You may have noticed the site has been funnier than usual lately – that’s because I was on vacation. While I was gone I “outsourced” the content to a group in Bangalore that also makes bootleg Wii remotes and peripherals, and I couldn’t be happier with the job they did, especially because they were paid something like eleven cents. Where was I, you ask? Why, I was in Mexico, our neighbor to the South. You know, the neighbor that we built a gigantic fence to keep away from us, while we stand next to the fence with AK-47s and glare at them. Mexico! Land of enchantment!
One of the most interesting things I enjoyed about Mexico was their quaint customs and superstitions. In Mexico, it is considered polite to remove your shoes if you’re invited into a house by a snake. You should never mix juices under a new moon. And, most notably, if a Mexican citizen offers a tourist a pill, the tourist is required by law to take it (but don’t wash it down with tap water!). You must then reimburse the Mexican for the full market value of the pill. This “pharmacy tax” is how Mexico subsidizes its socialized medicine system, and it works remarkably well. Needless to say, within twenty minutes of landing at the Puerto Vallarta airport, I was dosed out of my gourd on a veritable Thanksgiving dinner of medication.
The rest of my week there was a blur, but there are fragments of memory that claw their way up to the top of my brain like Frito-hungry rats. I’ll share some with you.
On my first day there, I was coaxed into seeing a “donkey show.” I can’t really describe what happens in this uniquely Mexican entertainment – primarily because I don’t really remember it – but it obviously made quite an impression on me. The next night, I went back to the small theater and performed in the donkey show as the donkey (wearing a crude costume that I had stolen from a local circus). The night after that, I returned to perform as the woman (completely nude). And the night after that, I electrified the crowd by performing as both the donkey and the woman, starting out in costume and slowly stripping myself until I was as nude as the day before I was born.
For about six hours on the fifth day of my visit, I was suddenly gifted by the ability to speak perfect Spanish. And I’m not talking a cram session with Rosetta Stone Spanish, I’m talking my mother was a squat brown woman who lived in a dirt hut and breastfed me through a hole in a tortilla so as to not offend the Virgin Mary Spanish. I was walking up to taco trucks and ordering stuff that wasn’t on the regular menu – hell, it wasn’t even on the secret blacklight menu – and they were giving it to me. And it was horrible! Connective tissue from the inside of a goat’s knee. I took one bite and threw it to the ground, spitting and cursing in fury.
During this period of fluency, I managed to pass myself off as a doctor for long enough to lecture an elementary school classroom on the dangers of the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as the “swine flu.” However, my concern for the rights and moral status of pigs resulted in a minor panic when, in trying to debunk the pandemic’s nickname, I cleaned every square inch of a 280-pound breeding sow with my bare tongue. As I was still dressed in my donkey costume, I was arrested for moral corruption and thrown in jail for 48 hours until bail was posted.
While in jail, I was provided with medication by my fellow prisoners, as well as the guards and the local District Attorney, who seemed to have limitless quantities of Percocet in his attache case. As a result, my memories are extremely patchy, although I do have a scrapbook of smudged Polaroids from a jailhouse wedding where the bride is, for some reason, dressed as a donkey.
After being released with some of my possessions intact, it was time to head for the airport. Hailing a golf cart, I threw my luggage into the back and off we sped down the one-lane freeway. With no time to make it through Customs, I sprinted down the runway towards the winged serpent Quetzalcoatl, who would be my steed on the journey home. My legs tensed and leaped, propelling my body through the air as I clutched for his iridescent rainbow feathers, struggling to gain purchase on his back. As we climbed into the trophosphere, I began to black out from loss of oxygen, bright flashbulbs of light exploding in my eyes as I clung to the great serpent.
I woke up face-down on the tarmac before being lifted to my feet by two men who seemed to be nothing but mustache, thrown into the cargo container of a FedEx plane and deposited in Hartford, Connecticut, where I got a cab home. Mexico! Land of a thousand dances and ten thousand surprises! Land of a hundred thousand poems and a million ways to die! I will never forget you, Mexico, my love!