Monday, June 4, 2012

Piñata Grande

Everything, so they say, is bigger in Texas. I was hoping that applied mostly to hair, but either the heyday of massive bouffants has passed, or I'm traveling in the wrong circles. For a while, my best illustration of Texas-sized things was the Mexican restaurant where the tortilla chips were each half a tortilla. Now, however, I would like to pass the crown to the single largest piñata I have ever seen.

My mother used to fill piñatas for the last day of school, the name of every kid in her class written on a brown paper bag filled with kazoos and finger puppets. In Iowa I saw piñatas hung indoors and out, always big enough a grown person could expect to land a hit on a crepe paper side instead of swinging into the nearby television. But in Texas I met a piñata as tall as I am and wide as my wingspan, plus a foot deep. It was covered in big pink pieces of crate paper pushed into rose shapes over a big heart attached to a small rectangular base. If there was any irony that it took the diminutive Tinkerbell as its theme, I was too busy estimating how many human bodies would fit inside to notice. 

The 16-year-old birthday girl proudly announced she had filled it with five pounds of candy, and I thought why stop there? This was a piñata that didn't fit in a car. A piñata you might jump out of like a cake. Why just Ring Pops and Mexican mango suckers covered in hot chiles powder? Why not a month's worth of groceries of a lifetime supply of bikinis? It was only a question of how much weight the tree limb could support.

As the teenagers went at it with a bat and a stick and a long flat piece of fencing, an adult mentioned to me that the first piñatas were made of a thin ceramic, and I imagined how those piñatas must have been all shatter and shard, even as I watched this one thumped and smacked until its aggressors changed weapons and it was summarily slashed and stabbed. Progress was so slow there were calls to raise the piñata up to the canopy and let the teenage girls jump on and hang from its base until something tore loose. That seemed right to me, a collective savagery against this behemoth that would not die, but eventually one teenage boy brought it down, and no one seemed to have energy left to race for its spoils.

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