Over the last few years, I've taken you on culturally-sensitive junket after culturally-sensitive junket of Ann Arbor's Sister Cities.
Together, we slept on waterbeds filled with koi in Hikone, gave belly rubs to giant amoebas in Dakar, dressed up as an umlaut for Oktoberfest in Tubingen, and played out our post-election escape fantasies in Peterborough.
I recently learned that we have an unlisted Sister City, maliciously kept from us by our City Elders: Remedios, Cuba. According to the Ann Arbor Observer, we have been Sisters with Remedios since 2003, but our miserly City Council refused to spend $1000 to erect a new sign. That would be like if Match.com identified your soulmate but refused to tell you because they didn't want to spend $1000 on a new sign.
It's not a very good analogy, but the point is that you can't trust City Elders.
Since 2003, U.S. Cuban relations have thawed. And frozen again. And then thawed a little bit again. It's just like the stuff in my freezer with all the brownouts we get in my neighborhood. Does that happen in Remedios, too, or just in Ann Arbor? Of course, I wouldn't have to ask that question if our City Elders had just sent a goddamn delegation to Cuba 15 years ago like they were supposed to.
Putting that aside, Ann Arbor and Remedios are absolutely perfect Sister Cities. Both are in the same time zone. We live in a flyover state. They live in a no-flyover state. Ann Arbor is known as "A Squared." Someone from Cuba is known as "A Cube."
And so, people of Remedios, here we are. Urban siblings who shared the same metropolitan uterus, but at different times. Sisters at last. As a gesture of goodwill, I named this month's Hard Taco song, "Mateo," after about 125 of you.
And for my Michigan-based readers who would like to dip their skewers into the boiling fondue pot of cultural intercourse, I offer the following hunch-based hard facts about your beautiful little sister.
Remedios, Cuba - Frequently Answered Questions
Population: 46,482. The census bureau estimated this number by counting sales of commemorative "It's a Boy" cigars and multiplying by two.
Number of citizens named Mateo: About 128. (3 boys were born in the last minute, and their parents were inspired by the new Hard Taco song.)
City name translates to: Remedies
City name unscrambles to: Emeroids
Preparation H and Tucks Medicated Pads: Remedies for 'emeroids.
Top Paying Medical Profession: Castro-enterology
Most Important Exports/Imports: Elian Gonzalez/Elian Gonzalez
Most popular political affiliations: Plantain Apologist, Cuban Sandwich Party
Biggest cultural challenge: Marital strife with Lucille BallMost Popular Gay Bar: The Anal Vista Social Club
Traditional food: A beret with a red star served on a bed of black beans and rice
Why the ocean water is so warm: The Gulf Stream carries water down from the west coast of Florida, and a lot of kids in Tampa just pee when they're swimming.
Most Popular Freedom Fighter: Ernesto "Che" Guevara
Most Popular Hip-hop Artist: Shawn "Che-Z" Carter
Endemic diseases: The Cuban Sniffle Crisis, Pork-puller's Elbow
Quien es mas macho? Not the guy sipping a mojito.
High School Mascot: A Stogie with Googly Eyes
Rival High School: The Gitmo Enhanced Interro-Gators. (A waterboarded alligator, also with googly eyes.)
With warmest regards,