birthday boy and/or a group shot from the party????????

  2. augie duke says:

    that was such an incredible story, to add to the food i hear it’s great…

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