AS THE TACO TURNS
(And takes the world with it)
By Beth Berube
Come on Baby, Light My Fire
The word Mexico is derived from an ancient Mayan word meaning “all night celebration using explosives.” I happen to be a foreigner who loves Mexican firework festivals. There is a wonderful shindig each year in the Melaque town square on St. Patrick’s Day. There are plenty of activities like parades and rodeos but the main attraction is the lighting of the Castillo.
The Castillo is the evil clown of all fireworks displays. It is a sequoia tower with layers of pinwheels. A flame runs up the fuse lines which set fiery pyrotechnic events into motion. The euphoric crowd expects to see people set on fire. That is what makes this event so much fun.
There are no disclaimer warnings nailed to the structure. There are no lawyers hiding in bushes waiting to pass out their cards to flaming victims. The fuses are lit and fire continues its upward journey, pinwheels spinning, making a hellish shrieking noise.
Young boys with cardboard shields over their heads, dodge burning chunks of debris. This spectacle is nothing like the Shamu Show of Seaworld where you can seat yourself out of the “splash zone.” Hair scorching, crotch-seeking, flaming projectiles spray the crowd in all directions. This is truly an event the whole family will enjoy.
One year, there was an amusement park set up behind the plaza with lots of kiddy rides. My girlfriend and I decided to try out Tilt-A-Whirl. It slams you back and forth while frantically gyrating and doesn’t end until your head falls off. I could feel the loose skin on my face being hideously flattened and pressed to one side. Finally, the discombobulating ride ended and we were allowed to disembark our death cab with all the six-year-olds. Susan and I were clutching each other trying to regain our equilibrium.
The carnie ride started again before we had a chance to clear out onto the midway area. The whirling bucket passed inches from my head. None of the mothers seemed to be the least bit concerned. They were smiling and waiting while their agile progeny sidestepped the cabs like seasoned boxers slipping punches. In this country awareness is not legislated. It is learned.
If your IQ is lower than a taco and the Tilt-A-Whirl kicks your ass, you better learn to duck the next time.