The Mexican dream went something like this: Talia’s dad is dead, and what’s less like a dead dad than Pina Coladas on the beach, maybe some Mayan ruins, some of the less morbid ones. It was supposed to be just me and Maggie but we needed to get her out of it, her shredded family, the eulogies suggested by every park and school and supermarket. The whole city full of so sorry with Talia in the middle, sitting cross-legged on the kitchen bench among the funeral programs and the flowers, gorging herself on cheeses sent by the sympathetic.
In the summer days of 2010, Linh squatted in the back of the kitchen and pressed her bare back to the stone sink. Customers stopped coming in and even the ice melted in their tubs of sweet drinks in the fridge. At the end of the days, cubes of grass jelly shrivelled, growing wrinkled layers of film on their sides and Linh had to throw it all into the bushes at the back of the cafe.
The woman I knew best, of course, was my own mother. I could see my hips, legs and breasts becoming hers, and I heard her every self-abasement as my own. She’d take up walking regimes, or cut out bread for a month, and then on weeknights I’d come into the kitchen to find she’d caved and drunk an entire bottle of white wine. It was a cliche, a stock-standard Electra complex, but there was no way in hell I was going to become her.
There is something sinister about Verónica’s assertion that the film is based on reality. It seems it was inspired by events that occurred in Madrid in 1991 – its major claim to truth is that it uses an actual police report from the incident, in which an officer reports something to the effect that ‘inexplicable phenomena’ occurred at the house where events occurred. Apparently, residents of the house were equally convinced of the supernatural.
There is a growing wave of back-to-the-land millennials seeking to engage with a slower, more humble, more natural lifestyle that look towards agricultural self-sufficiency – but questions of education and options (often socioeconomic in nature) are pivotal here. Not only does such thinking show a glaring lack of historical reckoning, it also reveals that the modern appropriation of peasantry hides a warped understanding of class, because peasantry was never about romantic walks behind the plow and gleaning fallen fruit.