The technicians made the final adjustments to the lights and plugged Barbara Walters into the 220-volt outlet that was to power her during the pre-awards show interview. Barbara snapped into consciousness and, as attendants from the Museum of Natural History applied eyeliner and blush, a muy nervioso Mex in Manhattan smoothed the pleats in his AmeriKilt and rested his shaking manos on his lap.
It all had happened so fast; nomination for Best Screenplay, his life story … a box office smash, and Rosie O’Donnell on stilts doing an admirable job portraying the columnist-turned-screenwriter-turned-sex-god.
Fully-charged, Barbara unleashed a torrent of preguntas designed to rattle Mex in Manhattan and prompt him to dissolve into the chorro of tears that the pre-awards-show audience
At first, Mex in Manhattan sailed through the Inquisición Electronica.
Are you gay?
“All the time, except when I run out of Mexican Cokes; then I am sad.”
Have you ever had a three-way?
“Well, my thighs and stomach are rubbing together right now, does that count?”
Then, an archaeologist lifted Barbara’s arm so she could tuck her hand under her chin and stare with those “I’m gonna get you sucka” eyes.
“Are you,” she paused for effect and because there was a momentary dip in the electrical circuit, “Are you, Mex in Manhattan, afraid of
As the mechanism operating Barbara’s limbs allowed her to lean closer, Mex in Manhattan got a whiff of Chanel No. 5, frayed wiring, and overheating circuit boards, realizing much too late that La Barbara had unearthed the one pregunta guaranteed to make him cry.
He blubbered an answer as tears mixed with mocos and television makeup carved Nazca lines into his face. “I was a niño, Barbara; it was Sunday breakfast at my abuelita’s house on a hot summer day. Someone left a tube of biscuits out in the heat. When Mami banged it against the table, the tube exploded with a wet, obscene plop and one biscuit flew across the kitchen in a deadly arc, landing on the tip of my grandmother’s finger. We were stunned. Even the frijoles stopped bubbling in their olla. That biscuit had almost killed my beloved abuelita. She burst into laughter and mi familia joined in. Except for me. I was horrified. Who knew, Barbara, that biscuits could maim, injure, and possibly kill? As a celebrity, I will fight for that cause,” he bleated through a fresh torrent of lagrimas.
“Yes, Barbara, I am terrified of biscuits; the Texas-Style Buttermilk, the Grands Butter Tastin’, and even the Hill Country Jumbos that
H-E-B sometimes has on special.”
“Barbara,” he sniffled, “I dread opening the tube. I peel the wrapper and run. I press a spoon against the tube and run. I tap it against the kitchen counter and run as I think, a la chingada, that thing is going to get my finger just like abuelita.”
Barbara is offered proof of biscuits’ power to destroy, pulverize, and annihilate; a warning label from a tube of Pillsbury Golden Layers: “CAUTION: Contents under pressure. To ensure safety while opening, always point can ends away from you and others.”
Barbara, in her electronic sympathy, wept a tear of eyeliner, motor oil, and embalming fluid. Just then another nominee, Gael García Bernal, entered the green room with a very large basket … of biscuits. In a throaty Mexican movie star accent, he offered one to Mex in Manhattan.
At that moment, his cue to accept the award flowed from Eva Longoria’s mouth. Leaving Barbara awash in sobs and at risk of a short circuit, he rose, brushed biscuit crumbs from his kilt, and strode toward the stage to accept his premio, realizing that when you have an irrational fear, every now and then you need someone like Gael García Bernal to pop your tube for you.
Mario is the author of The Chalupa Rules: A Latino Guide to Gringolandia.
Chalupa Rule no. 12
Confess your irrational fears;
you might get Barbara Walters
to cry on cue.
Confiesa tus miedos irracionales,
quizas harás chillar a la