The small, cracked parking lot is over capacity but I miraculously find an illegal spot just on the cusp of bustling North Thompson. I squeeze out of my car, traverse the patchwork pavement, and enter the doors to Guanajuato, one of my favorite taquerias in the High South. I'm the only white person in the place, but I feel at home, welcomed by friendly nods and the perfumes of earthy maize, roasted peppers, and charred meat.
Still shedding gloves, scarf, and coat a quiet, but confident Mexican girl donning an apron approaches my booth to ask what I would like to drink - I motion toward the glass front cooler teeming with cerveza, and say "I was going to grab a Negra Modelo if you'll bring me a couple limes.."
"I'll get it," she says. "See the sign.." Which sounds more like "sit your stupid ass down...and read the fucking sign, asshole.." and sure enough - clearly spelled out in BOTH Spanish and English there's a handwritten sign that reads: Please wait for your waitress to give you your beer.
My friend Amber arrives just as I squeeze a perfectly green lime wedge into the dark bottle - sprays of citrus land on my knuckle and onto the table - little bits of micro pulp await at the very top - licking my lips, I take a long, hard pull as she slides in across from me. I tell her she should help herself to a beer - "I'm working," she says. "I don't drink at lunch..." I shrug, and take another very dramatic drink followed by an "Ahhhhh..."
It's been a while since we've seen one another, so over chips and queso blanco we start with social niceties of "How's your Job.."? and "Are you enjoying your new venture?" and "How's your boyfriend?" and "Good, good...how's your significant other.?" Chip Chip, Dip Dip..."oh, really - how nice!"
However, by the time my Al Pastor Burrito and her Chicken Tacos arrive we have completely circumnavigate the small talk and cut right to the chase - GOSSIP. Like co-captains of a knitting club outside of Mayberry or Mount Pilot, we lower the gauntlet and shovel the dish until we're over our heads in salacious material. "Are you kidding me?" and "Holy shit, she did what?" and "I know, filthy filthy filthy..." and even "well, Milk, Milk, Lemonade..."
It's cathartic I suppose - no harm done - half of every statement is prefaced with "Now don't you say anything" or "seriously, keep your big mouth SHUT..?" so, it's a testament to true friendship supported by the bits and pieces that are almost as delicious as the ones in our burrito and tacos.
Post Script - The rumor is true. I will be joining my friend Amber for a ZUMBA Class soon - followed by...Gossip PIZZA?