Entre Broma y Broma la Verdad se Asoma
“In between the jokes is the truth”
It might take a minute or two before you get up to flip the album over and drop the needle on the b side. There might be a pause in the storytelling or a let up in the laughter making the subtle silence noticeable. Looking down at the turntable, you remember how you can tell the length of each song by the width of the grooves in the vinyl, offset by the empty spaces between. The LP’s are all roughly from the same era as when he was born. Bread, Three Dog Night, Simon and Garfunkel. Thrift store finds, discards, mostly.
On the trampoline two of the cousins are wrestling. They shout, run, bounce and fly at each other, accidents begging to happen. The dog barks unceasingly underneath, jumping and trying to bite their feet as they sink and spring, sink and spring. In the end, both luchadores fall exhausted, understanding this isn’t about winning, which is a win. As if infected with the need to play, the father pins his son-in-law’s arms while his daughter mercilessly tickles her husband. You swear the plastic chair is going to buckle under all that force. It holds. That’s a win as well.
In the bucket cooling the wine, the ice melts. Bottles are slowly emptied into glasses. The bottles don’t have labels, not because they’re homemade, but because they’re brought from their vineyard before labeling. This is for family.
He works the grill even though it’s his birthday. Generous kabobs, bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese, you smelled them out on the street before you rang the doorbell. His joy is serving, but the apron and tongs also give him enough protection from the direct attention of the rest of the family. His sisters, one older, one younger, know how to make him blush. He knows how to stay out of the spotlight.
As the sun crosses over the small backyard, the giant palm offering shade now cools, so blankets are brought out. The conversation takes a turn and plans are being made for a family camping trip in the mountains four hours to the south.
Before things really settle down there’s a pinata that needs busting up. Everyone chants the song as a couple of the adults soften it up, then the kids finish it off. Not even the grown-ups can resist grabbing a couple pieces of candy as they sprinkle the courtyard.
Cake is offered, the same one he asks for every year, the same one they had at their wedding, the same one she made for him when they were first dating. She offers every year to make something else. This is the one he wants.
Later the recorder (the kind you play) will come out. The laughter will reach its zenith when the attempts at long ago learned songs are interrupted by hiccoughs. Words will be misspoken, offering “dios” instead of “diez”, only adding to the joy.
This afternoon is not all there is, but what’s essential is, enough to celebrate, enough to be content with at least. Earlier, when jokes were being poked around in equal measure, one of the sisters, the younger one, leans over and offered “Entre Broma y Broma la Verdad se Asoma” then added in English, “In between the jokes is the truth”. Just like the small gaps in between the songs on the LP’s, the things not said, the things known and acknowledged but set aside to make room for the laughter to ride under the needle.