Wednesday, May 5, 2010

on the meaning of cinco de mayo

despite a total lack of Mexican heritage, the 5th of May has always been special because it is the birthday of my favorite brother.

but three years ago, approximately a year before the start of my latest stint of unemployment/full-time freelance writing, the date took on a new meaning.

it wasn't May 5th - in fact, it was probably just before, and closer to, Memorial Day when the woman who sat behind me in my last office job exclaimed, Oh no!

now this woman, also without so much as a drop of Mexican heritage, was a constant source of either amusement or annoyance or open-mouthed astonishment. such as the time she paid her veterinarian $1500 as a retainer towards future dental work to be performed on her non-show housecat (that would be the astonishment right there).

but when you hear, Oh no! in a loud, obviously distressed voice directly behind you, you really don't have time to process the many whackadoodle moments generated in the cubicle directly behind you (a lovely view of the back of my head she had).
no, your immediate reaction is to jump out of your seat for fear that her soda had exploded, her coffee had spilled and was headed your way, or perhaps some irreversible and costly mortgage processing error had taken place that you wanted no part of.
but whatever the cause, when you hear, Oh no! you pay attention.

and this is what followed the day I heard the woman behind me exclaim, Oh no! just before Memorial Day weekend in 2007:

We forgot to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

and that might well have triggered astonishment or even annoyance, except that she pronounced Mayo like the shortened version of mayonnaise.
as in, Oh no! We forgot to celebrate Cinco de May-o!

which immediately sent the holiday into the top slot in the May 5th memory bank (sorry brother).

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