56 Days Out
So, have you ever been to Cancun? I was there once. A lifetime ago. But that's not to say that I don't still have very vivid memories of the trip. For instance, I remember being extremely hungover and taking a 3-hour bus ride to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. When we finally got there, the first thing I saw was this. So I did what any able bodied American male would do: I climbed it. I climbed for what felt like an hour before I looked down and realized that I was only 3/4 of the way up. Then I climbed some more until I got to the top. Then I remembered that I'm really, intensely afraid of heights.
And did I mention that I was hungover? OK, just wanted to be sure I was using all the colors when painting the picture.
Needless to say it was a long, emotionally painful descent. When I got to the bottom I found myself on the opposite side of the pyramid from where I'd started. And on THIS side, the Chichen Itza Parks and Recreation Department had put up a lovely little sign informing park patrons of the number of falling-off-the-pyramid deaths that had occurred to date in that particular calendar year. Seriously. And it had flip numbers like an old-time deli. "Now serving number thirty thr...(AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! FOOMP!) uh, four." My trip was in early December and the number on the sign was 37. That's fucked up, yo. Can you imagine if 37 people a year were crushed to death by the Liberty Bell? Like, NOBODY would come to Philadelphia.
Anyhoo, the night before is the real reason that the death-avoiding portion of my brain had failed me that day. What happened that night? 2 words: Booze. Cruise.
Color me naive, but before that night I had assumed that alcohol would be optional and consumed at one's own pace on a booze cruise. I mean, the word "cruise" implies leisure and a certain amount of autonomy, right? Cha, this was more like the tequilalympics. As soon as I set foot on the boat, BAM, some tiny Mexican guy is literally standing on a chair, pouring alcohol down my throat and spinning me around. And he's obviously a shitty judge of volumes and capacities as tequila punch is now pouring down my face and staining my $5 souvenir t-shirt. Little man and his shipmates lead us gringos into communal conga line formation as "Whoomp, There It Is" blares over the ship's tinny speakers. God, I hate this song.
The line snakes around the ship's deck with gringos stopping at no fewer than 6 drinking stations along the circuit. After about 45 minutes we're pulling up to the dock. I'm trying to count the number of tequila shots I've had on-board. Twenty four? That can't be right. So hard to think with "Whoomp, There It Is" pumping over the ship's awesome sound system. God, I love this song!
Hey, what's that, a buffet? I fucking LOVE food! And I love you, tiny guy who's leading us to the food! Let me pick you up! What? No, I don't need any more tequi ... OK! I love you, man. Hommes. My hommes on the range. Oh, snap! That's where they get that from, isn't it: "Yo, hommes." All these years I thought they were saying "Holmes," as in "You are to me what Holmes was to Watson" or some shit. What? Yeah, tequila. Don't mind if I do. It's like brain food or something.
Meanwhile, there's some kind of show going on. A whole bunch of tiny guys dancing with firesticks. Cool! God, I'm thirsty. Where's tequila guy? WHOOMP, THERE HE IS! MI AMIGO!
Oh, AWEsome. That tiny Herve Villachez mother fucker just said we're going to play some kind of games now. Beach Olympics! WHOOMP, THERE IT IS! I can PLAY me some olympics, yo. Wait, what? Herve's pointing at me. What's he saying? He wants me to be a contestant? NO WAY! This is the BEST day EVER! I'm game, Herve! What do I do? Uh huh. Drink tequila, uh huh. Put the butt of this baseball bat on the ground and my nose on the handle, uh huh. Spin around 10 times, race down the beach to the other bat station, uh huh. Drink more tequila, spin around 10 more times and race back here. PFFT, that's EASY! And this other dude from the audience? I'mma kick his ASS! No offense, other dude. I love you, hommes. See you at the finish line. On my mark. Get set. TEQUILA! spinspinspinspinspin (whoa!) spinspinspinspinspinstand. AGHH! What happened to the earth's axis while I was spinning? Fuck, there goes other dude. I'd better hurry. I'm OFF. I'm veeeeeerrriiinnnnnnnggggg rightrightright, can't stop! Picking up speed! Mayday, mayday, we're gonna crash! OH, the HUMANITY!
At this point in the story I'd like to explain that several of Herve's tiny friends had been lining the "runway" charged with keeping participants from falling and possibly hurting themselves. Well, keeping normal-sized participants safe, anyway. Did I mention I'm 6'5"? And when I say Herve's buds were tiny, I'm talking not one of them broke the 5 foot mark. So I guess I can't blame them for running away from me like, well, something that runs away really fast. Funny, when I learned the island we were sailing to was named Isla Mujeres, Island of Women, I thought the name had something to do with actual women, not faggy Mexican dudes.
Long story short, I landed in the sand well short of the finish line. And when I landed I was still moving. And because I had neither control of my body nor sense of up and down, I landed first on my right ear, then slid on my right hip, my back to the crowd. The impact of my landing pulled my loose elastic-waist shorts down to slightly below my knees. I was not wearing underwear. Again. You'd really think I'd have learned after the whole Mickey thing.
The audience, now on their feet, is shouting, "WHOOMP, THERE IT IS!" at my bare ass.
I spend the rest of the evening digging sand out of my ear and my pockets and hiding in the back of the crowd. Time's up. I make my way to the boat. I find a nice, secluded seat on the bow and am relieved to find that the ride home is much less audience-participation-y than the ride there. Things are quiet, no drinking. The waves are calming. My soul is beginning to heal. And then from the ship's tinny speakers I hear something -- recorded laughter and music. I turn to see a television screen aglow with images of the night's cruise. Wow, they video taped the whole trip without us knowing it. And now they're selling copies for $15 each as souvenirs. Smart. By now the whole ship is glued to the TV sets, people trying to pick themselves and their friends out in the crowd. There's everyone on the ride over, drinking and dancing. There we are getting off the boat. There's the buffet. There's Herve. I turn my head back to the water, not wanting to see what I know is coming. But in perfect time a loud voice from within the crowd yells, "THERE'S THAT GUY'S ASS!" Roar. Where's that fucking tequila midget when I really need him. Oh well, I'll never be able to come back HERE again.
The ship finally docks and I hang back to let the rest of the crowd get off first. As I'm about to disembark the ship's captain comes up to me and shakes my hand. They had never sold nearly this many copies of that damn video before. All in a day's work, captain. No thanks necessary.
On the 5-block walk back to the hotel, I am approached or heralded by at least 15 different people from the cruise -- some of whom are staying at the same hotel, which allows us to bump into each other several times before I fly back home. Joy. And for the rest of my time in Cancun I will officially be known as Ass Guy.
"Rectum? Shit, it damn near killed him." -- Richard Pryor