A quesadilla can be a tricky thing to eat at the best of times. When it is a full folded tortilla, not conveniently cut into sections, when you are armed only with a fork that will not pierce the tough tortilla carapace, when the cheese is so hot and runny that tearing it apart with your fingers is an awkward and painful experience–these are the trials of the quesadilla eater.

James and I were at a Mexican place, and I was gazing at my tasty but recalcitrant dinner, thinking “I am a grown, competent, intelligent woman. I CAN defeat the wily quesadilla.” I had just about decided to throw what scraps of dignity I laughingly think I possess to the winds, and dig in like a hyena with a nicely bloated wildebeest.

Then the guitar player descended.

James and I looked up to the beaming face of a Spanish guitar player, who promptly rattled off a few incomprehensible phrases in Spanish. We smiled and nodded, because we’re well-meaning monoglots who feel slightly guilty about the fact we don’t speak any language but our own. Encouraged, he began a long litany of short phrases, mostly not in English, to James. It was not until I heard “Spanish Eyes” go by that I realized he was asking us what song we wanted to hear.

I know three songs in Spanish. I wasn’t going to insult him by asking for “La Cucaracha” or “La Bamba” and it’s a little early in the year for “Feliz Navidad.”

James and I looked at each other and did the thing–you know, hands raised slightly, palms up, head shaking, mouth working silently, in the universal expression of helpless indecisive idiocy.

This daunted the guitar player not at all. “I play you–LOVE SONG!” he said enthusiastically, and launched into a soulful ditty, probably thinking that James and I were on a date, since I don’t think either of us have seen our wedding rings in the last year.

Well. What do you do? Do you eat the food in front of you–particularly when you’re gonna have to go wild-dog-in-the-alley style on your quesadilla’s ass–or do you watch the performance while your food gets cold, or are you supposed to be gazing soulfully into the eyes of your husband, (which, if you do, will result in both of you cracking up completely, which I don’t want to do, because I can respect the difficulties of busking for a living)?

I’m a simple being. I took the quesadilla down, with great enthusiasm, if little decorum, to a musical accompaniment, while James and I tried very hard not to look at each other, lest we burst into uncontrolled hysterics. Eventually, the singer reached the end of his love song. James gave him some money. We smiled and nodded some more, and he went away to frighten a small child at the next table. Undoubtedly Miss Manners covered the etiquette here at some point, but I seem to have missed that column.

This whole incident was made far worse by my memory of the LAST time this sort of thing happened, when, many years ago, in a tiny Bavarian cafe in Oregon, an older man with an accordion descended on my mother and played her several impassioned songs, while making sheep eyes at her. Mom handled it with her usual slightly embarrassed grace. It’s not every woman who can graciously deflect a man with an accordion, so you gotta admire that.

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