April 28, 2012 | Crystal City, TX
When something is too good to be true, the observation is, Parece la mera verdad: it seems like the real truth. You use that phrase on late-spring mornings such as this, when you step outside and the air is cool and the steady southeasterly wind makes if a bit chillier. You enjoy the coolness and the cleanness of the morning – relish in it, even – because you know that in a few hours, summer-like heat will rudely push the coolness out and settle in, like boring relatives, until way past sunset.
Parece la mera verdad. You use it when your normally bratty kid is sitting still, minding his manners, every hair still in place, no spots or stains on his clothes. You enjoy his proper behavior because you know that in a few minutes the damn kid will have upset everything and everyone in your household.
Parece la mera verdad. You use it when your old carrucha purrs and hums as it rolls over mile after long tedious South Texas mile on your way to San Antonio or Eagle Pass. You appreciate its not misbehaving because you know that sooner or later, maybe on the trip there or the trip back or the next trip or the trip after that, the rusty clunker will say, ba, no más! and roll to the shoulder where it will gasp, sputter and choke as it dies meekly.
Parece la mera verdad. You use it when the out-of-town relatives come to visit and your borracho/marijuano of a husband behaves like the perfect mate and perfect host and perfect human. His behavior repulses you because it is so fake, but you embrace it because you know that as soon as la ralea leaves, or maybe even before that (if he can only behave like a human for so many hours) he will become his old obnoxious stinky self.
Parece la mera verdad. You use it when the neighborhood putita piously marches down the aisle to receive Holy Communion on Sunday morning, her hands clasped in silent prayer. You want to believe that this Sunday-morning-going-down-the-aisle person is the real thing – la mera verdad – but you know that before the week is over she will have snatched one more husband from an unsuspecting (or not) wife, only to return him a week or two later looking like a gata revolcada. (There’s an old expression, Es la misma gata nomas que revolcada – it’s the same old cat only after she’s been through a bit of the old dusting-up thing in the alley — to indicate that while a person’s appearance may be different, inside there is no change.)
Parece la mera verdad. You use when la comadre comes over for coffee and gossip, treating you as sweetly as pan dulce and you know that as soon as she walks out the door she’ll be trying to figure out which other comadre she’ll go see so she can talk about you.
Parece la mera verdad. You remember using it when the ranchero would come check up on your family as it was whacking away at the weeds in your sugar beet fields, and he acted so friendly, even uttering a few Spanish words (followed by a chuckle, always a chuckle). You embraced his generous demeanor even though you knew that everything else that came from him — pay, housing, working conditions — was anything but generous.
Parece la mera verdad. You use it when the slick politician comes knocking on your door, or greets you ever-so-warmly at the annual festival or outside your church, asking how your kids are, or how your sister is doing, and wanting to know if there is anything he can do for you. You are nice to him and return his warmth but you know that as soon as he goes back to Washington or Austin or the courthouse or city hall, he’ll be looking out for No. 1, and you know that you’re not No 1. You’re not even No. 1,000.
It’s time to go now. My sister is calling me to breakfast. It looks and smells so good. Parece la mera verdad. And it is.