Saturday, March 26, 2011

Las Paisanas Book Club

I venture out of these fine streets every 6 weeks or so and attend what was formerly called, The Bad Girls Book Club. These ladies are extraordinary. The kind of women one could hang out with 24/7 and not tire. They dig great literature, scrumptious, savory “theme” morsels, heated debates that end lovingly, and cocktails.
Last night was John Steinbeck night and what could be more fitting than lounging together in Pat’s cozy, adobe painted living room staring out on the acres upon acres of the creeks, valleys and farmlands of the Salinas Valley; the very part of the earth that Steinbeck walked and wrote about so descriptively. John once said, “Beans are the roof of the stomach.” And we had 3 kinds: chili, black-eyed peas, and pintos…enough to provide sufficient fuel to fill a hot air balloon. Of course, Angela made “Depression Cake” which was melt-in- your-mouth-to-die-for: apples, walnuts and raisins slow-boiled in coffee for hours then blended with flour, sugar and lovin. The food is always thematic, but the wine is theme-less, the discussion of the book, optional, and the shenanigans, mandatory.
The discussion of In Dubious Battle and the horrendous plight of the Mexican farm workers in this valley during the Depression seemed to invoke our most inner thoughts and feelings, which then led to discussions of Wisconsin, unions, and workers’ rights everywhere. Our second book, Tortilla Flats, directed us to pour more wine, much like Danny and his pals, Pablo, Pilon and Jesus Maria did from their jugs, inch “por” inch, as they conversed about life, shared revelations and prioritized necessities such as buying more jugs of wine.
The conversation wove in and out as it always beautifully does each month but how we ended up in the following discussion I couldn’t tell you, other than Pat is a fabulous storyteller.
So our hostess is a former Kindergarten teacher, God bless her crazy soul,
and one very memorable year she had one very memorable class. Martin was by far the most interesting. Martin had lots and lots of issues that required lots and lots of Ms. Pat’s and other school personnel’s attention on a daily basis. Martin, though, couldn’t have been more content. He loved school. He spent most every hour of every day with his hand down his trousers, much to the dismay of Ms. Pat and the other adults. It didn’t matter if it was circle time, or small group time, or calendar time, or recess. If you took a glance at Martin, his hand was actively moving “down there” and his face was one of pure bliss. The adults were bewildered. After several weeks, they held a small meeting and decided to call in the school’s psychiatrist to observe Martin in action. She took concerned notes and decided to have a “one-on-one” with Martin.
As the inquiry progressed to a comfortable place, she eventually asked Martin why his hand was down his pants. “I’m playing with my horse.” Martin replied.
Somewhat troubled, the psychiatrist gently, yet cautiously, continued her questioning…Finally Martin said, “Would you like to play with him? I can wash him first.”
Horrified, she tried to contain her distress, and while she was making a few more notations, Martin reached deep down in his jeans and pulled out a plastic black Stallion he had been riding and handed it to her.
You gotta love a kid’s resourcefulness when his parents forbid him from bringing toys to school.
Las Pisanas howled with laughter at this one, and if you’re not, it might not be a bad idea to take a trip to the corner store, purchase some good Chianti and re-read.


  1. That is priceless! It's a wonderful reminder that we don't always know as much as we think we do about what's going on in our students' heads.