The Ballad of Jeanine and Myriam
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2020
I searched the intermittent internet of Mexico with my preferred engine, Google Güey. I checked news tab, images, bookmarks, and reviewed the alerts I had set months ago to monitor her name and the name of her books. I followed her recent tours, lectures, radio and TV interviews. And I also updated her chain of cancelled presentations, a pandemic or pandemonium that was spreading faster than the froth of Corona virus landing in California from the far-off East.
I had all the information I wanted about her. Needed about her. Craved about her. And it simply was not enough. It was never enough when it was about her. The year of Jeanine. Her: my most impersonal pronoun. Jeanine, with that big beautiful initial J of yours, perhaps borrowed by chance from my beloved Méjico.
I always longed for much more when it came to her. Expected more, demanded more. A desperate addiction, a deliberate disease. Also known as desire. La ley del deseo: definitively the demon of my Mexican dirt.
During the last weeks, it felt as if I could finally get over my main symptoms. Leave behind a number of my philias and manias, as well as my obnoxious anxieties and insulting insecurities.
For example, I quit rereading her books and the touching timeline of her social networks, at least during several hours per day. In total, not more than twenty hours a week, because memory is like a weak woman. And, besides, every rehab hurts.
Lacking the resources to afford an expert in intertextual traumas, I registered free―amateur therapy―in a creative workshop. It didn´t help, in each session they all talked and talked exclusively about her.
Once I managed to remain offline for a whole weekend, while outside, in Acapulco, good neighbors kept executing good neighbors for the sake of higher ratings and a hideous headline in the press.
Still, I was doing well. I swear that I was doing OK about her. But at times everything reversed at the speed of language: 300,000 obsessions per second. Any delicate detail from the J-word could force me to keep typing over and over the holy heptagrammaton of J-E-A-N-I-N-E: la muy pendeja, mi amor.
Wrath was wooing the worst grapes of my heart. I treated them like an artist working with darts. Shadows fell. When January was half gone, big clouds of revenge moved down from Texas and the Gulf. I couldn´t breathe. It was then that the web shaman Axolotl urged me to try hatred homeopathy, a trending topic for those hoping to escape from affection dependency.
Her services were rather pricey. But, for someone in my situation, hope is a priceless commodity. And I tried―the gods I don’t believe in know that I tried―to follow her radical recipe to the very letter. No matter what. No wonder it is written somewhere in the Popol Book that “somewhere on this planet, a woman is about to touch a woman to death.”
First, I bought a second copy of all of Jeanine’s works. Amazon Drones reached me before I could think it twice. I detached hundreds and hundreds of pages out from the postal package, while listening to a remix of Jeanine´s audiobooks, at top volume in my Apple AirPods. Her grammar straight up into my brain. The syntax of a tempting tinnitus. The vocabulary required for being Jeanine.
Second, following the gospel of Saint Axolotl, I carefully cut thousands and thousands of lines with a copper stylet and sifted them through a microcut shredder several times, until the lines blended in a sort of dehydrated pozole, which I transferred to the oven in a silver plate, in order to let it sublimate―low and slow―exactly at sunset time, adding a drop or two of cenote water here and then, to prevent it from catching fire and ruin my recipe and my recovering from Her.
Third, I left the healing mixture to be consecrated overnight under the narco-moon shrieks of the local lechuzas. At dawn, I finally drank it all, in a state of aesthetical ecstasy. In trance of J.
I swallowed Jeanine’s verbal balm in the same room where I discovered her writings for the first time, back then me being a timid teenager with no ethnicity at all. It was the same room where her writings entered but never came out from my head. To appreciate a style is to appropriate a style.
I was high with Jeanine´s jargon exactly at sunrise time. During years, I was convinced the more I heard, the less I could ever heal from Her: my impersonating pronoun. Not anymore, I guess.
One night I had a dream that came from the future. Méjico didn’t exist. Or I couldn’t remember where to search for Mexico, with or without its juicy J. Google Güey failed me in this respect. All the links led to a meteor called Jeanine, which had devoured my country from below, in a sort of postmodern Chicxulub, leaving an underground crater that matched inch by inch the diameter of my shrunken skull.
I could still hear the echo of her nemesis in my Apple AirPods. I understood that there was going to be no life on Earth for me, as long as the comet Jeanine kept circling around in dreams night after night.
I was hating her with all the astronomical forces of the universe, when the oppression in my chest woke me up. I had a terrible headache. My left nostril was bleeding. Tachycardia in the time of Corona virus. Méjico was still Mexico, one street south to the copy-and-paste country of Jeanine, and one street north to my emancipation proclamation from Her.
I noticed that I was crying, like a little girl whose father had just died suddenly during dinner. Consequently, the little girl who will never be lulled to sleep by her dad, also noticed that she had just peed on her bed. Orphan epiphany. This is how Myriam knew what we knew only when it was already too late.
She flew first class. New York was only five hours and five hundred dollars away from home. A series of exclusive interviews had been scheduled there by top executives of alternative publishing houses, the 1% Latinx supremacy. And they all agreed that Jeanine was meant to be the honor guest of their elite event: the only writer legitimate enough to give voice to the voiceless and figure a face for the faceless.
Myriam managed to get a grant to cover for one of the Very-Insignificant-People tickets, so that she could seat as close as possible to Jeanine, in first-row. She arrived first to the luxurious theater, half panicking and half purposeful.
Once inside the venue, deafened to death by the silence of the stage, about to resurrect like a phoenix phony quetzal, Myriam recalled the epigraph―technically, the epitaph―of what was soon to become Jeanine´s literally last book:
“What do you get when you cross a Mexically-ill loser with a society that appeases her and treats her like treasure?”