P.J. O'Rourke once wisely observed: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
He could say the same thing about Barco and garage door openers.
For the last few days, I have been suffering from one of those gastrointestinal episodes that keeps me within running distance of a bathroom and collapsing distance from a bed. When I sleep, I slip into what seems like a diabetic coma.
This morning (around 1 or 2) I was awakened to a man's voice calling my name -- Estiv! Estiv! When I looked up, sure enough there was the silhouette of a man standing in my bedroom entry.
This is the point where I should say I jumped up to defend this intrusion of my castle. After all, my Mexican neighbor had only recently reminded me that the streets in Barra are not as safe as they once were.
Instead, I just stared in repose -- trying to make some sense out of this Ibsen moment that had invaded my life. And then I realized who it was -- the neighbor who had given me the earlier warning. He was saying something about Barco being outside, the door was open, and my neighbor's wife was worried about me.
I wrapped a shirt around my waist and accompanied him to the front of the house. Sure enough the garage door was open. A couple of months ago, I had made the mistake of putting the remote control in my pocket and accidentally opened the door. I thought that was what had happened.
Nope. The remote was in the car, and the car door was locked. That left only one possibility -- what seemed impossible had occurred.
I have a backup remote in my bedroom. On a shelf. Which I thought was out of Barco's reach.
Sure enough, it was gone. I looked around the courtyard and found the cardboard box and the plastic bag that once encased it. Both were shredded.
It was obvious that Barco took the remote, tore open the box, and started chewing on the remote -- for the sole reason that it is plastic. That accidentally opened the garage door.
I fully expected to find the remote near the door where he would have run as free as Steve McQueen. But it wasn't there.
Because it was late, and I was wearing a shirt as a skirt, I decided to wait until the morning when the light would be better. But I knew myself better than that. I could not sleep knowing that the magic key to my house might be somewhere on the street.
There was only one thing to do -- think like Barco. It turned out not to be that difficult. When he gets away from me, he heads to the same place, the pile of garbage on our corner.
And there it was, on a spoiled banana. Barco apparently had been stuffing himself on rotten fish parts at the midnight buffet.
For me, the hero of this story is my neighbor, an owner of one of the most popular taco stands in our part of town. He and his wife were concerned enough about me that he took the extra steps of entering my house to check on my welfare.
And, for those who see no utility in speaking Spanish in this area, this episode would not have played out the way it did if I had not been able to establish a neighborly relationship with this family. When I realized how worried they were, I even felt a bit misty-eyed. Of course, I put that down to my medication.
As for Barco, the last time I saw him, he was driving my car to Acapulco with my garage door opener still stuck in his mouth.