Hazy Reflections In Mexico

Aquarian Weekly 12/10/08 REALITY CHECK

WE’RE ALL FINE Hazy Reflections On America’s Economy South Of The Border

“We’re going to be fine,” I told a young exporter from Cincinnati, as we sat with our wives in the cramped bar of a dilapidated restaurant on the Westside of downtown Cabo San Lucas. It had been another warm later-November day and the wife and I decided to interrupt our Mexican Booze Marathon to charter a sailboat at Puerto Los Cabos and watch the sunset. It was on route to a port along the Mar de Cortés when we offered passage to Mr. Cincinnati and his wife. I hadn’t so much as seen a JC & EM in Mexicosober American since being accosted by a round-faced Oklahoman at the pool bar fourteen hours earlier, but these people were different. They looked desperate, claiming to have been forced to dock an ill-conceived marlin expedition when two local fishermen brandished a pistol and summarily ordered the Gringos to “hand it all over”.

I was responding to a conversation that began when Mr. Cincinnati, drawing hard from a bottle of cheap Chablis, repeatedly bemoaned his doomed trade and the sinking American dollar. “I’m afraid,” he stammered. “I go to sleep with CNBC scrolling disaster every goddamned night and I am fully convinced my children will starve.”

“Don’t watch that miserable crap,” I told him. “Those people are programmed to peddle hype. It’s the first thing you learn in broadcasting school, how to pronounce “W” and pitch hype masked by news-speak. Fuck CNBC. All is well. You’re children may starve, but it won’t be a result of the American economy.”

“The stock market is killing my future!” he shouted.

“Future? It’s a myth,” I counseled him. “Live in the now!”

“Jesus, we forgot to cancel our stolen credit cards,” Mrs. Cincinnati interrupted.

“No problem,” my wife told her. “The people have controlling interest in the goddamn banks. I read it in my husband’s column.”

“Are you two with the press?” Mr. Cincinnati blurted, his sagging complexion turning a greenish alabaster as the ocean began to go haywire.

“Take that back,” my wife sneered, holding fast against the crash of erratic swells. “Just because my husband slums, does not implicate me as media.”

As we veered into the Pacific, a sudden bout of seasickness caused Mr. Cincinnati to violently disgorge what he said was once a fine platter of Chili Mariscos. A fair amount of it grazed my khakis and part of my wife’s sandals. She had ample opportunity to avoid the surge, but was transfixed by how Mr. Cincinnati’s weird combination of odd facial hues mixed with the crimson sunset. As he doubled over in retching convulsions, she clicked away on her Pentax K2000D proclaiming madly, “This is why you must always bring a fast-action shutter when boating!”

Appalled, and still in post-traumatic shock from the heist, his wife proffered a conciliatory dinner engagement if we “made it back alive”. Moreover, there were serious overtures to having an “in” with a select eatery only a few blocks from our hotel. “We’ve been coming here for over a decade,” Mrs. Cincinnati explained, as she frantically ushered her heaving spouse into the tiny bathroom below deck. “We have a 30-year timeshare.”

“I would sell that,” my wife chuckled, still clicking away. “The economy is screwed.”

“Fuck China?” my wife asked. “Fuck this hideous feed-shack! How long have we been sitting here?”

But safely back on terra firma, Mr. Cincinnati’s appetite was approaching ferocious, as was my beloved’s insatiable lust for stronger Tequila and a halt to our endless harangue on the Death Of The U.S. Dollar. She took to growling, “I swear I’ll open my wrists if someone mentions ‘fiduciary tailwind’ one more time.”

“Aren’t you the least bit worried that things are beyond repair?” Mr. Cincinnati asked.

“Fuck that noise,” I said. “America was never in a better place while crippled. This is not the Depression. Do you know anything about history, son? After ’29 the world closed its doors on us, and we recoiled in horror at the thought of international aid. Those days are over. In 1930, we hadn’t done a fucking thing for anyone. Shit, World War I? We came in for land grabs in the last seventeen months. Before that it was stealing this and colonizing that. Since then we’ve dumped billions upon billions all over this globe, not to mention bloodless coups and weird assassinations. Hell, we went to war for god-knows-what from Indo-China to Grenada, Lebanon, Kuwait and Nicaragua in order to drag the Third World into the 21st Century. We won’t be allowed to go under, not now, not ever.”

“What about China?” he argued. “They will eat us alive!”

“China? Shit, do you have the slightest inkling of what the average American citizen spends a year on crap from China? Our demise would be suicide. They’ll keep lending us money and we’ll keep spending it on their crap. We’re like a deadbeat junky to a dealer. No matter how deep in debt, he cannot afford to lose him. Fuck China. They need us. Everyone needs us.”

“Fuck China?” my wife asked. “Fuck this hideous feed-shack! How long have we been sitting here?”

“Nine Modelos, five Margaritas and one Tequila Sunrise ago,” Mrs. Cincinnati quantified.

“Holy mother of Christ, we need service here!” my wife yelled in the direction of the chubby waiter, who sprinted over to slam an entire tray of Pacificos on our table. He was sweating profusely from the heat and breathing dangerously hard. “On the house, señorita,” he exhaled.

“We don’t want this piss, bring us four more Modelos until a table opens,” I said.

“No table, amigo. We are overbooked.”

“I don’t care about food, four more Modelos!” I said.

Obviously frightened, the panting waiter whispered, “No more Modelo. We’re out.”

“Corona then,” the wife said. “Bring us four Coronas with limes, and no chincy curved slivers, real chunks of lime this time!” “Sorry, señorita…”

“No Carona?” my wife shouted. A hush fell over the bar. “Aren’t we in Mexico? Can you go into any dive in the U.S. and scare up a fucking Budwieser?”

“I’m going to pass out if I don’t get sustenance soon,” Mr. Cincinnati said, bolting from our table to confront the perpetually angry Maitre D’. For nearly two hours we watched in utter fascination as she physically evicted six patrons without explanation.

“That woman looks like a pissed-off Frida Kahlo,” the wife observed. “She’s going to kill that poor schmuck.”

“What the hell is wrong with him?” I asked his wife.

“Aside from being trapped in Los Cabos for Thanksgiving Weekend with a lousy time-share, robbed at gun point of everything he owns, and waking up in cold sweats for a solid month with the sound of his financial advisor repeating over and over that three weeks ago the Untied States fiscal stability hung by a thread, he’s pretty chipper.”

“You’ve got to ride this stuff out, take the blows and keep coming,” I instructed.

“I know,” she said, keeping an eye on her husband, who was raising the ire of the scowling Maitre D. “We’re weak.”

As she let “weak” escape her lips Mr. Cincinnati’s hapless recon mission had succeeded. Waving us over, we followed Frida through the crowded entranceway into a tunnel festooned with cheap jewelry and trinkets out to the main room. It was too bright, too loud, and reeking of dried sweat, stale beer, and soiled children. The sound of nervous laughter was oppressive. Mr. Cincinnati looked woozy, so we sat him down at an oval wooden table, where an imposing gray-haired waiter stared us down. “You are in a rush, no?” he asked.

“Rush, yes,” my wife told him. “This man here is dying; he is living in fear…an expatriate who has suffered a grave injustice at the hands of pirates. He needs refried beans and guacamole immediately or there could be an unpleasant incident.”

Looking perplexed, the gentleman smiled, “Who told you we served refried beans and guacamole here, señorita?”

With that the wife and I got up from our chairs, and walked briskly to a waiting cab and back to our corner table at La Guadalupana Cantina. Before the door closed we could see Frida smiling broadly.

We never saw the Cincinnatis again. They’re weakness was not needed stateside. This is the Land Of Survival. We would be there soon to weather any storm. But first, Cohibas, refried beans, guacamole, and two Caronas, please.


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