“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
My dad called me shortly following the Donald’s speech last summer.
“Have you seen the piñatas?”
I had not.
In the months following Donald Trump’s July remarks about Mexicans, there was an outcry in Austin’s Mexican-American community. This protest mainly took the form of piñatas.
My dad knows that I live in the piñata-rich territory of east Austin. He ordered me to snap one up and send it to him in sad, piñata-free Maryland.
Contemptible Impudence Sr. lives to be politically antagonistic. Lately he’s been bellowing about how he might vote for Trump. I think he’s kidding, but I’m not sure. My father is a complicated man.
This is the first Donal Trump Piñata I spotted one weekend in early July, hanging in the doorway of J&J Liquors on east 11th.
I went inside and asked the proprietor of J&J Liquors where he had found this charming specimen.
“My friend came in and asked if he could stash it here for a little while. That was last week.”
The abandoned Trump’s mouth hung agape. How could someone do this to him? He had done nothing but spread joy!
Soon after I started seeing Trumps in every piñata store in east Austin. On East Cesar Chavez, the neighborhood’s main drag, there are four piñata stores in less than a half mile.
All of the Trump piñatas wear black suits, white shirts, and red ties. The best ones have giant lips and gaping mouths. None of them play up the squinty eyes to my satisfaction, and some of them look downright jolly.
I decided to go to each of the 4 piñata stores in my neighborhood, until I was certain I had found my one true Trump.
I started at Julia’s.
Inside I found two women sitting at the front desk. One of the women, it turned out, was Monica Lejarazu, a local piñata celebrity.
Lejarazu and her husband were the proprietors of Jumpolin, a piñata and party supply store at the center of east Austin’s 2015 piñata crisis.
I mentioned that there are four piñata stores on East Cesar Chavez. Before February of 2015, there were five.
In the early morning hours of February 12, 2015, Monica Lejarzau was surprised to find that her piñata store, Jumpolin, had been smashed to pieces.
Although F&F Vetntures, the company that owns the property, had made it clear they wanted the Lejarzus to vacate the premises, there was no court-ordered eviction filed at the time of of the demolition, which is required by Texas law.
F&F Ventures had a new tenant lined up for SXSW, but Splash Inc. backed out of their agreement when they learned that the demolition had caused an uproar.
Subsequent plans to turn the space into a food truck park also fell through. (Eventually it was replaced by a cat cafe, where you can pet cats and order soy lattes. More on this in a future post.)
For a while Monica worked out of her house. Most recently, Monica has collaborated with Julia, of Julia’s Piñatas. At the time of this post their partnership was still going strong.
I asked about Monica’s supply of Donald Trump piñatas. Did they have any in stock?
“I can make one for you. $45.”
Before agreeing to a sale I did some smart, beautifully crafted investigative reporting. Like Sarah Koenig, but with a bigger ass.
“When did you start selling Trump piñatas?
“Back in July, when he opened his big mouth,” Julia answered.
“Is there anything you that you want to emphasize with your piñata creation?”
“His big mouth,” Monica replied, chuckling.
Since July, Julia reported, sales of Trump piñatas have been dwindling.
Before I committed to a piñata, I wanted to make sure I was getting the best deal in town.
So I continued my Trump hunt at Ruth’s Partyland.
“Are you here for a piñata?” the proprietor asked.
Disney princesses and Angry Birds crowded around me, their eyes silently begging me to take them away and give them a loving home. I wondered if piñatas had ever provoked a patent lawsuit.
I found my Donald by the cash register. The front of his hair flopped boyishly into his face. His demeanor seemed almost demure, and his short arms failed to convey the erotic power of Donald’s charisma (my dad’s words, not mine).
It cost $28.99.
I asked if this model was handmade.
“They come from a supplier in Mexico.”
Monica had set a high bar. I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a tailor-made Trump.
I asked David if there was anything he looked for in particular in a Trump. Hair? Big mouth?
“It just depends on the supplier,” he explained.
The Donald Trump outside of Piñata Party Supply beckoned.
He had the most beautiful lips I had ever seen.
There was no one at the front desk. The employees were busy putting out a new display of Thanksgiving turkey piñatas.
Piñata Partyland had an impressive stock of Donald Trumps.
Unlike the Trump outside, these had happy faces, and adorable plump bodies.
In the back room, I spotted an aberration.
A brunette Trump?
Was it a straightforward whoops-a-daisie? Or had contempt for Trump spread to all sharply dressed, caucasian businessmen?
I confronted one of the employees.
“Is this Trump?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, smiling cheekily.
“But he’s brunette!”
“Yeah, but he’s Trump.”
I decided not to push it.
It also cost $28.99, and was also made in Mexico.
Of all the spots I visited, Partyland had the most impressive selection of piñatas in general.
Look at these saucy topless mermaids! I want to go where they’re going!
Next up was the last stop on my list, Raquel’s Partyland.
Raquel’s Trump had an earnest scowl.
Raquel’s Partyland is run by a mother and daughter team. The daughter translated my questions into Spanish, and they informed me that they only sell a couple of Trumps per week at this point.
Having completed my piñata pilgrimage, I decided that only one of Monica’s handmade Trumps would do.
I made a $10 down payment. In a couple of weeks, my bespoke Trump was ready. He was in a cluster of piñatas in one corner of the store, surrounded by Dora the Explorers and princesses from Frozen. “There he is, playing nicely for once,” Julia said.
He waited patiently for me to finish my errands.
I could feel his eyes on me in the rearview mirror.
“Good night, sweet baby Donald,” I said that evening, before donning my nightcap and downing my pint of hot midnight milk.
Late at night, I heard the rustle of papier mache in the corner.
I turned on the lights.
Everything seemed totally normal.
I drifted into a fitful sleep.
“You’re a looz-uh.” My eyes shot open.
“Who said that?”
I put my head under the blankets and tried to remember how to pray.
Then came the heavy breathing.
“You’re a slob.”
I opened my eyes.
“Leave me alone, Donald.” I said. “Go find some other supermodel to trifle with.”
The next morning I awoke to sunlight streaming between the curtains and birds twittering.
“Max, I had such terrible nightmares!”