A weekend birthday party gathering consisted of an outing to a park for carne asada y un pastel de tres leches. The kids looked forward to the piñata. We always plotted beforehand how we were going to try get the most candy. Some aunt or uncle tied the piñata to a rope and hung it from a tree. Once we saw someone bring out a blindfold and the stick or a baseball bat, we knew it was time to parrrrttttttyyyyyy!!!!
I had observed a couple of different strategies. You could be bold and brave, jump right in after one of the cousins broke the piñata and a little candy started to spill out. The antsy pantsy strategy. It was always the child that couldn’t wait. Too anxious, plagued by crazy thoughts that there wouldn’t be any candy left once the piñata was completely cracked.
Everyone chanted, “Dale, dale, dale no pierdas el tiro porque si la pierdes, pierdes el camino!” The antsy pantsy method scared everyone. “Ay! No! No hagas eso!” “Te va pegar la piñata en la cabeza!” “Chamako! Desententido!”
The obedient kids waiting for their turn would look around for approval. “You see mom! I’m waiting my turn. I’m not stupid.” “Look at him, ojala que se le caiga la piñata en la cabeza pa que aprenda.” The antsy pantsy child ducked and dodged the piñata while ignoring the yelling of the concerned and anguished onlookers. We all wanted to know what he got. “What’d you get?” Immediately the kid hid the chile con mango paleta in his pockets, get back in line and act like nothing ever happened.
Another option was to wait for an uncle to mediate the rambunctious crowd. It was too dangerous for one of my aunt’s to do it. “Ay no, yo no puedo con tanto chiquillo.” It was always an uncle who grabbed the piñata once it shattered and fell apart. We continued our chanting until we got to that climatic moment of the shatter. “La piñata tiene caca, tiene caca, tiene cacaguates de a monton.” Boom. The piñata shattered.
The clawing method was in full effect. All the kids flocked to the piñata and clawed the candy into piles hoping it fit in pockets, birthday bags, and yo momma’s purse. Birthday hats came off. They were used to claw and scoop up candy. Everyone scooped the candy into their shirts and skirts. Then, there was the kid who never paid attention.
The cry baby method. This kid fearfully tip toed around the crowd weeping for a piece of candy. As soon as this kid approached a piece of candy on the grass, somebody would snatch it from him. The kid would cry louder and his mom would approach the other kids, “Let him have a piece of candy.” The kids always ignored the parent, like “Why is she here?” “Everyone gets their own candy.” “Dumb, cry baby.” Nobody actually said that, but that’s what we always thought.
On one occasion as I was anticipating the clawing method, standing in line waiting for my turn to hit the piñata, my cousin swung the piñata stick, it slipped out of her hands like a Frisbee, and smacked me in the forehead. My head was spinning. I couldn’t believe it.
I was like, “Did I just get whacked by the piñata stick?” “Yea, I did.” I felt my head swell up like a bee sting. Jesus save me. I don’t recall what happened after that. I do remember impromptu emergency aid kicked in with a Ziploc bag full of ice from the hielera. The fiesta continued.