Lazens Abroad

Kickin’ it Old School in San Miguel de Allende


Lazens Von Trapp

When visiting a foreign country, always seek opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can participate in artistic events to experience the excitement of indiginous customs, language and history.

For instance, consider us, the Lazens, playing virtually every single significant part except the title role in San Miguel’s upcoming production of Auntie Mame.

How better to lay bare the tragic echoes of Mexico’s tortured colonial past than in the form of a high-society comedy of manners set in inter-war Manhattan?

It began with Max’s audition for the role of young Patrick, Mame’s unexpectantly orphaned nephew.

We knew that Max had the charisma and singing voice for the part. He had two other unique advantages among the dozen children to try out. (1) He is male. (2) He speaks English.

The director was fairly trembling with excitement at the prospect of having a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy with a keen sense of humor and perfect pitch who would not be constrained to reciting his lines phonetically.

As we discussed Max’s limitless potential, I noticed her observing me with still-ravenous eyes.

Did I know any adults who might be interested in participating? Someone about my about my height, weight and hair color?

And now we are all in the play. Both boys to play Patrick on alternating nights, Catherine as wholesome, engagement-breaking Pegeen Ryan, and me as–wait for it…

Twenty-year old, grown-up WASP-to-the-core Patrick.

As the director gave me my part I thought what a discomfiting experience it is to feel so flattered at the same moment that you are losing all confidence in the professional competence of the person flattering you.

For reference, here is what Patrick is supposed to look like.

And here is the look that will forevermore define the role after January of 2009.

The Keep Mexico Fucking Act

I believe this is the name of the new legislation here that dictates free Viagra be dispensed to men 70 and older.

Who will now say this is not a great country?

I thought I would take an afternoon to meet some of the beneficiaries of this public health initiative.

Look! Here come a couple now!

You can just tell–they are ready to go.

Some of you might see this as more evidence that Mexico is hopelessly stunted. A stagnant patriarchal backwater where you can distinguish women from burros because the women are the ones carrying the heavy stuff. Where a man can obtain a divorce if he finds his wife’s feet unbecoming, and a women can do the same if her man is dead–and she can produce the corpse for a judge and at least five witnesses.

Or do you find it disgusting that teachers are paid $400 a month, yet the government can find money to insure that the nation’s octogenarians will be mechanically compelled to copulate incessantly rather than get the sleep they desperately need, and would surely prefer in any case?

But an ameliorating circumstance–such couplings will produce no offspring. So at least those underpaid teachers won’t have to deal with any more than the 60 kids at a time they’re saddled with now.

And of course, this commitment to the eradication of ED is not a gift for the men. Rather it’s one for the women.

Just look at the anticipation…

A special note to our militant feminist readers, at this moment popping a corpuscle. How could I make light of something emblematic of the abuse and neglect that women have suffered at the hands of men since prehistory?

Surely you should write a scathing comment.

Just… don’t. Let it go.

Otherwise, I will leave your comment right where you wrote it. For all to see. Forever.

And it will not age well.

The Criminal Justice System

In Mexico, when people have done something very bad, they are dressed up in red pantalones and hauled up a towering pole by ropes tied around their feet.

A man sits on top of the pole and plays a flute for a long time; a song that means: These men have been bad. Let us make a spectacle of them so that your children will lead virtuous lives.

Next, the flute player kicks the men off the pole, and the tower begins to slowly revolve…

…and revolve…

…until the bodies come to rest upon the high tension wires, where they smoke and smolder until they are devoured by Opossums.

I am told that this partially explains why the electricity is so unreliable here.

In Mexico, drug lords roam the streets, the police are involved in kidnapping and extortion, and everyone seems just fine with that. It is not clear what you can do that is so bad that you will be sent up the pole.

City of Magic!

San Miguel is a magical place, filled with fascinating people, rich cultural heritage, and countless attractions of historical significance.

This is the ass crack of the woman sitting across from us at lunch last weekend.

Picture taken AFTER she had hiked up her pants!

Picture taken AFTER she had hiked up her pants!

NOTE: Great photography is an art. Images like these are best captured by making it appear that you are reviewing photos already taken, wildly and pointlessly gesticulating with the camera in your hand while having a conversation, or–well, pretty much anything other than taking a picture of someone’s ass.

Best dog ever!

Our new very special friend. With apologies to the Guernz, and to Chuck…


Where we most certainly do not live

…Nor could ever afford to.

We have new friends! Michael and Michelin are retired Canadians who live outside of town in a house that bears no resemblance to ours.

Here’s how the other half live:

And here’s how our children wished they lived every day:

Where we do live

You know that crazy looking house from the first post? That postcard view that serves as the banner for this site? Those hedonistic bathrooms?


Sure that house was beautiful, but it was for showin’, not for blowin’. And then the electricity went out one night and it took about five minutes for the neighborhood to devolve into something akin to the Watts riots. The charming, smiling Mexican teenagers of hours earlier were hurling bottles against the walls of our compound, pounding on our gates and taunting the gringos.

I locked up tight and slept with a knife next to the bed.

And then we got out.

Now our view is of a vacant lot with a row of half constructed houses. These will be completed, we are assured, “manana.” A Mexican expression which it turns out means “not in your lifetime, buddy.”

But it’s much quieter and safer. We’re just a short hop from the Hamburgesa–where, if you have any instinct for self-preservation, you will definitely not eat, and MacDonalds, which is not for eating, but for paying $50 to send or recieve a postcard.

And there’s Kike’s, the grocery store. Out front is dilapidated trampoline unencumbered by a safety net, where hordes of Mexican toddlers blithely frolic and white children regularly plummet to the asphalt beneath and sustain life-altering head injuries.

This is true.

Now that I think of it, we mentioned the new house already and showed off the beautiful leopardskin patterned sheets.

When we first moved in, there was a general filth issue, partially attributable to the only type of housepet that Catherine likes less than hamsters: cats. Luckily, only one room had carpeting that could serve as headquarters for cat piss and the resulting stench.

Unluckily, that one patch of carpeting was enough to service the whole house with it’s poisonous fumes.

The owners were kind enough to pay for a professional cleaning service to come in and steam clean the rug.

Contents of bucket suitable for bacterialogical warfare.

Contents of bucket suitable for bacteriological warfare.

Here’s the nice man who cleaned it showing off the swill that came out of that rug.

See that smile? It says something, how unphased Mexicans are when gringos make inexplicable requests like, “Ooh, wait, I need to take a picture of that nasty water.”

The cleaning was not a success. Adding steam to that rug did not kill the smell. It revivified it. The smell developed fangs and claws. It acquired the ability to project itself to remote corners of the house tracklessly, much as a master ventriloquist throws his voice, or as particles might pass through a wormhole to manifest lightyears from their source.

We had the rug ripped out and a nice fake wood floor put in. All better.

children love fire

…..and any activity that isn’t at least sort of dangerous is just no fun. Mexicans know and appreciate this more than americans do. I remember when the kids used to get in trouble for running on the playground in Maplewood. Or chasing. There was an episode of harmless pantsing at recess, and Jacob thought it perfectly fitting that the perpetrator was subsequently suspended. After all, Jacob’s butt had been exposed for all to see.

Imagine my surprise, when during a recent visit to the school, the PE teacher decided to liven up recess with a group “jumping activity”. He pulled a rope out of a shed, and proceeded to tie rags along its length. He then took a rusty can of kerosene and haphazardly saturated the rags and the ground below it.

The children roared with delight when, with a flourish, he tossed a match onto the rope, and it burst into flames.

While Max and Evelyn rushed to join the line forming behind it, Jacob whispered in my ear: “This is fucking awesome.”

I watched in shock, as each child after another leaped over the rope… the teacher raised it ever higher to raise the level of difficulty.  Sometimes, a spark would fly from the rope and ignite some of the kerosene that had spilled on to the ground.

Paroxysms of unbridled ecstasy.

Until a 1st grader fell on top of the rope and burned his stomach.

I watched as he was led into a nearby classroom by a teacher holding a freshly picked stalk of aloe and assumed that the activity had come to an end.

It hadn’t.

The jumping continued… only until the last bit of fire had consumed the now charred remains of the rags, and the rope fell apart into short useless lengths.


We’re in a New House

As beautiful as our house was, it was in a bit of a dicey neighborhood, it was dark, and it lacked certain comforts.

So we’ve left our maginificent view of the town behind in favor of more prosaic advantages. Like a dishwasher.

This is not a dedicated rental house. It has all the benefits of a home that has been lived in, and all the, umm, special touches as well.

Here’s what we found when we peeled back the bedspread:

Cate’s comment: “That is so wrong, for so many reasons.”

Coffee Maker

This. Changes. Everything.

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