"José Cuervo, you are a friend of mine.
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime.
Did I kiss all the cow(girls), did I shoot out the lights?
Did I dance on the bar, did I start any fights?"
I've always been good at getting into trouble. Everywhere I've ever gone, I've managed to screw something up. It's not like I actively try; it's more of an affinity. Like bugs to a windshield, trouble seems to find me. Thankfully, it's never serious trouble. No one's gotten hurt (except me), and there's never been any lasting damage. Here's a story about me just trying to make the best of a summer vacation and actually enjoying being in trouble. I guess it's just something I'm good at.
My Uncle Charlie had been working at Club Meds all over the world for the last 10 years, and as such, I only saw him on rare occasions. When we did see each other, it was like we had never been apart. He was (and is) a cool Uncle. Always had stories about exotic places he'd been, things he'd done and women he'd met. I looked up to him. Twice in the past he had given me a call before one of my vacations from school and asked if I was interested in spending a week or two with him in Club Med. How can you say no?
A free Club Med vacation? You can't.
The only bad thing about the two other times I'd gone was that I was too young to appreciate them fully at the time.
The first one I went to was in Copper Mountains, Colorado. It's a ski club, and it's cold. I learned to ski reasonably well and had fun. I was only about fourteen or fifteen at the time, so it was just a vacation for me, nothing more.
The second trip was to Buccaneers Creek, Martinique. I was seventeen at the time, and again it was little more than a vacation. I had a steady girlfriend back home, so I didn't partake of the local wildlife (if you know what I mean). Even if I wanted to, I was a little too inexperienced to know how to go about it. Club Med was like a college campus. As a high school student I had no hope of understanding the subtle (or not so subtle) interactions going on between the sexes.
As the summer was approaching between my Junior and Senior years of college, my Uncle gave me a call out of the blue. He wanted me to come visit him in another Club. In Cancun.
I had been at college now for three years and finally understood that interaction well. I was also pretty much single. Not a good combination, or is it?
The other differences from the other Clubs to this one was that here they wanted me to work. They wouldn't let me just sit around on the beach all day.
In Martinique I signed people up for windsurfing lessons, but it was more of something to do when I was bored.
In Cancun I had places I had to be at certain times or else. There was a dress code for both the day and the night. Not quite a uniform, but just what color shorts and shirt you had to wear on certain days.
Once again I was put at the windsurf shack. For a while I signed people up for lessons again and later I gave the basic lesson on how to pick a board, get it in the water and how to get on it. Of course, to this day I still can't surf myself, but it was fun anyway, and I never had a student drown (as far as I know).
They also had me do magic tricks at night. I've always been into magic, and for a while I was pretty good at it. Right now, all I can do are a few card tricks, but that's just due to lack of practice.
So every morning I had to be at work at 9:15. I would get up early, go to the gym, work out, then go to breakfast. Back to my room for a shower, then on to work. I'd work until 5:00, go home, shower and relax for a while. 6:30 I would head to the bar and do some tricks. I wasn't much of a drinker, so I would just do tricks until dinner. After dinner we had to be lined up to do the silly dances before the show. If I wasn't in the show I would just hang out until 11. At 11 or so the show would end, and then we had to do the dances again. By about 11:30 or so I was off duty. My roommate Jason and I would head to the disco and hang out for a while. I would have a few drinks and be home by 1 without so much as a buzz.
That was my routine for the first few days in Cancun. See, employees at Club Med (called G.O.s for Gentile Organizers) were not allowed to drink for free. We had to pay for all our drinks. I was a poor college student, and was trying not to spend all my money on alcohol. Didn't matter to me, as I said, I wasn't much of a drinker at the time.
A few days later, I started skipping the gym, going straight to breakfast, then to work by 9:15. After the show to the disco until about 2 a.m., and I would get a nice buzz on. I quickly learned how to turn a magic trick for a guest into a free drink or two.
After a few more days of this I started waking up at 9:00. I'd skip breakfast, go straight to work and after work, to the disco. I'd stay in the disco until 3:00, and get pretty wasted.
A few days later (and for the rest of my time in Cancun) I would wake up at 9:30, already be late for work and get into trouble. I'd stay at the disco until they threw me out because it was closed, and drink so much I needed to be walked home.
(Giant Corona, muy es bueno)
Not exactly why my Uncle brought me there.
When I first showed up, I was introduced to the Chief of Sports. In the hierarchy of Club Med, there are G.O.s (actually, below them are Au Pares which is what I really was because I wasn't getting paid), above them are the Chiefs of their respective fields (windsurfing, sailing, scuba, etc.). They report to the Chief of Sports, who in turn reports to the Chef de Village. Of course, there are other departments, but this was the breakdown of ours.
I told the Chief my name, and that night we had a weekly meeting of the sports crew. He introduced the new G.O.s to the rest of the group, and when he introduced me, he said my name was Slap. I corrected him. He apologized, but it was too late. For my entire time in Cancun, I was known as Slap. My name tag said Slap; every G.O. called me Slap; everyone called me Slap. It was quite annoying. Every week we had a big introduction of all the G.O.s by department to the guests. And every week when the Chief of Sports would introduce the windsurfing group, he would always introduce me as Slap. And to add insult to injury, he would tell everyone I was from New Jersey. Now, I have nothing against Jersey, but I'm a native New Yorker, and it gets annoying when you get asked twenty times a day what exit off the Parkway you live near.
In the other Clubs I had been to, they had this thing called "Village-Village." (pronounced, Villazh-Villazh. Very French sounding) Basically, when the bus load of new guests (called G.M.s for Gentile Members) would show up, those G.O.s that had Village-Village were in charge of processing the guests and showing them to their rooms. Every G.O. had to do it at some point, and it was diplomatically handled so that there wasn't any G.O.s that were stuck doing it all the time.
In Cancun, however, Village-Village was the punishment for being late to shows, work, and for any other disciplinary problems that arose. Needless to say, I had Village-Village four times a week, twice a day. Literally, if there were new guests arriving, I was meeting them. I became known as the King of Village-Village. No one ever seemed to understand that I thought this was the greatest thing in the world. I get to meet all the women first. Mine is the first name they know (of course, I introduced myself as Spat, not Slap). I get to show them around. I know who they're here with, whether it's a husband, boyfriend, parent, or another girl. AND, I now know where their rooms are.
There was only one other person in Cancun that had Village-Village as much as I did. He became known as the Young Prince of Village-Village. We would stand there waving as the guests came off the bus and pick who we would be taking and who we would leave for whichever sucker got in trouble that week and was stuck here with us. Sometimes we picked the same people, and it became a race to see which one of us could get to them first. We never made it obvious we were fighting over someone, but sometimes we were ruthless.
One of the few times he beat me, he brought these two girls inside to get processed, find out what room they were in and get their luggage tickets, only to walk outside and have me snatch the whole packet out of his hands and walk away with the girls. Of course, I played it off to the girls that he was just the luggage boy, and I was the one in charge of escorting them. Like I said, ruthless. Every Thursday was Tequila night. The bartender would set up a table and pour about five or six bottles worth of shots. These shots were free to guests, but were off limits to employees. Every Thursday night things got pretty raunchy. People would do body shots at the bar, and by 2 a.m. the pool was full of half-naked drunk people.
The first Tequila night my roommate and I witnessed, we had to sit on the side and watch. No free shots for us. So we were determined to find a way around it. My roommate Jason was a strange guy. He was an Au Pare like myself, seventeen, Australian, but had been living in Houston for the past five years. His accent was all screwed up. He had an Aussie drawl. Australian guests at the Club would make fun of him all the time. The only good thing was that he was as big a scam artist as I was.
We came up with a plan. We noticed that after the bartender poured out the shots, he would bring the empty bottles back to the bar. That meant that the shots were unsupervised for about thirty seconds. So, we would run over as soon as the bartender walked away, shoot down as many shots as we could and then run away. No salt, no lime, just straight tequila, and lots of it. We had to take the empty shot glasses with us to hide the evidence and sometimes we only got a couple of shots down before the bartender turned back around. Two or three nights, we managed somewhere between eight and twelve shots each. They were fun nights.
I learned something about tequila when I was down there. It has a delay factor that really should be taken into account when drinking it.
I guesstimate that five or more shots of tequila taken within a minute takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to hit. This would explain a few really bad Thursday nights for me when I was down there.
The first night, Jason and I pounded down a bunch of shots and ran away. The Chief of Sports came up to me about a minute later and asked me to referee a Ping-Pong tournament. So I walked to the bar, scammed a beer off a G.M. and headed to the tables.
(Mmm, warm beer and alcohol in out "bar" in the room)
I sat down, put the beer in my lap and they started playing. I was doing pretty good at keeping score and following the action, until someone dropped an anvil on my head. At least, that was what it felt like. Suddenly I couldn't focus; my head weighed three-hundred pounds and I couldn't see that little white ball for my life.
I kept having to stop the game and ask what the score was. It became obvious to me that I was drunk and there was no way for me to follow this game in any normal way. I stopped them again when I had a plan and asked what the score was.
Okay, the guy on my left has three points, so I raise my left hand and hold out three fingers. The guy on my right has two points, so I hold out two fingers on my right hand. Whenever one of them got another point, they would yell to me and I would raise another finger. I really never considered what I would do when one of them got more than five points. I didn't last that long, so it didn't matter. The trouble arose when I would take down my hand to drink my beer. If the guy on the right had two points, I would take a drink, and when I would put my hand back up, suddenly I was holding out four fingers. This went on for about twenty minutes. Every sip would drastically change the score. Unfortunately, I was drinking with either hand, so there was no way to keep track. Soon, everyone in the tournament agreed to keep score for themselves and ignore the drunk with the beer in his lap and the big goofy grin. Worked for me.
The next morning (or what I assume was morning, it was hard to tell, all I knew was it was really hot and very bright out), the Chief of Sports stopped by the windsurfing shack and thanked me for doing such a great job the night before. I was amazed. I barely remembered the night at all, so I was happy. As he walked away, he put his arms out and began wiggling his fingers in a close imitation of what I was doing the night before. Oh well, I was later told that I was forbidden from refereeing any events from then on. That was okay by me.
A week later, Tequila night. Jason and I run up, drink a bunch of shots, scamper away. As we're giggling to ourselves, the Chief of Entertainment comes over and asks us to change into our swimsuits and be by the pool in ten minutes. Ten minutes later we're in the pool, wearing flippers and practicing a water ballet. It would have been quite easy, except for the fact that as I entered the water, the tequila hit and I just flopped around the pool for a while having a good old time. By the next day, I had forgotten all about the pool fun of the night before.
The next Thursday was the Fourth of July. And Tequila night. Trouble from the get go. Jason and I do our shots. Nothing out of the ordinary. A little while later they tell us to get in the pool.
"For what?" I ask.
"The water ballet."
"What water ballet?"
Needless to say, I'm drunk in the water and playing with my flippers, figuring all I have to do is follow the guy in front of me. No problem. Then they handed me a lit torch.
"What am I supposed to do with this?"
Can you believe that they expected me to swim around following the guy in front of me, while carrying a flaming stick of fire in my hand? They did. I told them they were crazy, but they just told me to make sure my hair was wet and do everything exactly as we rehearsed it last week.
"But I don't remember last week!"
So I start swimming. It wasn't that hard. Just keep the torch out of the water and away from my head, and follow the guy in front of me. Easy.
On the way from the deep end to the shallow end, I caught my flipper on the incline on the bottom of the pool and lost one flipper.
Now all the guys behind me are trying to swim around this free floating flipper, and I'm kicking like a madman trying to keep up with the guy in front of me. It's not easy to swim like that, especially while the pool seems to be tilting to one side.
Of course, everyone around the pool could see what was going on. They were all laughing, and me being the natural showman, I was hamming it up. I was drunk, so it seemed like fun at the time.
The next day I couldn't walk. My left leg was so sore I couldn't even get my shorts on to go to work. When I finally got to work, the Chief of Sports stopped by and informed me that I was no longer required to be involved in any activities on Thursday nights.
Well, it's about time!
I was later stopped by the Chef de Village, who thanked me for putting on such an interesting show for the Independence Day celebration. Apparently he was a big fan of Charlie Chaplin and thought I was doing all of that flopping around on purpose.
Hey, whatever works.
I have lots more stories about Cancun. Some that I can post, and some I really can't. The statute of limitations hasn't run out yet on some of the things I did. I'll write the rest up some other time, but this seems like a good intro to my time there.
If you have any questions, E-Mail me. Spat@spat-nospam-cave.com