I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not. I mean, he looked like a pretty serious guy. Stocky, wearing a worn out Pittsburgh Steelers shirt that must’ve survived some south-of-the-border war or something, or maybe just too many heavy drinking nights, the guy’s face could have been used as an old worn out Bible’s cover and even though his mouth seemed like it could pull off an ear-to-ear smile if it wanted to, his eyes were nothing but serious. He was trying to tell me his name. I don’t know if I’d asked, but I was tipsy so the chances that I’d asked were good, and after all, he was sitting right beside me. The people who were sitting beside me before he sat down were fun to talk to, a good time all around. Now here he was, trying to tell me his name.
“Simon,” he said. At least, I imagine that’s what his name would have been if he were born on this side of the border, but he was Mexican and so even though it still may have been spelled the same way, he was definitely not your average Simon.
“Simon,” I replied. It’s nice to say a person’s name back to them when you’re drunk, or so I’ve learned.
“No, See – moin,” he corrected me.
“Ah, sorry Seemoan,” I turned to my beer and back to him. “Nice to meet you–”
“No, Seeeee – moe – een,” he once again corrected me, this time with a little more of that “Talk slow to the gringo” attitude I would come to realize he was so famous for.
“Seeemoean?” I tried again.
Shaking his head in disgust, setting his beer down and turning his head like a chicken cocked and ready to spray buckshot all over the broadside of a tractor. “You’re not listening to me. Seeeeeee – mOE – ee – eeen.”
“Like Samoan but with an ee thrown in there?”
Now I could see the disgust in his eyes, and though the smell of longneck bottles hung too heavily around my own breath for me to get a steady solid whiff of his own intoxication perpiration, I could see that he was hammered and more interested in starting trouble than reassuring me of his name. I made an excuse to go and sit at a table where some ranchers I’d met earlier in the day were all laughing and drinking and generally being cowboys.
Several minutes later he sits down in the thick of our table, right beside me, but I was headfirst into talk about big cattle scores and how city folk would pay hundreds of dollars for an old cowboy hat and whether Lone Star is a joke beer or not. He starts trying to talk to me again, more like at me as I’m doing my best to keep from having to get back into it with him. I prefer a good laugh to bickering about the pronunciation of a name that’s always changing, and to be honest, I feel a little bad. Am I that drunk that I can’t hear or speak or what? I didn’t think so, but relying on one’s judgment while intoxicated is like relying on the moon to keep you warm. He keeps nudging me and talking to me, until he finally interrupts one of the ranchers telling me a story.
“Dammit Simon,” pronounced in as plain English as you’d use to refer to Alvin and Theodore’s brother, “I’m talkin’ here.” Throughout the night I realized that everyone in the town, Mexican, American or otherwise, called him Sie – mun, the standard pronounciation.
The moral of this story? It’s fun to go out drinking.
Up Next: See the Volcano