The Livin’and Dyin’ in ¾ Time Boys were sipping coffee, enjoying the warm morning sun as it crept above the Caribbean horizon, and watching, as the Carnival Dream slowly pulled into Costa Maya’s calm, clear waters. Buster was running all directions, “herding cats” he called it, and trying hard to get his operation ready for the onslaught of incoming, fun seeking missiles. The boys always liked to be close by in case Buster needed a hand, as long as they could do so sitting down and with a coffee in hand, which usually limited their help to just giving advice. That and they liked the fresh local cinnamon Buster used in the coffee. In about an hour the town would be alive and full of people, but right now it was still quiet and slowly coming to life. Ahhh, Mahahual!
There is never a dull moment at Buster’s though and this morning was no exception. It was Canada Day, July 1st, and coincidentally, a Canadian tourist had joined the boys for coffee. Canada was of course the topic of conversation that morning, and in that conversation, the Canadian fellow had informed the boys that according to a Canadian Public TV poll, the most famous Canadian of all time was not Wayne Gretsky, as Ronny assured all, or Shania Twain, which Ernie had argued, but was in fact Tommy Douglas, the legislator that created their current nationalized health care system a half century ago. The boys all looked at one another, hoping someone actually knew of this guy, but nobody said a word. They then assured the Canadian, in true American fashion, that no, in fact there were many more popular Canadians than this Tommy Whoever He Is Guy. The discussion soon morphed into a back and forth competition between Ronny and Ernie as to who could name the most Canadians.
On and on they went for several minutes.
“Can Rush count as three even if I can’t name them all”
Finally, after 10 minutes, there was a pause and it appeared that they had named every Canadian … ever, and it was Ronny’s turn. If he could not name another Canadian, Ernie would be the winner. He grinned and said, “Dudley Do-Right!”
The whole table erupted with laughter. They argued whether a cartoon character should count and finally looked to the Canadian guy for the final word. He sipped his coffee and seemed to carefully think that through. After several seconds of contemplation he said, “Not only do I think Dudley Do-Right was a Canadian, I think he might very well have been the very best Canadian ever. Nobody was better than Dudley. I’m going to have to go with Ronny on this one. Canadian.”
The entire group then shifted their gaze back to Ernie. It was clear, ALL Canadians had been named and that there was nothing left to do but admit defeat. Just as Ronny was leaning back in his chair and ready to gloat in his victory, Ernie said, “Dudley’s arch enemy, Snidley Whiplash.” And with that he began his much hated “butt boogy end zone dance”.
“Wait,” yelled Ronny. “Hold on. What was Dudley’s girlfriend’s name , you know the one Snidley always tied to the tracks. She had to be Canadian. Hold on, it will come to me. This ain’t over!” And Ronny sat that way for several minutes before finally giving up and admitting, Ernie knew more Canadians than he did.
Buster walked by with trash cans for the beach and tossed a paper on the table and asked, “Have you guys seen the plan for the new water park they are putting in by the port? Pretty cool.” And away he went with the trash cans, yelling at his waiters to move the loungers and to get more umbrellas.
“Yes, I saw these plans yesterday,” said Ronny. “Their gonna have zip lines, water rides, jungle rivers and cenotes. Supposed to be one of the best when it is done.”
“Yea, but do you think it will bring that many people into this area. You’re still a long way from anywhere and especially an airport,” asked the Canadian.
“I’m sure it will some but it is being built to attract more cruise ships,” said Ronny. “We see a water park, but cruise companies see an excursion they can sell and make money on. Hey let’s face it, those companies are not non-profit outfits.
“But do you want more cruise ships. It seems very nice to me just the way it is. Quiet, quaint, like having your own little piece of paradise.”
“That is what everyone who is not from here says. But ask the people who really are from here, the Mexicans, and they will all tell you they are happy to hear it. It means jobs and really the best kind too. Cruise ship guests are here for just a few hours and at the end of the day, everyone leaves and we get our quiet little town again. That, and they leave a boat load of money in the town where it is very badly needed. Besides that, it’s the Mexicans paradise, not ours.”
“Oh, wonderful. Speaking of paradises, mine is about to get ruined,” groaned Giles. “Get ready. Here comes everyone’s favorite NIMBY.”
Ernie leaned over and whispered to the Canadian fellow, “Get ready. Cat fight! Giles hates this bitch.”
They all looked up to see Ms Sasha, as the locals referred to her, walking toward the group. She smiled, waved and chatted with a few of the locals who smiled back until she walked away, at which time the smiles quickly changed to glares. Ms. Sasha suffered from a combination of both arrogance and stupidity, with a dash of no common sense thrown in for good measure. On top of that she was a lush, usually hammered by 10:00 in the morning. But her husband had made a fortune knocking down trees in Georgia and Alabama, and they had bought themselves a large expensive villa in one of the remote residential beach areas, and this we all assumed, made her drunken behavior okay in her mind. After all, it was her paradise!
The Canadian looked confused and asked, “What is a NIMBY?”
“A NIMBY,” said Ronny, “is someone who has their piece of paradise and doesn’t want anything else to build here in their back yard. N-I-M-B-Y, not in my backyard. Most of us just don’t like Sasha because, well, she’s a bitch NIMBY and usually a drunken bitch NIMBY at that. It’s early, so she might not be too bad today but you’ll see. You’ll hate this lady too. Watch this, I’ll get her going with this picture of the water park.”
As she walked up toward the boys, Ronny said with an ear to ear smile, “Well Ms. Sasha, what brings you to the malecon this early in the morning. I didn’t think you liked it out here with all the tourists.”
She gave all at the table the cursory nod and insincere smile, all except for Giles who she just ignored. Ronny always joked about how he really liked her, saying it was nice to finally meet a lady who didn’t just always like the gay guy best, and Giles simply wrote it off to the fact that he “always had nicer shoes than that bitch and it really pisses her off.”
Ronny slid the paper announcing the new water park over to show it Ms. Sasha and said, “This ought to really bring in the ships. Hell, they’ll be lined up all the way out to your place waiting to get them big ol boats in here.”
She read the paper and tossed it on the table. “I heard about this and I have to tell you, this bothers me. I did not buy down here to be disturbed on my own private beach by a bunch of loud, dust spewing ATV’s going up and down my beach road all day long. I pay taxes and I don’t think I ought to have to put up with that.”
“Oh Ms. Sasha,” said Giles in his very best “bitch” voice. “I think you might be exaggerating just a bit. I think there is a group that goes by your place twice a day, once going and once coming back. Each time the entire group might take 60 seconds to pass your place. That’s 2 minutes a day! How many times a day does that busy body bunch of gossipy old women you hang out with out there drive up and down those roads. If it is about creating dust and dropping oil and gas on the beach road, I’d say you were about even. It is just that the ATV’s create jobs and bring money to the town. Your cars just create gossip. And if you think the $200 dollars a year you pay in property taxes to Mexico justifies your right to hog paradise to yourself, consider the ships pays Mexico about $40,000 a day. If it’s about who pays the most, you busy bodies need to stay out of the way of the tax payers on the ATVs! And besides that, it is not your beach road, it is Mexico’s, so you really don’t have any say how they let Mexican businesses use their roads. But really Sasha, who are you to prance into town a few times a year and say that just because her hipness Ms. Sasha doesn’t want to be disturbed for 2 lousy minutes a day, the town and its citizens will have to live like peasants. Don’t you think that is a bit selfish and self centered Ms Sasha?”
“Don’t you have a boyfriend to go play with Giles. I see you are your usual smart ass self this morning,” she said with a sneer and in her most defiant tone.
“Yes, I certainly am Ms. Sasha. I’m like the homerun hitting queen of smart asses, so when I run into someone like you, who can tee one up for me, it can make my entire day. So, why don’t you answer my question before you storm off though. Why do you think because a few minutes a day, ATV’s drive up your road and disturb you, the entire town of poor people should stay that way.”
“Don’t put words in my mouth missy. I didn’t say that. I just don’t like my little paradise full of a bunch fat assed, all-you-can-eat buffet, drink till they puke, tourist taking over our town.”
“ Not what I see Sasha, and I’m actually here every day,” countered Giles. “I see some people who work hard all year and save a few bucks so they can play hard for a few days and have a good time. Most of the tourist who come here behave themselves pretty well actually. A lot better than you when get all liquored up and make a spectacle of yourself around town calling yourself a “local”? Oh, paleeeeeeze, and just between us girls, you might not ought to make fun of other peoples asses. Do they not have mirrors in those big villas out there on the beach road?”
“You know, I don’t have to take this off you and I don’t have to answer anything to you.” And with that, she began to walk away.
Buster happened back through and saw Sasha’s angry look and all the grins on the guy’s faces and knew something was up. “Hello Sasha, are the guys picking on you cause if they are, let me know and I’ll have security remove them.”
“Just call the dog catcher,” she snarled. “These guys are accusing me not caring about the local community, like I’m just thinking of myself because I don’t want more cruise ships. And Gayboy there is being kinda nasty about it in the process.”
“Careful Sasha, Gayboy is my friend,” laughed Ronny. “And besides he has nicer shoes and a smaller butt than you.”
“Gracias Ronny,” grinned Giles. “I think?” At this point the boys were doing all they could do not explode with laughter.
“Guys, come on now. You act like Sasha is a bad lady and that is not true. Maybe questionable taste in shoes but that don’t make her a bad person. Lighten up on her a little.”
“That’s right,” Sasha said defensively looking down at her shoes. “I work every week at the soup kitchen, contribute to all the local charities and so forth. Don’t say I don’t care about the local community.”
“I think what Giles is trying to say is that the locals appreciate all those things you do for the community. Holiday parties, soup kitchens and so forth are all good and needed. But what these people really need and want are jobs, and since this place was built for cruise ships, we need them to produce the jobs. We weren’t built for high volume hotels or residential living, so those will never provide much economy here. Only ships and a lot of them.”
“It’s like they say back home,” said Ronny, leaning back in his chair. “You give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but if you give that dude a job, you ain’t gonna have to feed him or see his ol’ scroungy ass with the little cardboard sign on the corner, or … something like that. Oh well, you know what I mean.”
“That is actually, very correct Ronny,” laughed Buster. “These people don’t need an economy that keeps them so poor they have to wait on holidays or Fridays to live good. They need one that provides jobs so they can take care of themselves. I haven’t heard a Mexican say the water park is bad thing yet. Only foreigners.”
“The good thing about all this,” said Giles in his most confident voice while looking Sasha right in the eye, “is it doesn’t matter what people like Ms Sasha here actually say or think anyway. If she feels like this place is getting to crowded or even worse, too middle class, God forbid, she can pack and hit the road. And she can take her big butt and all those tacky shoes she wears with her too.”
“That does it. I’m leaving. I will not be insulted and ridiculed by this, this, this … faggot!” And with that, she stormed off and left all roaring with laughter.
Buster laughed along and flopped down in the empty chair with the guys and said, “I’m thinking I just lost another local customer, thanks Giles.”
“Sometimes the truth hurts but stop me when I’m wrong Buster. Not my problem she is a self centered, full of herself, snotty country club bitch. I hope we pissed her off and trust me, you don’t need that kind of business.”
“No trust me, I need any kind of business I can get,” Buster said, still laughing. “Even hers but I gotta tell you. That was funny and I need a good laugh from time to time too. And yes, the locals need those jobs”
“So do you have many of these NIMBYs here,” asked the Canadian?
“Sure, we have a few,” said Buster, still wiping the tears from his eyes. “But most of them aren’t such bitches like Ms Sasha. Most just don’t realize that “their paradise” is actually something built to accommodate the cruise ship industry. Tourism is the number 2 industry in Mexico, so the Mexican Government invests heavily in that industry to provide money and jobs. That’s why this town was built. No cruise ships, and that means no road from the highway, no gas station, no stores, restaurants, internet and so on. I think some of the local foreigners sometimes forget that.”
Suddenly, Ronny snapped his fingers and said, “Nell. Dudley Do-Right’s girlfriend. Her name was Nell.”
“Full name Ronny or it doesn’t count,” announced the Canadian judge. Finally, after a few seconds he said, “Times up. You lose. What does he lose guys?”
“How about on his way back from the port this afternoon, he has to stop at the duty free store and buy a bottle of Canadian whiskey for this evening, in honor of Canada Day and all those Canadians we named today.”
“Deal,” said Ronny jumping from his chair and grabbing his bike. Gotta go sell some all you can drink packages and have my picture made with some drunk ladies. Duty calls. And yes, I’ll pick up a jug of Canadian Deluxe. Nothing but the good stuff for you guys. Oh Canada, hey!!” and away he went to the port.
“Okay boys. Its show time and I gotta go to work,” said Buster as he dashed off to squeeze limes and help peel shrimp. Ernie, Giles and their new Canadian friend finished their coffees and went their separate ways. Giles to sell dresses to fat ladies he promised they would make look thin, Ernie to have a granola breakfast and a doobie, and the Canadian went to enjoy the real reason he came to Mahahual; he went for a swim and snorkeled the downtown reef before heading for the hammock and the frozen drinks.
And so it goes when you are livin’ and dyin’ in ¾ time!