From the Archives: The Night Before Christmas (1996)

From Chef Ra’s psychedelic kitchen. Happy holidays!
Christmas
High Times Magazine, December 1996

Tonight I promised myself I would slide down to the local Mexican joint and “Wolf Down” some serious Tacos. I love Mexican food. My Grandmother lived in San Antonio all of her life. She lived in harmony and respect with her Mexican neighbors, and learned to cook their cuisine. She would fix these huge Mexican dinners every Friday night, and I was her “Number One Grandson,” so I got DeLuxe Chow-Down. But now that she is no longer with us, I am resigned to finding a commercial establishment to satisfy my cravings.

The story begins in the usual Chef RA fashion. A bag of Mexican-Grown Michoacan was burning a hole in my pocket. Her hair was Black as the December night and she had brown eyes that pierced your soul like the sharp stars in the frozen firmament. Little did I know that my life would hang in the balance on that cold December night long ago on which I learned the power of LATIN LOVE in this season of “Fleece Nevada.” I owe her a great debt for saving my life on that fateful night….

The Munchies started to swell up from within me as I finished off a huge spliff of that Michoacan. I wanted to sprinkle some garlic, Cilantro, CHILI, Salsa, onion and a few MAGIC MUSHROOMS on top of Christmas Eve dinner. You know what I mean? A little of the Chef RA culinary treatment on that plate of Rice and Beans! Forget the Raspberry vinaigrette on salad greens! It’s time to go South Of The Border without ever leaving the dinner table. But tonight if I was going to eat some good Mexican food. I’d have to dine out at the local joint.

Tacos, Tacos, you need Tacos!” the Little Devil On My Shoulders exclaimed. Immediately my rotund Beer Belly began to growl. My well-developed Pizza Butt needed another infusion of CHOLESTEROL! A mammoth plate of rich, cheesy, beany Mexican Food! Anticipating the frigid Chicago night air, I donned large baggy pants, my Goose-Down Jacket (makes me look like “Pop’n’Fresh” the Doughboy), and for the crowning touch, a Flaming Red “DREAD BERET.”

I rolled another spliff for the long walk to a Mexican Restaurant that a friend had told me about called “El Presidente.” Normally I don’t FLASH my DREADS in Public, but at night I let them down, and walk the street with the best Pimpin’, Guiding Stride Steps I can come up with. (Helps keep away the “Muggers” to look as deranged as THEY are.) Of course there’s a downside to my act, because it attracts “LA POLICIA.” But when the Cops got tired of being my personal escort, like the mouse when the cat’s away I fired up that JOINT!

The warm exotic smells of spicy food from the door of El Presidente beckoned me like FUNKY SEX. I sat down at a table near the jukebox. I could see the Chef in the downhome kitchen cooking foods in castiron skillets. The waitress came to my table with a menu and started laughing. “Your eyes are SOoooo RED. Sonior!”

“Oh, I got a little Smoke In My Eyes from the city bus standing at the corner,” I said. “Sure.” she grinned. “What are you going to EAT?” “I think I’ll have the Spicy Black Beans ‘N Garlic Rice and a few TACOooos….”

No sooner was the word out of my mouth than a beautiful Latin Daughter walked through the door and sat down right next to me. I had to say something to her because she seemed as LONELY as I. “Que Pasa?” I asked in Afro-Anglo Ghettoese. “Nada.” she said.

“I don’t want you to think I’m trying to pick you up or being the Sexist Pig, but would you mind sitting with me? Although I am sometimes misunderstood. I’m really the SENSITIVE MALE TYPE!” (I ACTUALLY SAID THAT!)

“Sure. Man, I’ll join you.” It was like a CHRISTMAS PRESENT come true! We ordered a great meal, played the jukebox and had a great intelligent conversation. We spoke of Politics, Culture. Race, and Revolution. It was OUR WORLD that night, and it was COOL.

But the Real World was to come crashing down on us. A small group of guys came into the restaurant. I really didn’t pay much attention to them, but one of them came up to play the jukebox. He kept looking over at me while he was playing the box. Then his Boys I came over and started BUZZIN’, talkin’ I TRASH in front of the LADY I was with! I “What’s wetch yu. Maaaan?”

“Just having a good time, Brother.” I said. “Well, we don’ like yu HAT, Maaaan.” Maria whispered to me that they thought because of the RED BERET I was a LATIN GANG MEMBER.

“Hey Dude. I’m just a lonely, poor, All American Dread.”

“Yeah, shurr, and you trine to take OUR WOMEN, too!” (Where have I heard this before?)

To make a long story short, the Natives were Getting Very Restless with me and my Date. She murmured some thick Spanish to them and grabbed my hand: “Let’s bolt the FUCK outta HERE!” We did a quickstep through the door with the “Bandidoes” hot on our asses! Across the street we leapt into her rusted out Chevy. She fired it up, spun a FISHTAIL around, and as the fellas were slinging bottles at us she waved at them, shrieking: “MOSQUITOES! Felice Navidad, you POQUITO MOSQUITOES!” Then she kissed me on the cheek and promised, “I have a wonderful Christmas Present for you. Let’s go UNWRAP it….”

High Times Magazine, December 1996

Read the full issue here.

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