I went to the great state of Nebraska with mi Linda to celebrate Thanksgiving with her familia. Once in Nebraska, the land of blonde hair and blue eyes, we went to the ranch of an uncle to have our holiday feast. I was the only Guatemalan on the ranch and perhaps the only Guatemalan in the great state of Nebraska. You may be asking why I precede the state’s name with the words: "great state of." Well, this is how it’s done in the great state of Nebraska.
On this trip, I was introduced to chewing tobacco. This is what the men (and some women I’m told) do in the great state of Nebraska. They put finely ground pieces of tobacco inside your bottom lip and spit into an empty soda bottle until it is half full and used as a prank on a victim that must go through life knowing he drank saliva mixed with chewing tobacco and perhaps some cigarette butts. It is, by far, one of the most vulgar activities that I have had the pleasure of witnessing in the great state of Nebraska. Did I partake in this activity? Yes.
I was given the Copenhagen brand of chewing tobacco because this was the "real man’s brand" and I didn’t want to seem like anything but. The first feeling of having the real man’s brand of Copenhagen chewing tobacco in your bottom lip is one of fire. It is as if lit a lighter on my bottom lip and spit intermittently to ease the pain. The vomit in the mouth is also a feeling I was not familiar with. When I first experienced vomit in my mouth, I held it there because mi Linda’s brothers did not seem to be spitting any vomit into their empty Coke bottles.
"El Guapo, you look pretty pale."
Yes, I’m sure I did look pretty pale. While I was concentrating on not vomiting, I also forgot to spit my tobacco and ended up swallowing the real man’s brand of Copenhagen chewing tobacco. Now the fire was in my stomach.
"Boy, what are you doing eating half of a lemon?"
The men in the family were all standing around examining the objects contained in my vomit. I did not remember eating half of a lemon, but there it was gleaming on the floor.
"El Guapo, is this your spit cup? There’s not spit in it."
My eyes moved upwards to meet the Midwestern giants crowding around me and all I could do was raise my eyebrows in a "I don’t know" sort of way.
"You Guatemalans are some sort of crazy breed swallowing Copenhagen. You’re supposed to spit not swallow."
The humor of that phrase was lost since it came from a rancher with a sun weathered face and a new flannel shirt.
I need some chips, but not now. Rest is what I need. I have, after all, just experienced the real man’s brand in the great state of Nebraska.