New Years Eve is always fun. Too much fun. Always. The price comes in the form of a foggy brain and wasted half a New Years Day. Over the years – at least over those years – I was on a quest to feel good on New Years Day. Tough to do when you are the life of the party. One New Years Day twelve or so years ago in Chicago I achieved my quest. Lunch at The Tamale Place on Rockville east of I-465 in Indianapolis reminded me of that day. I ordered the pork in red sauce wrapped in banana leaf. Took me back to our sweet, caring Mexican neighbors when we lived at the Green Porch Palace of Love and Liquor (GPPLL). Maria was 70 something and Regino was a few years older than that. They immigrated to the States in the seventies and had made a nice life on Regino’s wages as a rail worker. They made ends meet in their retirement with pension and an abundant backyard garden. And they knew how to have a good time.
Maria and Regino came to our New Years Eve party at the GPPLL. It was epic. Like all GPPLL parties. I wore my silver PVC pants. Need I say more?
Needless to say (though I’ll say it anyway), My lovely bride and I were completely the worse for wear the next day (remember, New Years Day). I would have had to wait yet another year to achieve the elusive “feel good on New Years Day” if it had not been for that gorgeous knock at the door.
It was Regino. Had we been too loud after they left last night? Was he here to give us what for? Why was he holding a big pot? “Hello,” said Regino in his broken English. He took of the lid and presented the contents of the pot. I peered into the pot through the steam and saw the beautiful, rich, dark green banana leaves. I took the pot and Regino bent down to pick up a six pack of cold Miller Lite. Handing it to Constance, he said, “Maria said you may need these.” And with that he bowed, smiled, walked back to his home.
We spent the next hour in silence, siting on the kitchen counter eating the best banana leaf tamales you’ve ever seen. That Miller Lite could have won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
It felt good to eat home made tamales made with love. I felt good on that New Years Day.