Every few days or so we stop by one of several papaya stalls in the mercado. We’ve tried most vendors; the papaya quality isn’t different from one seller to another, prices are comparable. Three eggplant-size papayas either cleaned and sliced before you or left whole with a lime is 25 pesos, $1.22 USD as of this morning. Lately Jeanette, LouLou and I visit our favorite papaya stall even if we’re not buying them for a pre-beach mid-afternoon pick me up.

Brian is that stall’s real star of the show; I don’t know who has a bigger crush on him, Jeanette or LouLou? I’d give him a piece of my mind, however, Brian still wears Pampers; jealousy over another male who captivates my wife’s attention at this juncture is really inconsequential. Brian has an older sister who appears to be around seven years old and a brother I’d say looks fifteen or sixteen. Brian’s siblings guard over him, occasionally pulling Brian by a ten-foot nylon cord tied to his imaginary car, bus, boat or train — kids making use of an available wooden produce crate.

Brian, his sister, and brother know us through daily recognition. Only eleven months old, if that, this Latino charmer is the family extrovert; his sister’s, along with brother’s demeanor remains reticent. Their father comes and goes, from what I see to deliver supplies and organize product. Yesterday Papá was separating oval cactus sections in flat despined bunches for customers, other handfuls cut by pocketknife into thin strips called nopales, texture similar to okra; excellent sautéed, afterward adding diced tomatoes, onions, minced jalapeño, topped then by sliced avocado, cilantro and queso fresco. The mother is tranquil; shoppers, her children and husband stay calm because she’s chill.

Two years ago I asked Dr. Petrini, our former San Francisco dentist, about the possibility of replicating Southern Italy’s crafty dental work on an otherwise perfect tooth. Last June after making an inquiry about this same upper incisor’s cosmetic gold crown at our current Encinitas dental office, it’s apparent no self-respecting dentist in America will comply with such a kooky request.

I passed on the tat craze; fortunately my ass cheek tattoo isn’t visible for public viewing. Mine is jailhouse style, achieved using India ink and needle (by I can’t even remember her name) in the backseat of my 1960 Rambler, stoned on MDA, night school senior year at Patrick Henry High.

Teeth don’t wrinkle nor sag, therefore making a subtle statement through dental work should stand the test of time. I realize it’s an acquired taste, but I’ve gotta say, Brian’s mother’s two upper front teeth framed in silver so grab me, not to be confused with a full-on ghetto grill. Jeanette’s not into it, even if Dr. Thompson would appease me, Jeanette might strangle her.

Daily Mexican life is noncomplex, after an extended period here this culture becomes reality; whereas sparkling bleached-white teeth, talking over speaker phone, driving a shimmering 2017 Range Rover Holland & Holland on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu seems kinda disproportionate. This is where the danger lurks, it sort of parallels Stockholm syndrome. Thank God Jeanette, alongside LouLou remind me about pragmatism whenever necessary. Without their native wit, I might grow out my remaining salt and pepper hair, then let it dread after visiting some abiding Puerto Escondido dentist — wild setting Oaxaca, draws out the inner gypsy, stateside I’d sport vintage Comme des Garçons neck to toe.

I don’t see laws posted anywhere here, there’s barely any stop signs nor traffic signals, yet most everybody behaves without conflict. There will come a day before long when famiglia di Schiavo is permanently ensconced in the United States once again. Of those positive lessons learned through experience as nomads dotting our mothership, this particular go-around, I’d prefer not to forget Mexico’s sheer simplicity; Brian’s infectious giggle — siblings who absolutely cherish him — hard-working parents that provide customers with awesome nutrition and the guaranteed satisfaction savoring a fresh squeezed lime.



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