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Sometimes I have no idea what gets into The Mom. I can just imagine the shambolic look these people cut as they emerged from some kind of minivan taxi in front of the chemist in Mexico. I feel fairly confident chemists near resorts or the border or wherever North Americans might descend can see people like The Mom coming a mile away. The Mom, first of all, does not have a poker face. She’d have been grinning like a kid with her hand stuck in the cookie jar, chocolate smeared all over her face.

And she does not know how to act casual and not draw attention to herself. in fact, it seems at times that her modus operandi is to draw as much attention to herself as humanly possible. She is, what I would call, a heat score. I mean, come on. A woman of a certain age, dressed either flamboyantly in some kind of brightly coloured flappy top complete with flappy hat, or else in some kind of standard-issue chino and t-shirt combo, standard-issue North American tourist. With sensible running shoes. I mean if I were a chemist in Mexico, I wouldn’t even have to look in the back on under the counter to know I did not have whatever it was she wanted. I wouldn’t even let her finish her question.

It would be a quick, Lo siento, yo no puede comprendar.

And that would be that.

I mean, part of the problem here is a lack of research on The Mom’s part. Sure, drug deals happen at Walmart, of course they do. But not at the pharmacy. They happen in the freaking car park. It’s not as though The Mom would’ve had to do a lot in the way of research here, having only to harken back to our high school days where we boasted of applying a rather enlightened approach to our purchasing power. I believe I recalled her, rather impressed at our ingenuity, with tales of the five dollar club, where everybody put in a fiver and things were distributed equally. We also convened in a supermarket parking lot because in the subururbs surely that’s what these things were for.

Having never been to Mexico myself, though I would love to visit one day, but not to one of the places where The Mom stays because they sound ghastly – I mean sure super luxurious but you don’t get to meet any local people, you don’t get to practice your Spanish, and you don’t really get to learn about the country or its culture or people. To me, I don’t see the point in doing any of that. This is also why The Mom never invites me on such jaunts. I get why they’re preferable, especially to the local people. Keeping all the annoying tourists in one spot is a great idea, and when I lived in London and worked near Covent Garden I often wished for such a place, but I would never want to visit one.

The other problem with The Mom’s plan here is that they went to a freaking Walmart. I mean, it’s Walmart. This is an American company. You’re not going to get anything interesting there are you? We don’t have Walmart here in the UK, but we have Asda which is run and owned by Walmart. I went to buy groceries there once. It freaked me out so much that I can’t go back. Everything was American but not in that way you’d expect when you haven’t been to the States in years and have this image of it created entirely by watching films and TV. And shopping in Trader Joe’s. I had expected everything to be pristine, the fruits and veggies larger than life, bright, gorgeous almost to the point of pornographic. They were not. They were miserable and small and the lighting was weird and made everything look funny. The bakery aisle was a great reason to never eat baked goods again – it was just deep fried sugar in different shapes. And it smelled funny. The meat was even weirder looking. Though they did have cornbread, which was nice, but I can make that myself. Anyhow my point is, it was terrible, as terrible as Walmart is even though it’s in a different country.

It’s like, sometimes you just want a Starbucks, and wherever you are in the world you can go into one and order the exact same thing and it’s exactly the same as it would be back home. That is Brand America. Consistent to a fault. Why a Mexican Walmart should be any different, and offer to sell you shit it won’t sell you at home is just crazy thinking.

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