Trippin’ On The Malecon
By Tom Nussbaum
A male con is a man in prison, a prisoner. A malecón, without a space between the syllables, is an esplanade, a promenade, a walkway along a waterfront common in Latin American cities. I recently took a stroll along Ajijic’s malecón to escape the nonstop television news coverage of the police shootings of Black men in Tulsa and Charlotte, resulting protests, presidential election, and “breaking” Hollywood gossip. I had become, I realized, the media’s wrongly convicted prisoner or male con.
My first stop on the malecón was the Jardin International or International Garden. I stepped off the sidewalk and into the peaceful, idyllic spot. Immediately, however, my head was jarred by Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” It was blasting at an 11 on the Spinal Tap volume scale. I jumped back onto the sidewalk. The blaring music stopped. I again stepped onto the grass. Suddenly Jimi Hendrix, with his Afro and wearing a tie-dye T-shirt, faced me. He held a guitar. It was on fire. “It’s about the Garden of Life, man,” he said. “Or maybe the Garden of Eden.
That’s it. In the Garden of Eden. That’s what they’re singing about.” I tried to study his face for a moment, but it suddenly began melting onto his shirt which had begun dripping onto the ground. Then he disappeared in an explosive hazy cloud of purple smoke.
“Holy cow,” I gasped as I stepped back on the path. “I’m having an acid flashback.” I felt weak, nauseous, and I could feel my face paling. I turned and stumbled along the malecón. That was friggin’ weird, I thought as a gray-haired woman with a thick braid dangling over her left shoulder and a denim skirt hanging to her ankles approached me. She was carrying a protest sign that read “Black Lives Matter.”
“Are you OK?” she asked. But before I could respond, she said, “My name is Charlotte and I’m from North Caro. . .” Freaked out, I pushed past her and down the sidewalk before she completed naming the state. A safe distance away, I turned around. A multi-colored puff of confetti danced in the air where she had stood.
Gaining strength, I raced along the malecón in panic. An acid flashback? This late in life? I thought as I came upon four white egrets wading in the shallow water next to the sidewalk. As I stopped to gaze at the calming sight, one of the birds slowly rose above the lake, transformed into a wing-spread angel, and floated skyward, dropping a glistening golden harp. The harp immediately sank, but a haunting dirge-like version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” emanated from the rippling water. A snorting sound interrupted the sad tune.
I looked along the shore to my left and spotted two horses, a handsome sandy-brown male and a striking, long-maned white female that looked somewhat undernourished, grazing along the Lake Chapala shore. Six foals of various colors nibbled grass nearby. How peaceful, I thought as I smiled. It was then that the male glared at me with anger and shouted, “Don’t look at Angelina like that!” Before I could react, the horse morphed into a beige 1970 Volkswagen bus and began racing toward me. I dashed down the esplanade and over a waist-high brick wall to safety just as the bus, which now appeared to be driven by Brad Pitt, raced past me. Pitt was yelling, “Free at last, free at last. Oh, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.” as he disappeared in the distance.
Out of breath, I bent over, put my hands on my knees and panted downward. It was then I realized I had landed precariously on a tree stump behind the wall. “That was great,” a voice said. “A horse turning into a VW bus. You don’t see that every day. That was huge.” The voice seemed to be coming from the stump.
“What?” I erupted, as I leaped in confused fear from the sawed-off tree.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the stump said. “I should have introduced myself. I’m Donald. Donald Stump and I want to make America grape again.” And with that, the hazy purple cloud that had appeared earlier on the malecón exploded down the walkway and enveloped me and the stump in a grape-colored mist. The voice, fading as the fog grew thicker, continued. “You know, that wall you just leaped over was built and paid for by Mexicans.”
I bolted from the purple cloud and began running home. I need water, I thought. And a Prozac. God, I hope Prozac stops acid flashbacks. Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” ran alongside me the entire way, repeating a lyric, perhaps a warning, about pills. As soon as I reached my casita, I poured myself a tall glass of cold water and plopped onto my couch. I turned on the TV. But I had left it on CNN. Or MSNBC. Or LSD. Images of protests in the streets of Charlotte stared at me. Protests against police, their tactics, and racism just like in the late 1960s and 1970s when my generation regularly dropped acid. Wow, I thought. Nothing’s changed. We’re still fighting the same battles and I’m sick of it. And I’m sick of being a prisoner of the damn news. SICK OF IT ALL! It is driving me crazy.
It was then I realized I had never, even in my younger days, dropped acid.