Friday, April 11, 2014

my dinner with kim

In the early 1980s, I belonged to a gourmet club. 

A doctor.  A banker.  A businessman.  And a lawyer.  I know.  It sounds like the start of a very bad joke.  But it was a fun group of food-loving people.

One evening, the doctor's wife asked if any of us had seen a new movie -- My Dinner with Andre.  The banker's wife said: "No.  What's it about."  Mrs. Doctor responded: "Well, it's like having dinner with Steve -- but more boring."  Zing!

That lost memory popped up tonight.  But my experience was far better than what Mrs. Doctor had in mind.  I had dinner with the camera-shy Kim of el gringo suelto.

Actually, I spent the full afternoon and evening with him.  We met at Starbucks and then trekked into some familiar and new territory for me.

The familiar was walking down one of Mexico City's grand boulevards  -- Reforma.  The road was originally built by the unhappy Hapsburg Prince Maximilian, who the French installed as puppet emperor.  He wanted a grand avenue from his residence at the Castle Chapultepec to his offices in the historic center of the city.

What he ended up getting was being shot in front of a Mexican firing squad.  One of the men who toppled the emperor became president (Porfirio Diaz) and spiffed up the street to reflect a Liberal interpretation of Mexican history for the country's independence centennial.  He escaped a firing squad by sailing off to his beloved Paris -- a city that is reflected in Reforma's design and decorations.

But all of that is simply a setting for my meeting with Kim.

Kim was one of my early readers -- leaving intelligent and witty comments on my posts.  I knew I wanted to meet him one day.  And I did -- twice -- in 2011.  In Mexico City in March (continued next week), and in San Miguel de Allende in July (lazarus in san miguel).

He has proven to be a great dinner companion.    So, I jumped at the possibility that we could meet up on his road trip through Mexico.  And yesterday was the day.

There is a cliché that goes something like this.  "I know we are good friends because we can start up a conversation as if we had never been apart."

It is a silly construct -- one that the Hatfields and the McCoys could blast a hole through.

A friend is someone with whom you can discuss any topic with analytical clarity.  Where any topic can be discussed without emotional hysterics.  A person you can tell anything in confidence and know that it will be shared with no one but you.

Facebook and the television program Friends has sucked the word "friend" dry of any rational meaning.  But Kim fits the bill as the real McCoy -- probably the type that shoots at Hatfields.

One of my joys of walking in Mexico City is reinterpreting the Mexican history I have read.  After all, history means nothing until it is structured into a good tale.  Our walk provided plenty of fodder.

At the head of Reforma, we entered the forest that surrounds Chapultepec castle -- home to two emperors and a bevy of presidents.  More history.  More wailing over the lack of civility in politics.  More personal tales.  More laughter.

All of that makes two guys hungry.  So, we swung south into the La Contesa neighborhood that several of you have pressed upon me.  The food was good.  The companionship and conversation was without comparison.

Here's the amazing part of this story.  Kim and I did not attend university together.  We never worked for the same or similar employers.  My background is law.  His is finance.  If you went down a list of characteristics, you would think we could not possibly have become the chums we have through blogs.

But there we were.  Chatting away almost until yesterday was today.  Which it is right now.

There is a possibility that I will see Kim in Mexico City again when I return for my final formal costume fitting.  If so, I have no doubts the night will be as good as it was tonight.  (And, yes, Christine, I will let you vie for that billing, as well.)

But before I close, let me tell you about Lupe's appointment yesterday.

The doctor has determined that she cannot increase the size of Lupe's eye socket.  If she installed a normal size artificial eye, Lupe would be unable to close her eyelid.  Instead, she will fit Lupe with a smaller eye later today -- and then begin the process of painting it to look like her normal eye.

That means we will stay in Mexico City until at least Tuesday.  It will also give me an opportunity to show the historical center to the two of them. 

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