Two years ago when the election for Governor of our State was going
on, I wrote this memoir, and now it seems to fit right in for this election; so read on, my Friends.
NO PUBLIC OFFICE FOR ME MELITAS FORSTER
With the recent elections just behind us, I have been thinking that perhaps I should run for some public office. Right off the bat, however, I ruled out Congress, or the Senate, or even President because I would never put myself in a position to have to endure the winters in Washington D.C. If they were to transfer the Capitol to California, I would definitely be interested and give it some very serious thought. I am a home-grown Orange County- kind- of gal, and have never shoveled one ounce of snow – lots of ice cubes, though, in my day. I could set my sights on running for the La Quinta City Council; more exactly, the Mayor’s position might be to my liking. Or I could run for County Supervisor, or even County Tax Collector would be nice. As far as the State is concerned, I know I could help in the Assembly or Senate. My brain is only running on 4 out of 8 cylinders, but that appears to be more than ample gray matter for those positions. Governor should be considered also, while I’m at it. I would have to round up a campaign committee, and my very first Rule of the campaign would be that there would be no mud-slinging coming out of my camp. My opponents can do all the bad-mouthing they want if that’s what makes them happy and feel good about themselves. I would not rebut them by revealing their errors in judgment like cheating on the wife or husband, as the case may be, or that they had smoked pot – but didn’t inhale- or had been slapped with a DUI, or they hadn’t paid their taxes, and on and on and on. I will just stick to the facts and tell the people what I stand for, and how I will do my best to correct the problems that we face in government —–and there are plenty of outrageous problems. So there is plenty of stuff to talk about without dragging the transgressions and dumb decisions of my opponents into the fray.
Remember that old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” well both State and National governments are really broke and desperately need fixing. And that is putting it mildly. I feel, with all my years of experience, I could possibly come up with some common sense ideas to help.
But wait a darn minute — all of sudden out of the blue a memory appeared that has dropped like an atomic bomb to forever shut me out of running for a public office.
Back in 1966, I bought the México Lindo restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. It was located on the little side street next to the railroad depot.
It was very popular, the food was very tasty and widely received, the Margaritas were world renowned; we had six Mariachis playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, and then they would leave for their homes in Tijuana or Tecate, to return on the following Friday. The building was 2-story, and I remember when the family built it in the 1930’s. A Basque couple with 2 kids, a boy and girl. The wife, Prudencia, often worked for my Aunt Mae as housekeeper and cook. The second floor was spacious as their living quarters — huge living room across the front of the building with dining area, then a kitchen, 4 bedrooms, and bath. They operated the first floor as a run-of-the-mill small restaurant, and pretty soon Dr. Sparkle (his real name) came along and bought the property and added a huge dining room on the west side of the building, and named it the “México Lindo Restaurante Extraordinario,” but it was more popularly known as just the “México Lindo.”
The Mariachis used 2 of the bedrooms on weekends — 2 of them had local girlfriends whom they bunked with. I used one of the bedrooms as office — furnished with a desk, a floor safe, and an adding machine. I can hear my audience — if there is one — getting all bent out of shape and wondering what all this México Lindo story has to do with “No Public Office.” If you were counting, you would have figured out that 3 of the 4 upstairs bedrooms were occupied, and this is the crux of the story coming up.
Graciela was the cook who came with the purchase — she was great, but she had other plans for her future; and so, with my approval, she was teaching a young Mexican girl all her “secret” recipes for the taco meat, the chile rellenos, the chile verde, the Albondigas soup, etc. — the entire menu in order to take over. Elena, who may have been 20 years old, maybe….. took that 4th bedroom upstairs, and was elevated to chief cook, and all was well on Verdugo Street in San Juan Capistrano.
In the meantime, I have to bring in another player to this little saga — Eddie, was a sales clerk at my liquor store around the corner on the main drag, Camino Capistrano. When he finished his shift at the liquor store, he would often drop by to hang out with Elena in the kitchen, yakking away, as he would help her clean up and close off the kitchen for the night — they were just great pals, no romance involved.
One Sunday night, much to my consternation, the BORDER PATROL appeared on the horizon — two officers in their military-green patrol vehicle — and very politely removed my precious cook, packing her up with all her worldly possessions, which included a huge life-sized, stuffed Teddy Bear…… and that’s the picture I have when they were driving away with my Elena, with such a forlorn, teary-eyed look and Teddy Bear, bigger than life sitting beside her in the back seat with her stuff piled high around her. I was nonplussed to say it nicely. And there was Eddie stepping up to the plate to address the problem, telling me that he would have her back the next morning. Indeed he had her back Monday morning in time to start her shift for the lunch hour…..with Mr. Teddy Bear in tow.
Several months passed, and the Border Patrol would show up once in awhile — always on a Sunday night after the kitchen was closed, and they would cart off my Elena , and Eddie would go retrieve her and have her back the following Monday morning along with Teddy Bear. At some point, I thought I’d better go to Tijuana so I would know where to find her, just in case…. So the next time the Border Patrol showed up, Eddie went with me in my ‘67 Cadi to show me where her home was. It was several miles to the east from downtown Tijuana, past the old horse-racing venue, into an area of poverty-stricken shacks, dirt floors — the whole “enchilada,” so to speak. After that rescue mission, I came up with a plan to end all this back and forth scene. Eddie’s tires were probably wearing thin, so here’s what I told him: “Eddie. you are going to marry Elena — no ifs, ands or buts — and the sooner, the better ……..for ALL concerned.
Eddie quickly agreed probably being fearful that I would fire him from the liquor store if he didn’t. ( I swear I did not even hint of such a possibility, even though it did cross my mind that I did have that ace in the hole in case I ran into any hurdles.) Also, he realized he would really not be supporting her — that would be a part of the “prenuptual.” Elena was most agreeable. At this point she had a boyfriend, and he was not very legal either. So it turned out to be a marriage of convenience for the good of the Mexico Lindo, not exactly made in heaven, but by a very determined boss who was sick and tired of the BORDER PATROL interrupting business as usual, and having to face the sight of Mr Teddy Bear leaving one more time.
So Elena, with boyfriend as best man, and Eddie with his bald tires went off to Santa Ana for a license, and there they were joined in matrimony.
Somehow, I don’t think the judge mentioned “holy.”
I knew everything would end up like the last page of a good novel. My brilliant answer to the dilemma made me extremely proud. Eddie was happy with a raise in salary, and I had known he was gay all along. Elena was happy, she had moved in with the boyfriend, and didn’t have to pack up her precious Mr. Teddy Bear, alleviating a lot of wear and tear from all those trips back and forth across the border. Through all this I never did know the name she had for him.
I now had a legal cook. Life was good.
Now 40 or 50 years later, 10 or 12 years into the new millenium, there I would be running a very nice, clean campaign for Governor — remember, no mud- or sex-slinging, and I have won all the debates, mainly because I could put my opponent to sleep while droning on and on, and he has hopelessly lost his train of thought. I am comfortably ahead by at least 10 points in the popularity polls. Life is good.
And whaddya know, somehow from out of nowhere, some smart ass in the enemy camp has dug up that old scenario from the México Lindo. I am immediately called a criminal for having aided and abetted an illegal immigrant, and crossed over, not just a state border, but a National Border, sneaking her into California from México.
I can feel the Huevos Rancheros* sliding down my face and landing on my chic campaign ensemble.
Life is now ROTTEN, and for sure there is NO PUBLIC OFFICE FOR ME. Not in this lifetime…..
Translation for English only readers:
*Huevos rancheros = Translation for all the gringos** = EGGS, Mexican style.
** gringos = Translation: = All the peoples who do not understand Español.***
***Español = Spanish
To this day, I have always wondered why the BORDER PATROL only showed up on Sunday nights, and not on a Friday or Saturday when the place was jumping. It would have killed us to witness the scene of Elena exiting the premises in the midst of the dinner hour, along with Mr. Teddy Bear — looking more bedraggled than ever. And, for sure, life would have been much, much more rotten. However, for all I know the B. P. may have shown up and they couldn’t find a parking place.
November 10, 2010.