The call of cow


AS A CHILD, I loved milk. I drank gallons of it. My mother tried to control me, but she was rarely successful.

If it was in the house, I was on it like puppies on a bitch tit.

I harbor fond memories of milk with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And there were sandwiches of sliced banana, mayonaise and peanut butter too.

I’m still fruit for peanut butter.

In late adolescence, I found myself in the military. One aspect of military life left me giddy, and it was in the Mess Hall where there were literally faucets of endless milk, and you could drink as much as you pleased. And I surely did.

All through my adult life, I drank milk with most meals.

And then I moved to Mexico where milk is sold differently than anything I had previously encountered.

Ninety-nine percent of milk in supermarkets is not sold refrigerated. It sits on the regular shelves in hermetically sealed cartons, room temperature.

My reaction: Yuck!

This stuff cannot taste right, I told myself, as I placed the first carton in my shopping cart.

But it did taste right — after it was chilled — so my milk habit continued as always in my early Mexican years. Then I got married, acquiring Mexican relatives.

When I had lunch with these people, I would drink milk. They would drink Coca-Cola, water or — quite often — nothing at all. And they would snicker and roll their eyes at my milk.

Especially the kids.

Gradually, I quit drinking milk with lunch and supper, though I still pour it on my morning cereal. It was not so much peer pressure, which I am not very susceptible to, it was simply a different world, a world in which few people drink milk.

Nowadays I drink water with lunch and supper.

I still drink milk on my breakfast cereal and with the occasional waffle and maple syrup, all of which screams out for milk, but that’s the limit of my milk. Habits perish.

This morning, pouring milk on my cereal, I wondered when Mexico first started selling milk at room temperature in hermetically sealed cartons. I asked my wife if that was how her family got milk when she was a child. No, she said.

Her family’s milk came from a street vendor who poured it out of stainless steel containers into the family’s pots, or something like that. That is still common in Mexico.

Straight from the cow. I see these street vendors often.

But I get my much-reduced milk intake from the supermarket in the hermetically sealed cartons. These cartons wait on the kitchen counter until they’re needed in the fridge.

And like so many things here, it seems so normal now.

Pause for Mexico


LET’S TAKE a brief break from tossing darts at America’s politics, its unraveling society, Barry Obama and diminishing liberties. It’s time to gloat because I live down here, and you do not, or probably not because most Moon fans* live above the Rio Bravo.

Life here is good. It is not dangerous — fraught with peril — as many would have you think. It is peaceful, fun, colorful and inexpensive.

Let’s take yesterday, for example. Our young nephew, age 10, had spent the night with us. He has no bathtub where he lives, just a shower stall, and he loves filling our huge tub with hot water, getting in and hooting and hollering for about an hour.

He does this on the evening he arrives. He does it again the following morning. If he spends another night, that means two more sessions in what amounts to his swimming hole.

And we always eat waffles in the morning when he’s here. He and I are big waffle fans.

But let’s get back to yesterday. It was a sunny Sunday with cool temps. We drove downtown to eat lunch on the big plaza, a sidewalk table like in Paris. But people weren’t speaking French. They spoke Spanish. There were lots of Mexican tourists.

We dropped the kid off with his mama, and my child bride and I crossed the plaza and found a sidewalk table at this good restaurant. We both ordered arrachera, medium-rare. It came with guacamole, beans and warm tortillas.

I took the photo at the top just for you.

* * * *

*And I love you. Never think otherwise.