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When I am Mayor, part I

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POSTED July 31, 2014 12:20 a.m.

It’s mayoral campaigning time around town. I’m on a comedy road trip to Seattle and noticed every town and city had their signage on full display. I began daydreaming about what it would be like to be the mayor of our town. I, of course, would take this on as a lifetime gig. The daydream soon turned into full sleep as I drifted away to distant future Manteca, a dreamland that incorporated both old and new Manteca.

The mayor in future Manteca drives a stretch convertible white Cadillac from Jim Turner GMC, wearing a tuxedo, a la Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard. He will be required to hold a morning “open coffee” at two different local eateries/watering holes each morning. It’s ridiculous to expect a man of such importance to drive himself to and fro about Manteca – so my great uncle Johnny Brazil will be appointed the driver because you never know when I’ll need to get from the old Happy Steak to Finley’s in a hurry. The rocket slide at old Shasta Park will be rebuilt and act as mayoral headquarters. Skipping the formality of a stuffy office setting, the town’s decisions will be made in a park as kids play around him. In fact, the rocket slide will be mobile, as in an actual rocket, enabling the mayor to fly it to various meetings with heads of state – while uncle John Brazil races the “Mayoral Cadi” at 99 Speedway on Saturday nights.

For this installment of “When I’m Mayor,” we’ll focus on simple lifestyle changes. When I’m mayor, my first order of business will be relieving the stress that comes with everyday Valley life in The Family City. And away we go...

If you earned your Mud Turtle certificate at Lincoln Pool as a kid, you are entitled to swim in anyone’s pool – whenever you want. The caveat being you’re required to pass on your Mud Turtle knowledge by acting as swim instructor and lifeguard while there. Every Thursday during the summer, the pools of all the high schools will be open to the public. Businesses will all close at 2 on these days, allowing the town to bond through various swim activities, such as Marco Polo or Dunk the Lancer.

The El Rey Theater will once again become the El Rey Theater. It will be open 365 days a year and will be part of a town lottery system. Those chosen will be able to pick what movie plays that night. It will be free to get in – but you will not be told what is playing and any movie goes.

As in, any movie – old high school football film, childhood birthday party, 9-milimeter reels, etc. They’re all acceptable. In my opinion, showing the history of the people and events that have taken place in our town is far cooler than watching Weekend at Bernie’s. Those in attendance will be forced to stay for the entire thing. You are only required to attend one a year, so be cautious and check whose night it is or you may be stuck watching Mark Condit’s home video of a Mountain Aire Concert in 1981.

We will be adopting a work program for all incoming high school freshman. Kids from town will have the opportunity to work on the farm for two weeks, while country kids will be put in a cubicle to shuffle paper. It has recently come to my attention that migrant farm workers are “taking our jobs.” This is something that I personally find to be a complete crock of horse dung. Giving kids the opportunity to work a 16-hour day – for say, 10 days in a row – may just change the thought process of future “they’re taking our jobs” people. After all, I’ve lived on a farm my entire life and have yet to see a van full of guys named Chad and Steve pull up looking for trabajo. I also realize I ham-handedly forced my beliefs on the migrant farm worker issue into this column. I had an axe to grind with someone that reads this, so I took my chance. Sue me.

I will be appointing Mr. Earl Pimentel the position of Editor-in-Chief of my big mouth. Mr. Pimentel is my old Spanish teacher, and is a reader of Manteca to a T. So much so, that he informed my grandma the he felt like I’d hurried a recent column and it wasn’t up to Manteca to a T snuff. And he couldn’t be more correct! The column three weeks ago was a complete “phone-in” job. I need a man like you on the mayoral staff to call me out when I give too little or say too much. P.S. Hope you are feeling better after your surgery.

Since my daydream was a suspension of time and reality, I’d like to run my idea of “Rivalries Revisited” passed you. Once a week at Big League Dreams, a local sports rivalry from days of glory past will play out in front of the town. Old pitchers facing old batters. Wrestlers from days gone by facing off once again in front of the whole town. Any type of rivalry. Heck, if the Manteca High School field marching band of 1974 wants to challenge “the Other School (East Union High) , we can make it happen. But be careful of what you wish for, because the loser is banished from town for life. This should weed out any ridiculous thoughts from someone trying to challenge Scott Brooks or Ted Nuce. As a matter of fact, any former Manteca world champions are taken off the board. I’d like to keep my heroes on the pedestal they belong.

For example, I’d challenge vice principal Eric Simoni of “The Other School” to a game of 1-on-1 hoops. “The Other School” was a thorn in my class’ side as they made mincemeat of us on the court regularly. Having the likes of Armando Avina, Matt Harmon, and Dan “Kool-Aid” Younger definitely helped vice principal Simoni’s cause. But there is a flip side to this “Rivalry Revisited” – an olive branch of redemption being offered by me to him. 

You see, the vice principal and I were grade school chums at Nile Garden. He was hands down the best basketballer at our school, but not the tallest. One fine summer day, I rode my bike all the way into town to hang out with my buddy and play a little hoops in his front yard. Mind you this was an 8-mile trip – one way! I remember we didn’t hesitate and got right down to the hoopin’ I had five inches on him back then and did what I had to do. “Backing me down every time with your big Portuguese butt isn’t basketball!” he cried. Then start hitting your jumper and that won’t be a problem. I beat him the first game … on his homecourt. He had the same competitive streak he exuded from the sidelines as the “The Other School’s” head coach for many years. So we went right back at it. Lo and behold the same result occurred. As he marched away and  shut the door to his house, I recall his father Chris telling me it was time to go. That guy hated to lose – something he taught me all about through high school. 

By the next day all was forgotten but for one glorious afternoon in the St. Francis Estates I faced down my rival. And as my “big Portuguese butt” rode the 8 miles back to the dairy, I knew that one day he would seek revenge. Olive branch extended, Eric.

P.S. He will try to play this down, but he knows it happened. And tweaking Simoni, even 25 years later, still gives me great joy.

Like most Mantecans who have daydreamed about being in this position, one idea always comes to mind. Unemployment? The homeless in our parks? Why I still can’t turn left from Wawona onto Main? Nope. We want our Oakwood Lake Waterslides back! That will be an entire column in itself. In fact, I may require a series of meetings with local Oakwood Lake Waterslide experts. If you find a pink or blue waterslide mat on your front porch over the next few weeks, this means you have been chosen to be part of the panel. And please don’t steal these mats off your neighbor’s lawn in an attempt to get “cutsies” – the oldest Oakwood trick in the book.

Well, I have to cut this one short. I hope to plant a new “When I’m Mayor” segment into all future columns and would love to hear any out-of-the-box ideas you have. Send them to cateicheira@hotmail.com. I’ve been sitting in a Seattle McDonald’s for the better part of an hour and this is not exactly what I envisioned my “comedy road trip” being. And yes, just like Manteca, they have a brand new McDonald’s as well. I have a strange feeling that this little burger company may be worldwide someday.

“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do” 

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