One of my favorite things to write about here on the blog is stories of interesting places we’ve found on our travels. Traveling regularly is one of my big life goals and every new spot that we visit gets me a little closer to that big dream. As we see new places, I’m always looking for something cool and different to experience and most of the time I’m thinking about it from the perspective of a potential blog post. I do this mainly because this blog will be how I look back and reminisce. I also love sharing my experiences.
When we walk in to a new place, I immediately look about the room in search of potential blog photos. I’m usually already writing the post in my head, and I’m searching for things that I’ll want to remember or share. Most of the time, I’ll immediately know whether an experience will be one that I share or not. This day, I was wrong.
I snapped a quick photo of the exterior of this quaint restaurant in Magnolia, Mississippi before stepping inside. It looked promising. Shortly after walking in, I changed my mind. I actually said to Matthew, “I won’t be blogging about this one.” Something about the erratically scattered butterfly décor and plastic tablecloths just didn’t give me the warm and fuzzy, I’ll-blog-about-this feeling. We were starving and in the middle of nowhere, so we sat down to eat anyway. Shortly after sitting down, I realized that this was indeed going to be an experience that I wrote about. Not only that, it was going to be an experience that I never forgot and probably told stories of for years to come.
These wouldn’t be stories of that “adorable little spot with the cool, artsy vibe.” We wouldn’t reminisce of “that quiet place on the corner.” Instead, we will always think of and remember that bad ass restaurant owner that said exactly what crossed her mind. Before you read any further, I’ll warn you – there’s a lot of profanity involved. If you have sensitive eyes, you’ll probably want to skip this post. That was your warning. Read on at your own risk.
Not long after we were seated, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation from a nearby table. There was lots of laughter and you could tell that a thick, Columbian/Cajun accent was the source of the comedic relief. I missed most of the conversation. However, I was fully tuned in after hearing her say:
“He said, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ I said, ‘Shit, I ain’t scared. I’ll chop your asses in a heartbeat.’ I tell you dis cause I don’t play.”
At first, I couldn’t tell who this lady was. I thought that surely she must be the owner. Who else could get away with saying such things so loudly and matter of factly in the middle of a restaurant? After listening a bit longer, I realized that she was indeed the owner, and she was also one of the funniest and boldest people I’d ever meet.
Her name was Mercedes. She swam across the Rio Grande to America as a young girl. She actually said that she was afraid at first because she was a young, pretty virgin and she thought the group she was traveling with might sell her into prostitution. She worked at the fairground for thirteen years and that’s where she learned the skills she has now. She also worked in a restaurant in New Orleans and ended up opening her own restaurant in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. She’s lived in Magnolia and ran this restaurant ever since. She’s actually a local elected official now and her stories of fighting in politics were more than humorous. I could have listened to these stories for hours and her no-nonsense view of the subjects was empowering.
Matthew and I sat and listened to Mercedes tell stories for as long as we could. I’m certain that we could have listened for hours on end. Without further ado, here are some of the hilarious (and vulgar) things that Mercedes said during our short visit. She also showed us the gun on her hip, to give you a bit of perspective on the situation.
“Shit, all this government bullshit. This one says I went to school and I know how to do this shit.” (As she stood behind me taking down numbers from a collection of permits hanging on the wall.)
“I’m not much on computers. I tell everybody, the only thing I know how to do on the computer is get to my porno site.”
“Do I look like your waitress?? I’m the dishwasher. (When people come in asking for things or wanting to see the owner.)
“I intended to open a whore house but ended up with a restaurant.”
“I was Catholic until I found out how much Episcopalians drank. Then I switched.”
“Look at all these flies. You’d think there was a Mexican in here.”
“Shit, I better watch my language or I’m gonna get deported.”
“Shit, that’s right in front of my store. Bitch, I’ll fix you. I went in the attic and cut that line. I don’t get that money. You don’t get that money.” (When talking about how the original owner of the building kept the proceeds of the payphone out front.)
Say what you will about her delivery. (Actually, don’t say anything. This post isn’t about people’s individual thoughts on profanity and such.) Even if you don’t like people who speak in this manner, I couldn’t help but be a bit inspired by her bravery. Not only did this lady literally swim the Rio Grande to get to America, she also has the courage to live her life unapologetically. (For anyone who is concerned, she is a US citizen. We won’t go down that road either.) What I’m concerned with here is that this lady who would seem to be at somewhat of a disadvantage, stands up for her individuality regularly.
Mercedes runs a business, serves through her local government, and makes shit happen every single day. She never once said, “I’m sorry.” She never apologized for being a bit rough around the edges. Instead, she lives her life how she wants to live it. People can either stay or go. Love her or hate her. I got the distinct impression that Mercedes would say and do what she felt to be right, regardless of what others thought. I think you would always know exactly how she felt about a topic and never have to wonder where you stood. In my opinion, there’s something to be said about that frankness. Honestly, I’d like to be around more people like that.
Even though the food was delicious, I won’t remember this place for the BLT. I will probably remember the excessive use of butterfly décor. However, my most distinct memories of La Mariposa will definitely be of Mercedes and her intense comments. I’ll never, ever forget her and part of me hopes to be a bit more like her someday.
I share the story of La Mariposa in hopes that you might enjoy a laugh like we did, and more importantly, that you might be a tad inspired to be a bit more of a bad ass today. Say what you want to say and do what you want to do, unapologetically. It’s the Mercedes way.
If you’d like to see a bit of Mercedes in action, check out the restaurant’s facebook page.