The Economist

By Javier Arturo Muñoz Justin

As the sun was rising over the West Bay Area, there was a man walking to work. This man was your average guy, the type of guy you don’t pay much attention to while walking on the street. Despite being average in appearance, he was higher in status than most of us. Through fortunate, or rather should I say unfortunate events he was able to get through college and grad school with the help of a wealthy sponsor.

The Economist was welcomed by thundering applause and millions of birthday wishes as he got off the elevator. ‘There he is, the man of the hour’ said a tall well-dressed man patting the economist on the back. ‘I would personally like to wish Pedrolas a very happy birthday and give great thanks for being such an outstanding role model for all of us during the many years he has been with us. I have never in my life met anyone who surpasses nuestro querido economista in either honor or dignity. So can we get another round of applause for our dear Pedrolas!’

‘Thank you Howard,’ said the economist as he was slightly blushing out of embarrassment. Sitting down at his desk, the Economist was welcomed with a warm ‘happy birthday man’ followed by a fist-bump on the arm by his coworker with whom he had built a superficial friendship over the years. His coworker was a good looking tall white man and was super outgoing. However, he was a pseudo-intellectual and would take an opportunity he got to flex his massive wealth of knowledge on those of inferior intellect.

‘Thank you, Jared,’ replied the Economist, ‘I really appreciate it coming from you. I just don’t like all these superficial birthday wishes, I just wanna enjoy my birthday in peace, y’know?’ ‘I understand, I guess it’s just that you hit a really important age, a milestone. You don’t get many of those.’

‘I’m turning 42, how is that a milestone? It isn’t like I’m turning 21 or 50.’

‘Well, you know what they say,’ said Jared in a pretentious tone, ‘42 is the meaning of life. Maybe it is a milestone because this is the age when you truly find the true meaning of your life. The age when you die, the eulogist draws upon for his speech. Where your tombstone gets the words: Pedrolas Guzman: Father, Husband, and Well Respected Economist.’

‘I guess, but I still don’t see the big fuss about it.’

‘Well,’ said Jared putting his hands into his pockets, ‘I guess you will realize this one day, but if not, I guess intellect isn’t for everyone. But what do you think is the meaning of life?’

‘I haven’t thought too much about it, but if I were to take a guess, I think it would be...’

‘I think the meaning of life is just to be virtuous, since everyone respects and honors virtue. Furthermore, virtue is the highest good, nothing tops virtue, except for maybe God.’

‘What is virtue though?’

‘Well virtue is, well you know, virtue. It’s the highest good, Aristotle saw it as moderation and the Stoics saw it denying yourself. I can’t really explain it, virtue is just, you know, virtue. To be a virtuous man, you gotta be a man who tells the truth... well at least don’t tell a lie.’

‘I see, I see,’ replied the Economist, while nodding in hopes of getting Jared to shut up.

Jared did shut up and the Economist started on his usual work as an economist. His desk was next to a window that was looking out to the Pacific. The Economist would occasionally look out the window, seeing all the boats sailing into and out of the Bay Area. He would also occasionally look down to the people walking about the streets, wondering the life story of each person that walked by. If he spotted a lady, he would rate them out of 10 and guess which one were actually good from far, far from good, then proceed to think about perverted things. This is how he spent his days at work, while doing the least possible work and hoping that his supervisors would not realize he was doing the least possible work.

After the endless cycle of working for twenty minutes, staring at the ocean for twenty, and staring at people for twenty, with the occasional breaks for using the bathroom or the office birthday party; the Economist started to pack up his stuff into his briefcase. Jared came over and asked him, ‘so birthday boy, you got any plans for tonight?’

‘I’m having a carne asada with my family’ said the Economist.

‘Carne asada!?!? I love carne asada, I’ve never been to one, but I’ve heard so much good stuff about them from vloggers on YouTube. You Mexicans, so I’ve heard, can cook the best food. It’s even better when it’s homemade. Can I come?’

‘I’m not sure,’ said the Economist, not trying to sound rude or exposing his secret identity, ‘my family can be kinda wild, I’m not sure you’d wanna be around them.’

‘I don’t mind, please let me come over.’

‘The answer is still no, man.’

‘Can you at least tell me in which part of town you live, you never really told me.’

‘Sure why not,’ said the Economist reluctantly, ‘I live over at La Misión.’

‘Dude, what the hell! You have a high paying job, higher than mine, why do you still live in the ghetto? ‘

‘I, um,’ said the Economist nervously, either out of fear or shame, as his foundation started to run due to the immense sweat running down his face like the great waterfalls of Niagara, ‘I just haven’t been able to find a place where I really like. Plus, my family still lives there and the hood has also been good to me.’

‘I see,’ said Jared as he stroked his chin, thinking of all the possible reasons why his friend would still live in the ghetto. Of course, he dismissed the actual reason because it seemed too unscientific according to him. ‘Well man, I will see you later.’

‘Sounds good,’ said the Economist as he ran to the bathroom. Looking at the mirror he saw his cinnamon skin melting, exposing black lines and colorful patterns on his face. He quickly ran into the stall and opened up his briefcase. Pulling out the mirror, he started to curse his girlfriend for not buying him waterproof foundation and for not packing his backup make up for such events. To his relief, however, she did pack his backup makeup. He took a baby wipe and took off the makeup he already had in his face. He then applied a fresh layer of makeup to his face, as a matter of fact, he added a second layer just to be cautious.

Upon finishing his little fashion show, the Economist quickly got up and left the building as fast as he could, forgetting his phone at his desk. He ran out the front doors of the building faster than a Boeing-737 taking off. On the street, however, he figured he could slow down and act naturally in the hopes that nobody would figure out his disguise and expose his secret. He kept his head low, as he walked two miles to his car.

Just when he thought he was in the clear, he heard a stranger with a Kentucky accent say, ‘Compa, your mascara is running.’

‘Thank you,’ said the Economist before in an enraged tone adding: ‘wait a minute, I’m not wearing mascara!’

‘I know,’ said the Kentuckian Stranger, ‘I’m just messing with you, since it looks like you have an extra layer of makeup on.’

‘Is it that obvious?’

‘Yeah, it looks like you’re trying to hide something. Are you some vato loco hiding his facial tattoos to look more professional in order to fund his vato loco activities?’

‘Who told you? Who told?’ said the Economist out of fear.

‘What are you freaking out about? I’m just messing with you! Or was I correct in my assumption?’

‘No, no, you weren’t correct,’ said the Economist in a panicky voice.

‘I think,’ said the Kentuckian Stranger perceiving the tone of the Economist’s voice, ‘I think I was correct. There ain’t no way that you’d give that reaction if it were true.’ The Kentucky Stranger then proceeded to rub his hand together while pretending to be looking at a McDonald’s menu wondering what he wanted to get and said while on his tippy-toes and in a high pitch voice, ‘Vato loco bing boom bong. Vato loco bing boom bong.’

The Economist enraged, yelled, ‘I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you motherfucker!’

‘Well, good luck with that,’ said the Kentuckian Stranger as he started to walk away laughing. ‘By the way, my name is Noel-Juan de Nemone.’

Getting to his vintage low-rider, the Economist started punching his steering wheel, while whispering and screaming, ‘how dare you make fun of a real vato loco! I’ll kill you vato, yeah I’ll kill you!’ After five minutes of this, he finally whipped off the makeup to reveal his gang tattoos that were as colorful as a pride parade. He then turned on his car radio and proceeded to listen to Dale Don Dale by Don Omar the entire way home.

His homeboys were already at his place when he got home. ‘Happy birthday homes,’ they all said to the Economist as he, still upset, walked into his house. Not even seeing Savannah, his beautiful girlfriend, preparing tacos al pastor for him could cheer him up. ‘Homes,’ asked his homies as he was getting beer from his fridge, ‘homes, que pasa, what’s the matter? We can see you’re upset and it’s your birthday, homes, so we wanna cheer you up man.’

The Economist was reluctant at first, but after some encouragement from his girlfriend, he finally told his compas, ‘it’s nothin’. Just this fool I saw downtown made me as a vato loco and then made fun of me. Hell, he made fun of vato locos everywhere!’

‘Homes,’ said José, his closest friend, ‘we gotta teach this fool a lesson. What does he look like? What’s his name?’

‘He was this Peruvian guy,’ said the Economist, ‘but he had a southern accent. His name was also Noel-Juan de Nemone.’

‘Noel-Juan!’ exclaimed José, then said to the fellow homies, ‘come we gotta teach this Noel-Juan a lesson!’

‘Yeah,’ said all the homeboys, ‘hell yeah, we gonna teach Noel-Juan a lesson! Yeah, no mo Noel-Juan!’

As they were preparing their guns in the Economist’s garage, Savannah came in asking

‘Pedrolas, honey, what the hell are you doing?’

‘We gonna teach Noel-Juan a lesson,’ replied the Economist.

‘Who’s Noel-Juan?’

‘The guy who insulted me.’

‘Babe, not only did he make fun of your masculinity issues, but he also played you, you fool! Don’t go, can’t you see Noel-Juan means No-One?’

‘Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter!’ replied the Economist as he was walking out of his house.

‘Howdy friends,’ said Jared as he approached the Economist’s house. As Jared got closer and saw the Economist’s gang tattoo, he started to freak out and yell.

Thinking on his feet, the Economist shot Jared in the shoulder with his pistol. Jared fell down and passed out. ‘He fucked around and found out,’ said the the Economist, ‘babes, call an ambulance and when he wakes up, tell him he got shot by a random vato for fucking around in the hood.’

As they were roaming the streets of downtown San Francisco, they started asking people if they had seen a guy with the name Noel-Juan. The average person, not knowing what was going on, ignored them, since they thought the vatos locos were just playing a prank on them. Well who could blame them? The Economist and his homeboys were wearing tank tops that were too small for them, which led to their bullies with gang tattoos to be exposed. José, breaking off from the main group, however, saw the Kentuckian Stranger, and asked him: ‘Have you seen a guy named Noel-Juan?’

‘I have not,’ replied the Kentuckian stranger.

‘You have a southern accent! Are you Peruvian by any chance?’

‘No, I’m Mexican-American.’

Now back with the main group, a white man in his 60s came up to the Economist and his group of vato locos.

‘Hola mi amigos, que onda? I’m Mister Edgworth, but you young fellas can feel free to call me Paul. Here look, let me show you this. I have a hand, I have another hand,’ he said as he was pulling his hands out of his jeans pockets, ‘therefore the physical world exists. That one’s on the house. You lovely young gentlemen appear to be lost, can I help you with directions?’

‘We’re looking for a fool that lives on this side of town.’

‘Do you happen to know his name? I know a lot of people.’

‘Noel-Juan.’

‘NOEL-JUAN!?’ Exclaimed Paul, ‘well as a matter of fact, I know Noel-Juan. I added him on FaceBook a few years ago, but I think he lives in Kenya. It’s the same really, but I can tell you where a Noel and a Juan live and you could have two for the price of one.’

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