Weathering a "soccer jaw" -- and diving into duck flautas at Chilango
CHEAP EATS Standing in my funny little yellow kitchen, 10 at night, pressing a package of frozen peas to my swollen jaw and looking glumly at a plate on the table, leftover from dinner three hours earlier. It was a half-ravished pork steak, long gone cold and congealy. Which is one of my two favorite ways to eat pork — the other being warm and nice. The frozen peas?
The frozen peas had to do with a friendly, casual pickup soccer game from which I had just returned and during which — in a friendly, casual way — I had been elbowed in the jaw so hard that my ears clogged and my head hurt. There was a loose lump of something in my chin, which was, in spite of the ice-pack peas, witching ever outward and rapidly turning as purple as a purple Popsicle.
Worst of all though, as I was just finding out the hard way, it hurt like hell to chew. This is like when piano players get their fingers mangled in a mining disaster. Everyone goes: Oh, how tragic! Except some people go: What were piano players doing in the mine?
See? So, similarly, while I have your sympathy (I feel certain) I have also raised the question: What was I doing leaving half a pork steak on my plate in the first place? It's not like me, I know, I know, to not finish my dinner. Me!
Not to mention: pork!
Well, but I was running late for the stupid soccer game, you see, and so I thought, innocently enough, that I would leave this warm, nice meat on my table and come back in three hours to take care of it, cold and congealy.
Oh, the tragedy! Am I right?
Yes, but I wasn't alone, either. Misery does love company, and my co-miserable comrade, the Maze, was looking even glummer than me, albeit less clobbered. He showed up at Garfield Park toward the end of the game just to walk me home. Plus he gave me his last two ibuprofens. How romantic, huh?
You wish! He doesn't like me like that, which wouldn't normally stop me from going after someone, true, except that he doesn't like pork, either. And that is the deal breaker.
The Maze's misery was less physical than my own. Poor cat, he doesn't play competitive team sports, and so his wounds tend to be less responsive to ibuprofen, or peas. Like a lot of people, he just vaguely sort of hurts. Feels unfulfilled artistically, lonely in general, and doesn't know what to do. What he needed was someone to talk to, whereas what I needed was a bath. A bath, a good night's sleep, and some heavy duty makeup or I was going to have to cancel dates.
"Maze," I said, mustering up all my compassion, empathy, and social skills. "Get the fuck out of here. Go home." And I held the door open.
Well, but all kidding aside, I doubt he went home feeling any less lonely. While my bath was running, I tried to chew pork again, and couldn't. And the next morning my jaw felt better but looked even worse.
I had pork and oatmeal for breakfast.
For brunch I went to Chilango, with Sockywonk and her badass hockey playing cross-dresser boyfriend. Me and her talked about heartache and hair, and me and him talked about sports and hair, and heels, and everyone was happy. Plus the duck flautas were fantastic, so ...
Duck flautas? This is going to cost a fortune, isn't it? Nah. It ain't no taqueria, true, but even though you can get $12 filet mignon tacos at the Castro District's new(ish) fancy pants Mex joint, you can also get huevos rancheros for $6. Which is right in line with Chavas and other cheapo joints.
The duck flautas were $9.
Tortilla soup, excellent. Guacamole, good. The chips were warm and homemade and the salsas were delicious. But best of all, at 11 a.m. on a weekend morning, there was nobody there but us. Of course, they don't open until 11 a.m.