Almost everyone knows that Cinco de Mayo is the annual celebration of the Mexican armies victory over the French in1862 at the Battle of Puebla. The reason we celebrate this holiday in far greater numbers than our Mexican brethren is because Americans have more Mexican pride than Mexicans do. This is often the case in nations around the world. The Japanese have way more Belgian pride than the Belgians do and the Finns pride in India is far greater than India’s pride in itself. What many of you may not know is that aside from the margaritas, Modelos and Arizona avoidance, Cinco de Mayo has a number of specific, regional traditions.
Haddonfield, NJ – Dave, Rick, Bob, Chazz and Other Dave all go to a Mexican restaurant and engorge themselves on a feast of cheese-covered pseudo-Mexican fare before celebrating at Tito Fuente’s with oversized margaritas and fish bowls of beer. As is the tradition, they throw bad compliments and bad jokes at an endless sea of inebriated girls and try to get as many numbers as they can, despite the fact they are all married. As is also the tradition, at the end of the night they all retire to Bob’s house and have large amounts of gay sex.
Portland, OR – Each year the townspeople pool whatever money they have saved in bottles, junk-drawers and milk-jugs and they hire Gallagher to do a live show in the middle of the city. At the end of the show, despite promises it wouldn’t happen this year, they dress up in watermelon suits and chase Gallagher around with over-sized sledgehammers.
Lancaster, PA – For unknown reasons, the Amish of Lancaster celebrate Cinco de Mayo by having an all night rave in a barn. They take large quantities of drugs and continue the party beyond the 5th until someone dies. When that happens, they burn the barn like nothing happen and raise another barn. Every five years an Amishman leaves the fold and writes a screenplay about this occurrence. Such a screenplay has yet to sell for unknown reasons.
Waukesha, WI – Each year Mike McDonnell goes to his local Five Guys and eats five burgers. He then drinks exactly five Mexican beers at a restaurant near his house. He goes home and watches The Big Lebowski five times before eating five spoonfuls of mayonnaise. He counts backwards from fifty-five and falls asleep. Mike doesn’t wake up until May 4th the next year, once again mystified by the random sequence he must complete in order to travel through time.
San Diego, CA – For one day only the entire population of San Diego rejects it’s Mexican influence and instead celebrates the small, but vocal population of Canadian immigrants. The roller-blading masses carry hockey sticks, the maple syrup runs like something not as thick as maple syrup and large groups dress up like their favorite John Candy character. Jack Gable from Delirious is a clear favorite.
People often talk about how good alcohol gets better with age, as if the booze is separated from the chaff by its ability to sit around in some dark, temperate place and not turn. I would be tempted to doubt this, but the fact that it’s also true when it comes to the consumption, that the older we get the better drinking gets, makes me a believer.
Sure the occasional libation is drastically improved as you get older because of a tendency to not power-chug it during a game called power-chug where by the winner is decided based on who chugs the most while standing on power lines yelling out movies starring Powers Boothe. Just kicking back with a few and some conversation is actually a lot of fun, and it comes with way fewer regrets. But when the former souse inside causes us to slip back into the foggy heads of yesteryears, succumbing to the siren songs of a shot-carrying waitress or the cheap promise of cheap thrills given by cheap beer, it’s still way better.
The hangovers may last three to nine times as long, the drunk dials are no longer answered, the dancing more of a clothesline sway and the fear of drunk tweeting ever-present, but a night with a few too many is still the best it’s ever been. Why, do you ask? Because as you get older, with each step away from the person you always tried to be, whether it was a carefully crafted character or just an unsure kid, you get a little closer to the unplanned one you’ve become.
The toasts aren’t dirty limericks, they’re about a friend finding out he’s going to be a father, the one-upmanship is more about one-liners and less about feats of extreme extremeness, there’s no social anxiety because there’s no pressing need to be social, the magical beer you buy a girl that will make her fall in love turns into an off-brand cocktail bought for you by a divorcee with awkwardly angular eyebrows and the stories you end up with are understated memories you’re glad to have instead of proof of awesome chapters you made yourself write.
Just like alcohol, life really is better when its a little more pure.
I was recently sent a link to the BLHFL (Bud Light High Five League) by a friend who cannot wear wrist watches because of his compulsive propensity to connect palms. Apparently, the good people of Bud Light (who I am no longer compensated by) have decided to create a web-based competition that captures the best in high fives, double fives, double foot-fives, need for speeds, reverse slaps, flip backs, high-lows, low-highs, back agains, front agains, snap-dragons, open-pounds, sock-puppet hugs, thumblers, trifectas and palmies from around the world.
After doing a little research on the high five, I realized that while there is now a definitive home for the current state of the open-handed slap, there is no definitive bullet point record of the high five’s history. So, without further ado, I present…
A Brief History of the High Five
- 1278: Upon hearing that the Habsburgs’ have taken control of Austria, Rudolph I slaps the raised hand of a stranger then kills that stranger. Later, the movie Rudy is written about the birth of this influential European House, but is turned into a feel good football movie during extensive rewrites.
- 1849: The first prospector, Fuzzy Wiggins, discovers gold in California, but loses his arm to a bear on the way back to town. He hires a blacksmith to make him a golden arm, but runs out of gold and is left with his hand in the raised, open-palmed position, leading to a life full of fives.
- 1861: Having heard the story of a gold-armed man people travel to slap the hand of for good luck, President-elect Lincoln high fives his way from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration.
- 1944: Franklin Delano Roosevelt high fives a 19 year-old Lenny Bruce after Bruce tells him the one and only joke about wheelchairs he’s ever heard and laughed at.
- 1945: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is asked by his wife to stop high fiving every person he meets on the street. FDR refuses and adds “High Fiving” as part of the Secret Service training.
- 1956: After a precipitous rise, the Low Five takes over as the preeminent form of casual, hand contact related greeting. Some believe it is a result of a general weakening in our countries shoulder strength because of Communism.
- 1968: JG Ballard writes a passionate letter to The New Yorker explaining the misappropriation of the high five as a form of hello. Ballard argues persuasively that high five’s be returned to their original intent as a celebratory gesture.
- 1974: People Magazine is launched to capture compelling high fives from around the world, but changes direction and becomes a home for meaningless lists after its founder is left hanging by an old friend during a softball game.
- 1988: Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox and Michael Jordan work together to found the MJMJFMJHFFKF. Their plan to sell pictures of the three of them high-fiving to raise money for kids fails after their acronym is confused for a foundation that offers mining jobs to stutterers.
- 2009: Jason Marziani breaks the record for most high fives in an hour during the Philadelphia Brewer’s Bar Crawl.
- 2010: ???
Twenty-ten, much like the rest of the future, is wide open for all sorts of history making, high-five related and otherwise.
I’ve been going to the grocery store pretty much every day that I’ve been unemployed. It’s not that I’ve been eating any more, cooking more elaborate meals, or developing an awkward mid-century style friendship with the fish guy where I ask him about ‘the scallops’ and he tells me ‘they’re fresh’ and that’s all a backdoor metaphor for the overall state of affairs in the world, I just have more time.
My increased grocery store visitation has taught me a few things. It’s taught me that my pheromones, aside from attracting a random and incongruous group of women over the course of my life, give off another signal, one that tells old Jewish* women to push me out of the way in the produce section. It’s taught me that the group that buys the most gourmet cheese is not wives’ hosting dinner parties, but guys cooking for a date. It’s taught me that patchouli, despite all reason and logic in the world, is still worn by people and it’s taught me that less is almost always more.
I learned the last, and I believe most important grocery lesson, in the cereal aisle. There are so many options these days in the boxed breakfast section that mothers are instructed to tell their children not to try and see them all at once, fearing that any attempt at completely absorbing the immense selection will blind a child or render them dimple-less. And to what end? If anything, the number of cereal choices at the store make it harder to choose, and that’s probably the point. Somebody, somewhere, knows that if they can keep people trying to choose between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios**, they won’t worry so much about all the decisions that are made for them.
*I can say this because I come from a long line of non-pushy Jews and because it’s true.
**This impossible decision prompted my post. It’s like choosing between two children in a burning house. Do you go with the smarter one or the better looking one?