Señal Noventa

I’ve been struggling with this post for far too long. It’s times like this that make me wonder why I decided to start writing a blog. It happened like almost everything else that’s happened in my life. By accident. And to quote any number of porn stars, It sounded like fun at the time.

I’m not sure if I have writer’s block or if I’m just so lazy that I don’t feel like doing anything. It might be a combination of the two. I will freely admit that I’m probably the laziest person I know.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a writer. I usually love writing. I’m just being a grumpy old man right now. It’s one of the perks of getting old. Some people abuse that privilege. Like the lady in front of me at the gringo ATM the other day. She complained about the machine for five minutes before she tried using it. I almost cut in front of her because, you know, she wasn’t using it, and there was a line of people that were waiting our turns.

Instead, I decided to talk to mi amigo, Hector. He’s the security guard at the gringo ATM. He carries a shotgun to protect the gringos and their money. I always tip him when I use the ATM. He provides a valuable service, and he probably makes next to nothing doing it. And you never know, he might snap someday and decide he’s heard enough complaints from the pinche gringos, and he’ll shoot a few of them to shut them the fuck up already twice.

But he won’t shoot me because I was always nice to him.

* * * *

Two people that I know died last week. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with this post. You reach a point in life where every death hits you harder than it should. Because, you know, it could have been you, and Death has clearly been hanging out way too close to your neighborhood.

One of them was Belva Sublett. She was the realtor that showed us the house we’re currently residing in. Belva was also one of the property managers here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. She was a southern gal from Texas, I think. She was very sweet, and very, very helpful to us once we took up residence here. She was in the process of trying to get us a new refrigerator when she passed away.

Her death came as a big surprise to everyone that knew her. She seemed to be relatively healthy. For her age. I suppose I could add that qualifier. She was only 71. She wasn’t battling any illnesses or diseases as far as I know. It’s safe to say that her passing was unexpected, possibly even to her.

Vaya con Dios, Belva. You’ll be missed.

* * * *

The other person that recently got dead is Florentino. He was an ancient local guy that sold golf balls at the golf course I belong to.

I bought some balls from him a few times, but not because I needed them. I already have way more golf balls than I’ll reasonably be able to use before I die. I bought balls from Florentino because he was a sweet old man. He always greeted me with a warm smile, and he always wished me well. And, there was the offhand chance that he was an angel in disquise, and I was trying to win the golf gods over to my side.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. And no, my strategy didn’t work.

Florentino evidently knew a lots about golf because he always had advice for me whenever I bought balls from him. In my mind, he was kind of the Mexican version of Bagger Vance, though now that I think about it, even someone that doesn’t know anything about golf would probably know I suck at golf if they saw me play.

 Unfortunately, all of his insights were en español. I was never really sure what he was telling me to do. I would nod in agreement, and Florentino would smile and pat me on the shoulder. And that means, Hang in there. You can do it. In every language.

Vaya con Dios, Florentino. Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out what you were trying to say to me.

* * * *

Our refrigerator. If someone had told me that I was going to be writing this much about a goddamn refrigerator, I probably would’ve laughed. Now, mostly I just want to cry.

We’ve had our LG refrigerator repaired at least four times in nine months. I’m starting to lose count. Refrigerators are usually bulletproof. You plug them in and they last longer than you do. The last time the service technicians were here to fix the fridge, they were here for three hours. Their repairs lasted one week.

So, I called Belva. She called Jaime, our other property manager. The plan was to get rid of the LG lemon that was taking up space in the kitchen, and replace it with a new refrigerator that worked. And then Belva died. Our fucking refrigerator probably killed her.

So, Jaime called the LG Service Department. Again. They told him a technician had to make the decision to replace our refrigerator. Last Tuesday, the technician arrived. Jaime came over to talk to him. Their conversation was in Spanish, so I only understood about every tenth word. The technician said he didn’t have the authority to replace our refrigerator, only the office could do that.

Clearly, someone was lying. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Jaime get angry. Jaime is a large man. I thought he was going to shove our refrigerator up the technician’s ass. Sideways.

The technician said he was here to fix the refrigerator, and he added that LG was never going to replace our refrigerator. They would rather keep sending technicians, so could he just get to work?

Jaime and I had a deep philosophical discussion while the technician fixed the fridge for the fifth time. Neither of us thought this guy was going to be any more successful than any of the other technicians that had allegedly fixed our fridge before. So, when it died the next time, Jaime wasn’t going to call LG. He would bite the bullet and replace it himself.

That was the plan. There’s only one thing that could screw it up. And that thing is maybe this technician was able to do something no one else has been able to do up to this point. He might have actually fixed our fridge! 

I’m good with that. I don’t want a new refrigerator. I only want a refrigerator that works. All the time. I’m not sure if I’m ready to accept the fact that it might actually be fixed for real. I’ve thought that several times before, and I was wrong every time. I still haven’t moved any of the food from our other fridge in the casita yet. I’m not sure how long I’m going to wait. I only know it’s not going to happen today.

I’ll keep you posted.

* * * *

Perhaps the greatest invention in automotive history is the radio. There are few things that match the feeling of driving down the highway when your favorite song comes on.

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See? I told you.

There are a lots of quirky things you have to adjust to when you move to Mexico, but one of the weirdest things are the radio stations. Most of them play Mexican music of some sort. And all of the DJ’s speak Spanish, which only stands to reason. I listen to them occasionally. It’s a nice change of pace, and I like almost every type of music.

My favorite Mexican FM radio station is 90.7 out of Guadalajara. Or as they call it, Señal Noventa. It plays gringo rock and roll. The music I grew up on.

I’ve spent way more time than I should trying to figure out what the hell is going on at this station. For starters, there’s only one disc jockey. It’s the same guy, every day, no matter what time of day. I’ve never heard him say his name. I call him:

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He speaks Spanish, of course, and he speaks it rapidly. Most of the things he says are Greek to me. Sometimes there’s a woman who makes some comments, which makes me think she’s his wife. She’s possibly saying things like, Hey, quit playing with your records and fix the kitchen sink like you promised. Or do I have to get your brother to come over. I should have married him when I had the chance!

Seeing how it’s only ever just the two of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that their radio station is home-based. 

The only time I ever listen to the radio is when I’m in the car, so I don’t spend that much time of the day hanging out with José. And his wife. But it makes me wish I understood spoken Spanish more better gooder.

I want to know what José’s wife is really saying to him.

American radio essentially plays current Top Forty hits, or classic Top Forty hits, so you tend to hear the same songs from the same bands all the time. José plays some classic American rock and roll Top Forty hits, too. But he loves to play the B-side songs you never hear on the radio. And he has the most awesome-est collection of music I’ve ever heard.

I have to admit, I still have some serious envy when it comes to his music collection.

José has the most eclectic taste in music of anyone I’ve ever listened to. And that includes me. He’ll queue up ten songs no one has heard in forty years, then he’ll play the same song three times in a row. Or he’ll play the English version of a song, then the Spanish, French and Japanese versions. A couple of weeks ago, every song he played before noon was by The Beatles or Paul McCartney and Wings. 

Monday through Friday, José plays whatever he wants as many times as he wants. American rock. Sarah Brightman. The theme song from Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Showtunes. You never know what you’ll hear. It’s actually very refreshing.

But on Saturday mornings, José plays classic American Country/Western from the 50’s and 60’s. Hank Williams. Marty Robbins. Tammy Wynette. Sunday mornings, it’s Heavy Metal Sunday because everyone knows God loves Iron Maiden. And Dokken. And Motörhead.

Sometimes José will start a song, then seemingly forget what he was doing and start talking about God knows what over the song. Perhaps, fixing the kitchen sink before his pain-in-the-ass-know-it-all brother shows up and takes off his shirt and his wife will start drooling like a drunken sailor. Again.

He often starts a song, then switches to different song before the first song ends without any explanation. Maybe he has ADD? José clearly has a favorite playlist because he’ll throw that on occasionally while he’s busy doing other things, like trying to fix the fucking sink.

It’s the only time he ever plays the same songs in the same order.

* * * *

Retirement has become much more of a learning experience than I imagined it would be, thanks to Mexico. It’s been a good thing. I still mostly suck at golf, but I did shoot my best ever Rainy Season round yesterday. There’s a glimmer of hope.

I’ll never be fluent in Spanish, but I’m not totally mystified by the language anymore. And if you speak to me like you would to a three year old, I’ll probably understand most of what you’re saying.

If you ever come to visit, we’ll listen to José Jimenez on Señal Noventa. You’ll probably hear something that will give you flashbacks to when you were young. You’ll smile to yourself, and think,

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I could do this…