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The following is an excerpt from an unproduced play I wrote called the Gangs of San Miguel. The picture is a clue to the script.

The door opens and in walks two women with scarf Burkas on under straw hats, floor length skirts, and lots of jewelry. 

SKYLAR

I will tell you later but first, I have customers to deal with.


The ladies pause at each picture and Skylar goes over to them for a brief chat and returns to Evelyn

 Evelyn

Why are they wearing scarves covering their faces?  I didn’t know there were Muslims in Mexico?  Is that a Burka.

SKYLAR

So much to learn and so little time.  They are noviates.

Evelyn

They are nuns? Dressed like that.

SKYLAR

No, no, not noviates for a nunnery but into a very popular Gang.
Evelyn

They are in a gang and they have masks on.  That means only one thing back home. They going to rob us?  What should we do?

(She begins to gather up the guidebooks and Atencion)

SKYLAR

Nothing.  I said the Gangs of San Miguel are good gangs.  There will be no violence.

(She whispers to Evelyn)

They have just had facelifts.

Evelyn

They just had Facelifts and are part of a gang.  That doesn’t make sense.

SKYLAR

Do you know what Day of the Dead is?

Evelyn

Yes November 2. Everyone goes the cemetery and decorates graves.  I see skeleton statues all over town celebrating it.

SKYLAR

No, no that is what the guidebook says.  But that is not really what it is.

Evelyn

What is it then?

SKYLAR

Do you know who La Catrina is?

Evelyn

Yes isn’t she the patron saint for the Day of the Dead.  A very, very thin almost skeleton like old lady.  They sell little statues of her all over town in the markets.

SKYLAR

No, the La Catrina statues are created to honor famous ladies who have had facelifts – like Nancy Reagan and Leona Helmsley and our Heroine – Joan Rivers.

Evelyn

You mean they have nothing to do with Day of the Dead.

SKYLAR

Sort of but the expats of San Miguel have changed many of the local customs – sort of Americanized them so they don’t seem quite as foreign to us.  November 2 in San Miguel is the National Day to celebrate Facelifts.

Evelyn

Oh, I did notice that a lot of women here with high cheekbones and skinned pulled tight. I thought there were sick.

SKYLAR

Not sick just thin.  These ladies have come to San Miguel to look like Catrina and the burka covers the scars until their reveal day.  Then can join the ever so slim Day of the Dead Gang.

evelyn

Oh, so that is why they are noviates?

skylar

Yes.  You know we can’t tell them apart.

Evelyn

Yes they do all look the same.

SKYLAR

That is the miracles of Plastic Surgery here.  It is like the Stepford Wives but more like the Stepford Grandmothers.  Another rule, never, never use a personal name in a conversation with a member of the Day of the Dead.  They are all called Darling.

Evelyn

Why?

SKYLAR

Once they have a facelift we have no idea who they are.  I have lost several friends to the Day of the Dead Gang.  If I didn’t know where they lived I could never find them in a crowd.  I always turn the other way when I see one coming down the street because I have no idea if it Sara, or Corinne or Carole. It could be anyone and they all talk the same way.  In fact you can hear voices but you can’t see any lips moving.

evelyn

Why don’t their lips move?

skylar

Okay put you hands on the side of your face and pull back.

(Evelyn put her hands on the side of her face and pulls back)


Now try to say something.

(Evelyn mumbles and then removes her hands)

evelyn

I couldn’t say a word.  My skin was too tight.

skylar

So you understand why when we avoid them. You can’t understand a word they say.  We just say “Darling, you look marvelous.” And we think they smile back but their faces don’t move much so we aren’t even sure if they recognize us. Imagine being unable to communicate or have any expression in your face. Just wide open eyes and a mumble or two.

That is why I only meet them in their houses because then I know who they are.  And I never go a Day of the Dead Gang Party.  You just go Darling this and Darling that and have no idea of what they have said.  As they faces relax words come but imagine enforced silence for months.

Evelyn

Have you had plastic Surgery?

SKYLAR cups her breasts

SKYLAR

Maybe

The Burka women walk out