Ai Meja! Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada : Memories of old and new


Ahhh Capirotada…The smell and taste of it brings back memories of my grandmother Maria De La Luz (Lucy) collecting bread pieces, me wondering why and ends with a full belly and a smile.  As a child I wondered what the heck my grandmother was going to do with all those stale bread pieces saved in a plastic bag.  Finally she fesssed,  “Oh Meija, I’m going to make capirotada, it’ll be good, you just watch!”

My grandmother a few days after marriage in Fort Worth Texas. She had been making Capirotada for her brothers and sisters many years by this time. She probably learned from an aunt as her mother had been passed away many years by this time.

Now Capirotada was a word I could just not get my head around.  Capirotada.  Capiro-WHAT??  I was six years old.  I think I was only being fed two syllable words at school.  Yes Capirotada is a weird word and I have no idea what the origin or etymology of it  is.   That being said, I’ll probably look that up in a minute and add it to this post….  But Capirotada  is a  rich bread pudding derrived of collected and deliciously stale bread.  The bread can be french bread, white bread, wheat or sourdough.  If it’s stale it’s actually better due to the slight sour taste that it imparts in the final dish.  The bread is then soaked in three kinds of milk (for some people it’s preferable to use a mexican condensed milk, and this Mexi-gringa prefers “la Lechera”), and to the uninitiated, a very strange tomato / onion / pilloncillo / clove concoction which is boiled and reduced to a sauce with some tooth to it. 

Originally “Capirotada” was a typical spanish dessert using ingredients placed in layers. Originally there was Olive oil, Cheese and eggs, The second layer added the meats, probably partridge!  (shudder)….The given name comes from “Capirote”  which was a hat that that was worn by Spanish noble women in the early 15th century.  Capirote come from the Latin word “Cappa”  which is cape or cloak.  Today’s Mexican Capirotada is certainly cloaked!  Those bread pieces are hidden and layered with many ingredients!  As the dish was prepared for more of the population and ceased to be exclusive to nobles, meats were left out and sweet overtook savory.  At some point the dish gained more of a religious significance and was prepared during lent so as to provide Christian denizens of the middle ages, sustenance in the way of protein (derived from the cheese and nut ingredients).   As is still common today,  during Lent, meat per se, is not allowed.   The ingredients and recipes for Capirotada have been recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved to this day in the archives.

Pre-dating the Spanish appearance, Capirotada’s gastronomic ancestors can be traced back as far as Ancient Rome.  Seen in a dish called  “Sala Cattabia,”  The Romans used a bread for this casserole dish which was baked, covered with a layer of goat cheese, and then layered with chicken, cucumbers,  onions, and pine nuts.  This concoction was cooked with a dressing of raisins,  honey, pepper, and vinegar.  Spainards brought this or a dish like it to  ‘The new Country”  (that would be us  peeps here stateside), who eventually modified it to become the varied Capirotada we know today.  Capirotada is viewed by many Mexican and Mexican-American families as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday.  Holding special the symbolism of this ancient dessert, Mexicans believe capirotada’s bread represents the Body of Christ, the syrup, his blood, the cloves, the the nails of the cross.  They believe that the whole cinnamon sticks represent the wood of the cross.  Some say the  melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud. The truth is that a version of this dish was being served  in Spain at the time of the Conquest.  Here is where you imagine Conquistadores  abducting and  pillaging villagers and then feeding the stragglers dessert nice huh?  While the the conquest was vile and not to be glossed over by history books, the Spanish did bring changes in gastronomy and this one was good.    Mexican Capirotada has evolved to include specific types of Mexican ingredients including a special brown sugar called pilloncillo which is produced and prepared into a large cone and  Queso fresco, a Mexican farmer’s cheese.  The inclusion of  a sweet / savory  tomato ,onion, clove and cinnamon  broth begets a rich and delicious complexity within the pudding.  Some people add  peanuts or pineapple and even add festive cupcake sprinkles on the top of the entire dish.

There are alot of versions of bread pudding possibly all originating during biblical or Roman times, but the one nearest and dearest to my heart is my grandmother’s recipe, and yes it’s a MEXICAN bread pudding.  Although she is half Basque Spanish and half indigenous Mestizo Indian (of the Aztec blood line, a tribe called Tarahumara to be exact ),   The most important thing to me now about Capirotada is it’s power.  My grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and her memory is fast fading.  When talking about Easter last year, I asked her if she could remember her recipe for Capirotada, I was hoping I could glean a few of her special ingredients, to make sure I was making it right.  I really wanted to make sure and carry on a part of her wonderful food tradition, but I also just wanted to jog her memory.

The Author's son fist bumping with Lucy, his Great-Grandmother

I was desperate to jump start any other memories surrounded by food and family and friends.   Initially I was sad to find that she could not remember ingredients, but she remembered the act of making the capirotada!  In thinking about it, I realized that I could ‘just get a recipe online” (the most authentic I could find of course), and then query her on the particulars of it.  What would she remember? Maybe we could do a process of elimination.  Did she add peanuts? Well that was a yes.  Did she add pineapple? or other fruit?   I had to laugh because mostly she remembered  toasting the bread and layering the pan.  She didn’t remember any pineapple, but she did remember peanuts.  She was insulted when I asked her about sprinkles…so that was a no!  One day she said “Leche” (but I already knew that!)  Still one day she said “sauce” cebolla and tomato…So I selected the recipe with most of the ingredients she had mentioned, and was the oldest syle of preparation, and went to town.     I was so happy to hear some of these things coming back.  She knew that she loved to make Capirotada and and that everyone on the street would stop by to have some and talk.  Her friend Joyce was very clear in her memory, which was very nice to hear, as Joyce was her very best friends and unfortunately passed away in a very sad manner later, but my grandmother’s thoughts of her were happy and included how they used to talk over capirotada and a bit of iced tea.    Funny how older memories can be eased from Alzheimer’s patients via the memories of food.  I finally made my (grandmother’s)  capirotada.  The next day I returned to her “home” with an entire tray of the pudding.  I cut that first wonderful piece as the word got out to caregivers who crowded around.  I served a piece to my grandmother.  Her hand shook, he glasses slipped a little.  She pushed them back up.   She chewed and smiled, she said, “oh Mejia…THAT’S  THE BEST CAPIROTADA that I’ve EVER HAD! ”  Now… my grandmother is not one to dole out compliments easily… or exclusives like that.   She’s usually in her chair complaining and uttering the word “Bah!” when she can’t stand something, or if there’s a situation that she can’t control.  Or in frustration when her  opinion doesn’t get the proper response. So, I was filled with surprise and joy because…well…because she was!

There’s something about that savory bite of cheese hidden within the flavors of cinnamon, cloves and raisins. It’s a natural pairing, even if I did think it was strange as a child. boy how our tastes change as we grow.  This special batch of capirotada  seemed to spark, for my grandmother, a visual, multi-dimensional memory of a happier time. A time when she proudly fed family and friends and would sit down and chat in her kitchen.  A kitchen she misses so dearly!  All she has a is a little room now but it’s necessary for her care.   Funny how food carries such  intense experiential feelings.  Memories through food can be so useful for alzheimer’s patients and for all of us.   Now my grandmother is requesting that I make  her cocido!  and bunelos!   I’m pretty worried about re-creating those recipes,  but I’ll try …. just to help her remember….

"Lucy" about 1946

Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada

1 24-inch loaf of French bread, cubed and toasted (about six cups)
2 cups of brown sugar or 16 oz. of piloncillo
2 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup of raisins
½ cup of dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup of butter, melted
Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves together for 10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened and reduced.In a greased large cast-iron skillet or an 8×8 cake pan, place half the bread and pour over it half the melted butter. Toss to coat. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the syrup over the bread and toss to coat. Layer on top of the bread the cheese, pecans, raisins and dried apricots. Place the rest of the bread on top, drizzle over the remaining butter and then pour over the rest of the syrup. Make sure that each piece of bread is properly coated in syrup.Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for fifteen more minutes. I like to eat it warm.

Serves 8.

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My Post secret Synchronicity


On New Year’s Day, (okay yesterday)... I woke up and decided to visualize my new goals and resolutions. I decided that before I got to the real  angst and torture from which all sacrifice must come,  I would flounder in my old habits just a little longer.   I proceeded to roll out of bed at 1PM, eat cereal for my breakfast / lunch / afternoon snack.  (one bowl accounted for all of those meals, but lord it was a large one).  I then lain in an extremely hot bath hoping to settle the granola that was without a doubt nefariously swimming in my breadbasket like paunch.

After enjoying my scalding dip (which lasted approximately an hour), I dried off and took a seat next to my husband at our local Mexican food eatery, “The Whole Enchilada.”  I consumed “Street tacos.”

It did, in fact, cross my mind that i just paid $10.00 for a plate of ‘street tacos’ not on the ‘STREET but ‘in THE ‘KITCHEN’ of a corporate restaurant.  I probably should’ve  mosied back down the boulevard and bought some those tacos for about $2.00!   Yes, I did get a tiny bowl of frijoles de la hoya with a ‘pift’ of cacique cheese floating in it, but even that didn’t make it a moderate economic gain.  After whooshing the corporate cloaked ‘street tacos’ down my gullet,  Steve and I decided we would see the latest Coen Brothers’ movie, “True Grit.”  but with an hour to kill before our flick,  we decided to first go to our local bookstore use it like a library (as usual.)  Usually we purchase a coffee and cookie reading books in their entirety and taking pictures of weird titles.  We’d wait until the movie started or they kicked us out.  Whatever came first.

I hung in Cultural studies / social issues because I can’t get enough controversy, stories of intervention and political unrest.  I must say that I do have a ‘highbrow literary fantasy’ so sometimes I break character and skulk over to the literary fiction looking for affecting coming of age tales with political overtones set in middle America.  Ahem Thomas Pynchon..Ahem…

Steve dallied in Tech, computing, cooking or building.  But I was hoping to find something different in my usual domain, running my finger along several spines, the  new P.J. O’Rourke, the new Amy Goodman, 

some blasted books blasting Obama, some social book applauding Oprah, what it feels like to be half black and half white, how it feels to be transgender.  Partisan stuff, union stuff, struggles of women with eating disorders and how to talk to your child if he’s in a gang.  I noticed some opinion stuff on Kabul and then… there I spotted it.  “PostSecrets.” Intrigued in general with ‘secrets,’ I opened the book.  “PostSecrets” is a book created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard.

The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before.

Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.  I was intrigued to say the least.  I flipped through the book dazzled by the humor, the honesty and yes the sadness.

The sadness was striking and hard to digest at the same time since it was expressed with such artistic beauty.

Some of the revelations sworn to secrecy were familiar.  Yes, at times I do hate people who display some of the same traits that I do hate within myself.  But I read on.  I found people who felt ignored, unloved, bound and angry.  Some were flippant, using the platform / art piece / literary work as a context to simply goof on the idea of a secret through the use of exaggeration or minimalism.  There were ‘matter of fact secrets’ and then there were ones that we only have had inklings were occurring in some of our family friends and neighbors.

As I perused the expanse of artwork, now with Steve looking over my shoulder, I was turning the pages and found this!  It said, “I cheated on my husban with a woman and i’ll do it again.”  In a way I felt honored to be the unlikely and completely unexpected

recipient of one woman’s “secret.”  I felt sad that she (whomever she was), was obviously torn in her relationship, and that she was burdened with something she seemed to feel ashamed of.  I felt sorry for the unknowing party, the deceived, the husband.  This unknown woman had seen the book, gone into the bathroom which was only 10 steps from the end of the aisle where the section was located, and tore a sheet from the towel dispenser, authored her admission and left it for discovery.

I felt as though the sadness and beauty of this book had just reached out and touched me in reality, there on that shelf in that bookstore while killing time waiting for a Coen Brothers’ movie.

"I only ever played sports to feel like my father loved me."

No Marty & Elayne complex here! New Sounds at Taix!


Taix !!!! A place for old post-punk, Waiters, and pork pie hats (old location pictured)

The family name is pronounced like “Tex,”  As in “Tex and the Horseheads” someone might say. Actually I’d say that to help someone with the pronunciation but that’s me.  People have been known to almost come to fistacuffs arguing that the correct pronunciation is “Tays” but Mr. Raymond Taix settled the score many times over if you ever visited Taix.   Call it what you want but it’s the only french restaurant bar in Echo Park.  Dimly lit as the soft focus segment in a dreamy film sequence.  A dream that is real enough to enjoy.   Someone is whispering, “life is better in a soft light, it is to be taken in a slow drag, sitting in a high backed chair and small groups of friends crowded around a glowing table center candle”  At Taix, you could also easily conjure a 1959 Sammy Davis lounging earthily with friends as he enjoyed his stogie alternately flashing his wildly large white teeth.  Yah baby, it’s  “Lux-pack” but with a slight “hideous kinky” 1920’s prohibition aura still hanging like a hard fog.   The restaurant’s beginnings were seen during this tulmutuous time and on any given night it’s denizens can be equally quirky and mysterious.  Take a gander from your generous chair and find Hispanic Dodger fans, gay couples, blue-haired grannies, frivolously laughing and enjoying the vibe.  A few pork-pie hat-wearing, uber-hipsters looking to partake in the slow vibe and listen to music.

In order to guard against “Dresden Room Syndrome”  (Also known as the “Marty and Elayne Complex) Taix has recently employed the booking skills of  L.A. Musician Greg Franco, whom in 2006, L.A. Weekly called an “iconic auteur”  Franco, having earned that moniker as front man for L.A., for alt punk bands: The Blasphemous Yellow (1979-1985) and Ferdinand (1986-2002) and currently the New Zealand famous but L.A.based outfit, “Rough Church,” Franco has been a lover of Taix for twenty plus years.  A friend of the recently passed Ramond Taix,  his cuisine and love of good music.  Punk rockers, No Rockers, Low Brow, Americana Freak Folk, and people anyone with an earnest story and sound, can offer their soul against a backdrop of  realtors in bad suits hissing into cell phones, or Art dealers slunked down low, frock of darkish or silvery hair over one eye. Also skulking are Music industry dendrites, Record store barnacles, people ‘only there to see a friend’s band’ play” invariably mix with the “funky place’  that time forgot.  Some of the waitstaff are from your grandparent’s era some are in incredibly micro miniskirts with tattoos creeping round their shoulders and necks serving  exotic and ridiculously rich and meticulously prepared rattatoullie, or duck salad amongst other quintessentially French fare.  I’ve been told The creme brulee and  tart tartin are Tres magnifique!

If you have NEVER needed any “step’ programs, then you can make note of  this Secret Alcoholic tip!!!!!   At the beginning of the fiscal year, Taix corralls all the extra alcohol that didn’t sell well, and puts it to the right end of the bar!  HELLO LIQUID GARAGE SALE!!!  $3 no matter what time of day! Martini at 10AM?  no problem!  but drinking responsibly will ahem…keep you from having to do those meetings, if you know what I mean.  It’s a little bit like a Bitchen Bordello that doubles as an alt / indy music breeding ground.  The likes of Ferdinand, Patria Jacobs, Rough Church and many other local L.A. bands, singers and songwriters have taken in the french lounge mystique that is Taix and filled the air with song.  Tokyo Police club a darling of the

 

Tokyo Police Club played a gig here...

indy scene rocked Taix via the Culture Collide event.  Taix is a sonic crib with Escargot De Gourgogne if you will, a place where you run a good chance of seeing ‘so and so’  before they were… you know…signed and living in Palisades or Laurel Canyon trading kitchen remodeling tips with Anthony Keidis or some shit.  Taix is a little bit Vegas lounge  and a little bit  haunted mansion.   It’s definitely a LOT of  rock and roll!   Think High Fidelity with Marie De Salle singing a sweet vibe unto herself nursing some  sorrowful wicked beverage.   A true Los Angeles original.

Booking list coming soon!

There is plenty of street parking or you can valet for only $2.50.

Taix French Restaurant – 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026  Ph: 213.8.1265

~Christina Long

Find the folks mentioned at the following:

Rough Church @ http://roughchurch.com

Patria Jacobs @ http://patriaworld.com

http://Tokyopoliceclub.com

 

 

Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 484-1265

The Man On The Screen: Or…The Pedophile at the table next to you…


My husband and I were bantering about the ipad…. again…all the cool things it does and what’s going to happen with the stock etc., etc.,our usual conjecture..

the illustrious ipad...which I am salivating to buy...

tha handy dandy iphone....which changed my life....btw...

when we pulled up to The Whole Enchilada in Diamond Bar, CA I know, I know…Diamond Bar.. that should have been our first clue.) Now I’ve been told, but I didn’t listen… The saying is, NEVER , but NEVER, go to a restaurant where the name of the joint is a goofy play on words because It never ends well. You’re either quickly contributing to the sewer psi or you’re way to the local CVS to get some over-the-ounter concoction that could be used to tackle rotovirus (if it was packed in a wee-bit larger dose that is.) We chose TWE because the confines of this certified boring town have not afforded us anything palatable, challenging or just plain interesting. The Whole Enchilada is a virtual hotbed of authenticity (i lie), but comparied to El Torito…(just go with me here)…it is.

The Whole Enchilada. How many times have I said,

Basically it’s not as ‘huero” if you know what I mean. We wanted some semblance of real mexican food. This place ain’t exactly Tarahumara fare complete with tsguino, which I have been itching to try, but certainly good enough for our suburban corralled selves that night. We were fed up The Karaoke singing warbling denizens of El Torito, whom paraded their Evo’s and smeeevo’s and whale-tailed this and that, around for their ‘Snookie’s in half shirts, and eyelashes that seem to need cherry pickers to lift them once they chanced a flirty flutter in some Diamond Bar Bro’s face.

Their dangly mirrored earrings did not bother me not because of the style (they rather soothingly reminded me of the Solar Power facility out in Kramer Junciton as a matter of fact.)  Actually, they were so shiny that you could use ’em in the Sierra Madres to signal a fellow bandido that invaders were trekking too close to your pot farm! We were also tired of dodging boys in plugs and Testy trucks with lift kits high enough to help set the new tiles on my roof! I reasoned, If I got run over, would anyone know?

Anyhow when compared with El Torito, The Whole Enchilada just plain smacked of down home cooking! Not!!!…. but as I said, go with me. Remember I said ‘compared to’ that’s key. So Fan-Boy and Fan-Girl (myself and my partner in grime – Steve)… sit down with iphones out, and start checking out the stats on on our blogs. We check for email from clients and the friends that pursue them.

The lanky waiter that sat us takes our drink order and saunters off to seat another couple. I notice a bit of perfume, and then a man’s cologne as a sixy something couple is led to the booth right behind my husband. The smell of chips and the lemon slice that I am drizzling over it overwhelms me in my mad rush to expeditiously slather the chips with Tapatio and lemon I spill my coke, but not badly. It’s that kind of spill that is a gray area. I begin to salivate upon smelling the lemon and hot sauce…and even before I’m done as I think about the acidic pleasure I am about launch down my gullet. I look up from my voracious preparation at the sound of, “Honey…what am I going to eat? I mean you just killed all of the chips with acid and Tapatio!” Coming back to my regular table manners I remember that my husband does not like alot of salt, lemon OR Tapatio on his chips! Yes I was being selfish. I was hungry, talking, thinking, and well, just on ‘automatic pilot’ actually. “Sorry honey..I’ll call the waiter and get more, sorry.” While I am looking at my husband trying to explain my inappropriate food zealousness, I notice that the older man who was sat just behind Steve is staring at me. I mean really staring. Did he have a sensual penchant for the lemon drizzled atomic warhead flavored chips? Did he think that I was Gillian Anderson? Oh god please…I thought, not that again. He kept on staring. I looked away, then back again and yep…he was still there…staring. ‘Okay, this is weird, but I really want to enjoy my ‘close to real, sort of in a Diamond-Bar-huero-sort-of-way- food. I ignored this guy the stock power of Mecha Mook, for he had Laser Vision. He had real glowing eyes of doom. My hubby and I meandered through tons of different subject matter, we sort of approach conversations in a sort of free association way and nothing of off limits. It’s really fun, creative and never boring being with him. This time I tried to stay on the subject we were talking about but just couldn’t! Mecha Mook was done staring at me and was looking behind me creepily intent manner. We aren’t talking the type of looking that some people do. Looking to see who’s around, check out your surroundings, look to see or hear a smattering of what people are talking about in general. Some of us just look to take in our surroundings in general. Blasts of heat were coming form Mecha Mook’s eyes Now he had turned in his seat and was staring at the sides of two young girls’ heads.

Eye lasers baby, eye lasers!

I looked just beyond Steve at Mook’s wife and saw her bantering away about what sounded like some sort of “work issue” (this person said this and that person said that to supervisor so and so)… and Mook continuously nodded but continued to stare even craning his neck a bit to get a ‘better view’ of the girls, and later whatever was behind me. All the while I was listening to my husband, adding to our confab but stealing away small investigative glances at Mook and his wife. I knew something was askew and like a meerkat I was on task! I was gonna find out. I didn’t really know what I was looking for,  but I was collecting the data!   I was doing this because something was out of the ordinary and I am a gifted multi-tasker… (thanks ADD!!!! ) I finally fessed. ‘Honey..’ I recognize that guy behind you… WAIT!!! don’t look! …don’t turn around!!!…I am not sure if he’s been at the kids’ school…or if he lives on the street going up to our house…or what!…maybe I’ve just seen him in the grocery store…i’m not sure…but he was staring very intently at me when we first sat down and now at someone or something behind me.’ “Christina, you have probably seen him in one of the local grocery stores, or the bank…don’t worry about it.” “I don’t know, I know I’ve seen him somewhere…and here’s the weird thing, he just turned entirely to the side in his seat to stare of the two young girls in the booth across from he and his, I assume, wife.” “Oh, hell, maybe he’s one of those pedophile guys on that app that I downloaded on the iphone! Steve laughed,  half kidding but with a glint of a ‘what if’ situation playing on his face.   He was half expecting to be wrong. ‘Let’s see…wouldn’t that be weird if it was?…but i doubt it.’  he said. Steve pulled up the app and asked rme for his approximate age and general description

the app pictured. Though this is not the Mook, it

“He’s caucasian around 64 or 65 white hair, prominent chin, thin eyes and slightly droopy eyelids, hid eyes look blue. He doesn’t look especially nefarious, looks harmless really, so I really doubt he’s one of those guys.” Steve filters the app for our local area and spins the phone over to me. “Is this the guy? cuz you know I can’t turn around, it would be rude.” “Nope, not at all.” I begin to more closely describe his features. Another spin of the phone and my throat tightens, my eyes get wide and I know immediately, that I am staring right into a carbon copy of the face that is sitting right behind Steve! I want to scream “THAT’S HIM! OH MY GOD, THAT’S HIM!” but I say it quietly, quite expeditiously. and after the first word I am in control of my voice. I keep within a talking / whisper as I exclaim ‘THAT’S DEFINITELY HIM, RIGHT BEHIND YOU.’ Steve is believes me I can tell, but still doubts a bit too. It can be easy to mistake such a person as this due to his common face, his common eyes, but no, not that chin in conjunction with those eyes. The lids the irregularities of his face were noted and I knew in my gut that it was the same guy. “Does he have this prominent chin? these slanty eyes? this salt and pepper mustache ? says Steve. “Are you sure?” “YES, YES…” “Well then as soon as they finish and he gets up we should make the wait-staff aware. and yes. The restaurant has the right to refuse service to whomever they choose.” I wondered about the rights of someone who had done something as heinous as what Mook here did. Mook was and is “Headly, James E Headly to be exact. He was convicted of Lewd and lacivious acts wtih a child under fourteen years of age.

James R. Headley

Our app did not specify whether it was male or female that he molested, but that shouldn’t matter. When I say molested, I mean it in the most literal form of the word, “to bother.” James R. Headley was convicted of “Lewd or lascivious acts with a child under fourteen years of age.” I can construe that he probably did not rape his victim, but that leaves a multitude of other just as agregious acts that can fall under the lewd and lascivious category. Knowing this caused my stomach to turn. My mouth could no longer eat, my hands were shaking in anger, surprise and yes fear. Fear for the young girls that he had turned ninety degrees to stare at as they ate their albondigas soup and tortillas. They chatted about boyfriends and the android phone and he stared them down with lust as his lady friend (wife?) ignored his behavior which was at the very least rude to her. Did she know his past? Had she forgiven him? I can think of no possible innocuous situation that could land one in prison for these acts with a child. It’s reprehensible and knowing that any person man or woman would make these decisions to use his or her power, body and mind in the control and abuse of a child. And it’s very hard to sit near someone who has made these decisions to cause intentional, immense, mental, physical and life-long harm to a child. My husband called the waiter over and showed him the photo and listing on our phone via the App. Our waiter confirmed to my husband immediately that the man in the booth that had been sitting behind him was indeed the man on the screen. “YES! that’s the man! he’s a regular here! he always comes in!” “I can’t BELIEVE IT!” he continued. Clearly the waiter was a caring and responsive individual. I could see an anger beginning to run through his body. He began to move faster, talk faster. He said, “Oh my god, I’m sorry.” I told him..”It’s not your fault, it’s not the restaurant’s fault.” “I couldn’t eat my food, and I had a weird feeling about him, so we checked it out because he was just staring down all the women sitting in this area. You know not just glancing or even like a guy who was you know…enjoying looking a women in an innocent way, but in an angry, deep, staring uncomfortable way.” The waiter said he would tell the manager and they would decide what to do. Steve and I left and wondered what should be done.

While logic tells me that someone who has ‘paid their debt to society’ should be allowed to go out into society, I find it a hard pill to swallow. These people will forever combat the fear that they have generated in the society. To prey on anyone is agregious, unfogiving, but to target children is just worse. These are our protected spirits, our little loves. Our babies. The shunning attitudes that sex offenders encounter everywhere they go as their crime becomes known is just something they will have to deal with. That shunning, that anger, those reactions are a but one small consequence for the actions that were committed. I have children. We know the statistics about re-lapsing felons. By now we know that know that this Mr. Headley lives in our community. I was struck by how ‘average’ he looked. By looking at him I would not have pegged him as pedophile, which leads me to wonder how well our preconceived notions serve us. I was clued into this guys abnormal behavior, his movement, and that caused me to further scrutinize him. Finally I asked questions.

Since we had downloaded an app called “Offender Locater” by GoVision2020.com (available on the iphone and the ipad), we were able to recognize this man and have information at our fingertips about his past felonious behavior. Just think about how helpful this ap would be for children who walk home from school! Or who are at a newly independent age! I am all for giving our children the tools and resources to spot people who have a history of abuse and might pose a potential threat. Maybe educating our kids in self-defense isn’t enough. Maybe every kid should have an offender register at their fingertips. I am interested in hearing what you have to say about “The Man on the Screen” (The Pedophile at the table next to you.”) what would YOU do? Would you go back to the establishment if they decided that they would not bar him? Would you have confronted the man and shown him his data on the app? (My husband wanted to do this, but I thought it could’ve potentially started a fight)…Would you have simply moved your seat and not be bothered, thinking, ‘he paid his debt?’

I am an emotional thinker and a staunch believer in children’s rights and their welfare. Children should have protection in our society so that they can grow and become who and what they will be. That is one of our most important jobs in our society. This incident was traumatic for me. By the way... the person that James E. Headley was using his Mekarra Beam on was a small blonde fourteen-ish year old girl soccer player innocently having dinner with her family. Thanks for your comments. ~ Chrissylong.