Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul discovers Chef has been lying about an important tradition.
After spending 9 New Year’s Eves together, I just discovered that Chef has been lying to me. Part of being a member of a cross-cultural couple is adopting, or tolerating, the other one’s customs. And boy, December 31st is the day Chef lets it all hang out.
There are a whole set of rituals that Chef insists we undertake on New Year’s Eve. For good luck, we have to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight—one each as the bells chime. Then, for good fortune, we have to put money in our shoe and walk around outside, while for good travel karma, carrying an old bag of clothes, while for good gay karma, listening to Liza Minnelli’s New York, New York. And, the custom that started all the trouble—for love, revealing new red underwear that has been given to you by someone else that night.
Oh, I’m quite a sight all right hobbling around the streets of Mexico half-drunk, carrying an overnight bag, showing my panties and crooning, “If I can make it there!” I’m surprised I haven’t been arrested on suspicion of prostitution.
Here’s the problem with red underwear—I’m very specific about my style preferences, and surprisingly December doesn’t offer many acceptable options. The first year, I wasn’t pleased when Chef gave me a Santa-themed thong more appropriate for a stripper at a gay bar. The next year, I was equally unhappy with the enormous flannel reindeer boxers—was I grandpa?
Thankfully, when our friend Susan started traveling with us on New Year’s Eve, she was equally suspicious of someone just selecting under garments for her. So we made a pact to always go shopping together early, and pick out a pair for each other. Still, a good red one is hard to find—although the striped trunks at H&M have become my go-to choice.
Imagine my surprise then to be reading yesterday’s New York Times and discovering an article about how you can gauge the state of Mexico’s economy by the color of the underwear flying off the shelves. Turns out, there’s a choice. Red for love, and YELLOW for money. In this economy, citizens of Mexico are choosing YELLOW briefs in droves.
“All these years I’ve had a choice? I could have gone with yellow!” I yelled at Chef.
“You would have chosen money over love?” he answered, wounded.
“It’s been 9 years! We’ve got love. Maybe one of us could have done something for money!”
“But that’s why we put pesos in our shoe, for money. Besides, it’s fun to see you get stressed over red underwear! It’s part of our holiday tradition.”
That made me laugh. And I couldn’t argue with that, really. Complaining about red underwear has become part of my shtick. So, I’ll stick with red. Besides, yellow is definitely not my color.