I was researching at the Marfa Public Library one day, and I asked the librarian who might be good to talk to about the sheriff back in the day. She grew nervous and wasn’t quite sure, but then she brightened up and told me to seek out the Women Hater’s Club.
It sounded a bit unbelievable in today’s age that anyone would don that moniker, but she explained that they were just a bunch of older men that hung out off of the main street and drank beer under a metal awning near a parking lot. And so that late afternoon I went over to the lot and tentatively approached half a dozen guys sitting at a round table already cluttered with empty beer cans.
“How’s it going guys,” I asked confidently.
A goateed guy with glazy eyes sitting dead in my sights responded. Yes, he was Hispanic, but his accent seemed a bit exaggerated, kind of like Cheech Marin saying “vatooooooh!” “Hey, man, can you read?”
I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, so I started glancing around for some kind of sign, but all I saw were a few old TVs set up on the perimeter along with pro-football paraphernalia. “What sign?”
“The sign, man! The sign. Can’t you read?”
“Go back there and read the sign, man.” He pointed toward the driveway to the lot, and indeed I could see the back of a little sandwich board sign. I walked back, and sure enough, it read: “NO CARS/HUMANS BEYOND THIS POINT. PRIVATE RESIDENCES. BE NICE PLEASE.”
I returned to the group. “Oh yeah, sorry. Didn’t see it.” Nevertheless, I went on to fumble through who I was and what I was doing, and since I brought a bunch of Bud Light, I eventually was welcomed into the circle.
We ended up getting rather drunk–including a round or three of tequila shots–talking about the old days in Marfa, At one point, one of the Women Haters stood up and pointed to a beat-up 70s baby-blue pickup truck pulling into the lot and obviously ignoring the sign as well. “Roberto, you want to see some cocaine?” he asked. “Uh, sure, I said,” not knowing what really to expect.
He motioned for me to follow him to the truck. “This is my friend from OJ [Ojinaga], and he just hauled up a shitload of coke.” The pickup driver got out and greeted the Women Hater and they started shooting the shit in Spanish. Eventually the Woman Hater told me to open one of several coolers sitting in the back. “Here’s your coke, man!” Inside were stacks of clear bags carrying some white substance. But as I poked the bags, they were gelatinous and not cocaine.
“What the fuck is this?” I asked. “It’s not coke.”
A smile broadened across his weathered face. “Cheese, man. Cheese!” Asadero to be specific, brought across the border to sell. The Women Hater then pulled out two Ozarka water bottles from the cooler filled with a light, milky white liquid with floating globules of cheese. “Roberto, drink this, man. It will bring the hair back to your balls.”
How could I refuse? I took a healthy swig of the water byproduct from the cheese, and it was good.
The Women Haters have since dissolved to a good extent after many suffered health problems and other challenges that life brings to those in the late fifties. Their spot is still owned by Russell Guevara, who lives in a trailer behind it, and it adjoins Jalin’s space from my previous post.
I spent a lot of time with Russell on my last trip, mainly at the bar, and I’m sure I’ll write more about him later. He was kind enough to do an interview and drive me to introduce the sheriff that took over after Rick Thompson went to prison–Abe Gonzalez–for an interview.
While downing some beers at the former Women Hater’s spot, he began to show off his mementos lining the spot in front of the old TVs. Picking up a softball, he noted, “We usually get people who hang out here to sign this.” Russell didn’t even realize it, but as I went to take a photo, I noticed my own signature glaring at me: “Shithead D’Amico.”
I hadn’t even remembered signing it. But so it goes after much beer, tequila, and asadero water. Sometimes you have to pay the price to be a journalist.
Amazing! You captured everything perfectly!