"T?¡o Juan, tell me, from that egg-shaped head of yours, do you think I could find love around here or do I have to go outside of East Los?"
"'The first sigh of love is the last of wisdom.'"
"Not even. A dude called Antoine Bret who lived before you or even me."
"That's when people had nothing to do but go around saying stuff."
"Listen and learn."
"I listen but don't hear anything. It's like hearing some dog barking."
"What I am trying to impart to you before I gallop out of here is that look before you leap. Look both ways before you cross. Don't count your pollos before they hatch."
I scratched my head then my knee.
"You either like a girl or you don't," I said, logically going toe-to-toe with him.
"A better truism was never spoken by any man in or out of this barrio."
"Then what's your beef?"
"The proof is in the pozole. It will come together if it is meant to be."
"T?¡o Juan, you have helped me in the past, but now I think you are saying things any toddler can see between slobberings."
"But you are not seeing."
The old bato got up to leave but first looked at me as if I were a cucaracha strolling across a pie he had just baked.
"T?¡o Juan, this girl out of nowhere asked me to help her start her car.
Did she ask me to help her with her car because she wanted help or because she wanted my help?"
T?¡o Juan had a way of advising you, but he always liked to give you a good [i]patada first. I thought that took away from his otherwise rock-solid advice.
"What you should do is give her some breathing room. Women have a way of letting you know to try again. Never forget, they are in control. You can stand on your head on her front yard and blow besos her way, but if she didn't invite you to stand on your cabeza and blow kisses her way on her front yard, you could die there on your head on her front yard blowing kisses her way."
"T?¡a Juan, you're still wrong."
"I can only impart my own experience, knowledge and l?ístimas. As far as your doubts, 'I leave to those who are fond of solving doubt.' Lord Byron wrote that one balmy afternoon as he picnicked on a Greek hillside with some lovely lass."
T?¡o Juan departed, leaving me in doubt.
The telephone rang.
"Hello," I said with a smile as my thoughts lay at the feet of the angel Rosie.
"Gusano, let me talk to that viejo." The gravely voice and the "gusano" greeting told me it could only be my cherished T?¡a Josefina.
"My T?¡a, my guide through everlasting pain and grief, my--"
"Your left ojo," she shot back. "Shut up and listen."
"Hey, your command is my wish, Auntie."
"Where is T?¡o Juan?"
"Off to share that cerebro of his with humanity."
"Artie, if you were not my sobrino, and the most brainless person on your block along with my sympathy for the feeble-minded, I would call you a juicy name and after that just consider you a bad memory."
"I thought I was already privileged to receive your verbal abuse without pause or restraint."
"No, many times I had very good names to call you but held back because blood is thicker than mole. You were so depraved at seventeen that I am so glad you have given up trying to be any worse. So where is the viejo?
"He went to a lecture," I said politely, ignoring her words which I knew somewhere in her tired soul she really did not mean.
"About some viejos who lived long ago.
"He likes viejos who lived long ago."
"He should pay more attention to the living and forget the dead. I'll be right over."
Before I could tell her to wait a few months, she hung up.