Christmas, the lizard and me

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS away from loved ones, which is to say family, something I once had but no longer have, well, if you don’t count my Mexican relatives, most of whom are like aliens to me and vice versa, was spent, if you also don’t count my time in the Air Force, and I don’t remember even one of those Christmases, was spent in a dive bar on Calle Cristo in Old San Juan in the company of an iguana.

It was roundabouts 1974, and I’d just arrived in San Juan, not knowing a single soul.

So there I was in this dive bar on a corner — I don’t recall the cross street — and I’d already downed a few, feeling the spirits, looking at the Christmas lights around the mirror in front of me, when I glanced down at the floor, and there sat the iguana sizing me up. Aside from the barkeep, the iguana and I were the only people present.

Yes, I’m counting the big lizard as people. It was Christmas.

New ImageNow you might think this is a sad Yuletide story, reeking of solitude and loneliness and all that, but actually I was quite content, having a good time. Maybe it was the rum and Coke, but whatever works in a pinch.

I’ve thought about that night almost every Christmas since, later ones that I spent with loved ones, and more recent ones that I’ve spent alone because almost all of my loved ones have died or disappeared.

I’ll be spending this Christmas Eve alone, something I’ve done in recent years, and I’m okay with it. It’s not like I’m a Christian or anything, celebrating the birth of Jesus. There’s also the fact that I love peace and quiet.

The first two, maybe three, Christmases after marrying my child bride, I made attempts to be a part of things, but Mexican things on Christmas Eve wander late into the night, far past my bedtime. I quit doing that, and the both of us are happier for it.

She either goes to the family hullabaloo downtown here or, sometimes, in the nearby state capital, depending on where the mob of them decides. She does not come home, getting little sleep and looking stunned all though Christmas Day. I, on the other hand, get a nice night of sleep and feel just fine on Christmas Day.

Then, one week later, they — and I — do it all over again for New Year’s Eve.

So I’m be sailing solo this evening. Next Sunday too.

For those of you who embrace Christmas either for the birth of the Baby Jesus or for those gifts you’ll be getting, or both, I wish you well.

Like me, get a good night’s sleep. Maybe I’ll dream of that iguana, the rum and Coke and the dive bar on Calle Cristo, the warm Yule night air of the Caribbean.

A Christmas long past.

New and improved

typewriter

LOTS OF related websites are connected here. There are links in the right-side column. History has shown me that few folks pay them any mind in spite of their often being more fascinating than what you see here in the middle space.

I’ve not been happy with one of those related pages for quite some time. Newspaper Days. Recently, a nice woman clicked “like” on it, and that brought the page to my attention.

Still didn’t like it, so I zapped it.

In its place is a new and improved version of my Newspaper Days. More info, more photos, better written. Think of it as a Prius instead of a Ford Fairlane.

For folks who’ve been passing by the Moon for more than a short spell, you already know that I am a retired newspaperman. Not a journalist, a newspaperman. Having never taken a journalism course in my life, how could I be a journalist? I did work for newspapers for 30 years, however. Newspaperman.

I never had delusions of grandeur.

When I got into that now-discredited occupation, having studied journalism frequently was not a requirement. Being fairly sober and being able to stand up straight and construct a reasonably coherent sentence often was enough.

And being male. Getting hired in newsrooms if you weren’t a guy was pretty much impossible with one exception: society pages. Lots of ladies in the Society Department.

It’s called Lifestyle now. Or simply Style.

In Newspaper Days, I follow my checkered career from New Orleans to San Juan, back to New Orleans and then to Houston, Texas, where I spent the entire second half of my newspapering life. It was a good gig, so I stayed 15 years.

The best was San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the briefest even though I worked there on two separate occasions in the early to mid-1970s for a bit under two years total.

This is a photo of where I lived the second stay:

new-image.jpg
My penthouse was just off to the left, one or two buildings. Sweet, huh?

You can see the news business was good to me. The pay was okay too. I did not get rich, but I did retire debt-free to Mexico when I was just 55 years old. Wife-free too.

Take a look at the longer version, which gets into booze, suicides, mangy bars, mangy dogs, Cuban coffee, the effects of political correctness, the effects of Watergate. And there are my mugshots on all my press passes save one. Cute!

Newspaper days

I WAS A newspaperman for about 30 years before I retired at age 55 in late 1999. I never called myself a journalist, and I’ve never taken even one journalism course.

I’ve also been a taxi driver, a loan shark and a repo man.

But it was newspapering that I was best at.

There’s a link in the right-side column that takes you to Newspaper Days, a description of my decades in that world. It was a profession I fell into, just one more path in a life that’s been almost entirely haphazard.

Take a look if you have some spare moments. It’s a quick tour through exotic places like San Juan and New Orleans, and even haircuts in the Virgin Islands.

You’ll also encounter mangy dogs, suicides, alcoholism, unionism, motorcycles, political correctness, feminist zealotry, homosexuality, paste pots and old typewriters.

Living with tourists

scene
I shot this photo on a sunny day recently.

MUCH OF MY life has been spent surrounded by tourists. There was the 18 years in New Orleans, and now the 17 years in my Mexican mountain town.

It adds up to about half my life. The rest of my adult life was spent almost entirely in Houston, Texas, which is also a swell place to live, or it was when I left.

Not too touristy though.

I also lived almost almost two years in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is so touristy that cruise ships harbor there.

People come to tourist towns, look around, and say, boy, it must be great to live here. Guess what? It is.

I landed in New Orleans by pure happenstance. But I came to my mountain town deliberately. I will die here.

Surrounded by tourists.