Having too much time on one’s hands can often lead to no good, especially if you’re an adult with a computer handy and a credit card with a zero balance.
That’s the situation I found myself in last month when I took some time off work. I found myself trolling eBay and Amazon.com almost every day and buying things I really didn’t need: a Molly Manatee Christmas tree ornament (don’t ask); the “Whatever” version of the “Clueless” DVD; and a Lucha Libre mask in case I ever decide to leave journalism and pursue a career in Mexican wrestling.
But I also found some really cool stuff that might be of interest to readers who are trying to ward off the dreaded evil eye, collect Hillary Clinton memorabilia or are looking for some good music or reading material.
A couple of weeks ago a friend called and asked me if I knew of any good curanderos (healers) in town. He was convinced that a disgruntled maid at the apartment complex he manages put a hex on him and gave him the evil eye. Too many bad things were happening to him, he whimpered. You know, all the tell-tale signs that a person has been evil-eyed: appliances malfunctioning, patio furniture flying and breaking and hair not cooperating.
I apologized and told him I didn’t know of anyone but that I would research the topic on the Internet and try to find a cure. I hit pay dirt on a Greek superstition site that provided some interesting tidbits:
• Beware of compliments from strangers, especially if they have blue eyes, because they are “exceptional givers” of the curse, who are actually out to harm you.
• One way to ward off the evil eye is by painting an eye on a blue charm and wearing it as a necklace or bracelet.
• Another method to fend it off is by sticking a clove of garlic in your clothing. The woman who founded the site says she keeps garlic in her brassiere and that it’s not all that bad once you get used to the smell. I wonder if her co-workers feel the same way.
• If someone pays them a compliment, it is customary for Greeks to spit toward the person. Some actually spit at the complimenter three times, invoking the Holy Trinity as they ask for protection. Good stuff.
After reading this valuable information, I immediately headed to eBay in search of evil eye jewelry for my imperiled friend. I found bracelets and necklaces but what really grabbed me was a ring with a giant blue eye at the center. The seller wrote, jokingly, I think, that wearing it helps ward off the evil eye. I was sold and bought the charm immediately.
It arrived in the mail two days later. It was even nicer than the photos showed. I like it so much that I’ve decided to keep it. Who knows when I’ll need it to defend myself against blue-eyed strangers showering me with compliments. As for my poor cursed friend, he’s on his own.
With poor Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race, her supporters are still hurting and are looking for items to help them remember her historic candidacy. By chance, I came across the Hillary nutcracker on Amazon and bought it for a friend. Like her or not, you have to admire Clinton’s tenacity, and this handy and practical gift is the perfect way to honor the spunky former first lady.
Two of the best purchases I made were of a CD and a book that reminded me of my childhood.
I was downloading Spanish tracks from iTunes when I noticed that Christian music group Salvador had recorded a new version of the classic song “Un Día a la Vez (One Day at a Time),” made famous by Los Tigres del Norte. My mom loved that song, so I checked out the Texas band’s updated rendition. What a beautiful update. It’s faster than the Tigres’ version but doesn’t lose any of its poignancy, with a heartfelt interpretation.
I downloaded the song and bought the band’s CD, “Que Tan Lejos Está el Cielo (How Far is Heaven?)” an all-Spanish, best-of collection from the bilingual group. The disc showcases Salvador’s true talents and versatility, with elements of pop, salsa and other Latin sounds in the mix. A bonus: the band’s Spanish cover of Los Lonely Boys’ smash hit, “Heaven.”
Another item I stumbled across on Amazon was the book, “Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa” by Rigoberto Gonzalez. The 2006 memoir is the author’s touching story of his life as a boy dividing life between the U.S. and Mexico with his farmworker family – and having to cope with his gayness, the death of his mother at a young age and his volatile relationship with his father.
Gonzalez grew up in California and many of the references he makes are familiar, such as shopping at (former Tucson stores) Zody’s, Pic ‘N Save and Alpha Beta.
He also mentions “Alarma!” and “Alerta!,” two Mexican tabloids that were notorious for publishing graphic and grisly photos of accident and crime victims. These sensational publications were tasteless and gross, but as a curious, thrill-seeking kid, I read them from page to page. I couldn’t resist such great headlines as “LE CORTÓ LA CABEZA E HIZÓ TAMALES!” (SHE CUT OFF HIS HEAD AND MADE TAMALES!) The story – about a woman who killed her husband with an ax – was accompanied by a photo of the Mexican Sweeney Todd in her kitchen, standing over a pot with her mate’s head peeking out.
Gonzalez also writes about fotonovelas, little comic-book-type versions of telenovelas, except with photos, not drawings. Gonzalez’s mother, like mine, used to collect them when he was a boy.
Gonzalez is a gifted writer. Check out his work. I’m sure I’ll be exploring his other books when I’m off again in September and prowling the Internet for things I simply can’t live without – unless my evil-eye ring fails me and a flying piece of patio furniture hits me on the head and sends me to that big online shopping store in the sky.