I've just walked out of my third bar in a row, drinkless, and I'm starting to feel defeated. My country is being taken over. For hours now, I have been trying, to no avail, to find a nightspot with nary a whiff of Cinco de Mayo celebration. When the bartender at Red Lion (2316 South Shepherd) says, "Happy Cinco, buddy," I turn on a dime and walk out before he can ask me what I'd like.
Before the night even began, I opened my old Nightfly e-mail account to develop a game plan. There they were, dozens of them, mocking the American dream: invitations to Cinco de Mayo celebrations around the city, attempting to lure me with $2 margaritas, half-priced Mexican beer and festive, hip-rattling salsa music. Some even promised mariachis! These are places I'll be avoiding.
Why are Americans celebrating a day that commemorates a Mexican victory over the French hundreds of years ago? It's a question last week's "Day Without an Immigrant" protests and Charlie Daniels have forced me to think long and hard about, along with other questions. Is this an underhanded ploy for immigrant sympathy? Is it just another example of the erosion of American borders, language and culture? And, most important, who can't win a battle against the French?
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I'm not the only one with these thoughts bouncing around my dome. Pat Gray, morning talk host on conservative radio 950 KPRC, has them too. He won't be drinking Corona or Tecate today, and not just because he doesn't drink. He's boycotting Cinco de Mayo, and so am I.
It's an idea that's caught fire around the country -- countless blogs have called for a boycott, some even proposing the idea of May 5 being the national "Day Without a Citizen," wherein 200 million legal Americans stay home from work, take to the streets in protest and refuse to buy anything. "That'll show the government who they really need to pay attention to," says one of the more outraged bloggers.
I e-mailed Pat, plainly a brother in arms, to discuss the boycott. Maybe we could picket establishments throwing Cinco parties or get a group together for an American barbecue with American hot dogs, American potato salad and American Budweiser. He could use the power of his American radio show to really get the ball rolling on this American idea.
But Pat Gray declined. So, obviously, he's not a good American. Also, today is his daughter's 17th birthday. Whatever.
So I'm stuck going it alone. I call my friends (of which I have four) and attempt to enlist help. Their answers are remarkably similar. "Fuck you, McManus," they say before listing a host of different bars virtually giving Cuervo away.
Undaunted, I go ungentle into this good night, hitting up an Irish pub (Slainte, 509 Main), another Irish pub (Kenneally's, 2111 South Shepherd ) and an English pub (the previously mentioned Red Lion). I am disappointed by all three. Someone has wished me a happy Cinco de Mayo at each one of them. Slainte even has the gall to write the traitorous words on a chalkboard. Perhaps they all share a sort of kindred immigrant spirit with those who would celebrate the Cinco. Either way, I'm running out of time and ideas.
I hightail it to the Heights, where I inspect Onion Creek (3106 White Oak Drive) for signs of the Cinco. Finding none, I order an American Miller High Life and begin annoying strangers.
"Why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo?" I ask a portly young gentleman sitting alone at a table.
"Personally, I think it's a holiday invented by the Mexican beer companies," he says.
"Interesting," I say, steaming at the suggestion of a holiday invented just so businessmen can cash in.
"I don't really even know any Mexicans that celebrate it; I think it's an American thing," he continues.
"Interesting," I say, steaming at the thought of Mexicans not celebrating an American thing.
I move back to the bar, where I ask a woman the same questions and get roughly the same answers: Mexican beer companies, Mexicans don't care about it, American thing. I order another High Life just before my new friend tells me, "All Mexican beers are only $2 tonight."
What?! I've been duped. Fuming and steaming, I ask aloud, "WHAT?!" at a volume that I hope indicates that I am both fuming and steaming. "Yeah, even the good stuff," she says, pointing to a small sign hidden away on the other side of the bar. "All Mescan beers $2," it says.
Furiously steaming, stammeringly fuming, I slam my American beer and head to American drug store Walgreens. I buy some "Made in China" poster board and an "Assembled in the USA" Sharpie and begin scribbling two signs of protest. "HOT DOGS > TACOS, BUD > MARGS" and "YOU'RE $2 MARGARITAS AREN'T WELCOMED." The misspelling is due to all the aforementioned steaming and fuming, but it's okay: Good American's aren't very good with contractions anyway, right?
The bars are closing as I race downtown to picket the streets on a one-man mission to save us all. When I arrive, people are drunk, scattered and scarce. I hoist the signs over my head, but no one pays attention -- with the exception of one man, who calls me "gay" and "white" in Spanish.
Soon I'm on the street alone with my anger. I'm also hungry. Admittedly, the night hasn't gone as planned.
But I remain steadfast. "Give up my country without a fight? No way, Jose," I say as I pull into La Tapatia (2203 North Main) at three in the morning on May 6. "No way, Jose."
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