Not all of the gringos who live, full or part time in Mahahual, are the same. In fact, most fit into one of three different types. The first would be your wealthy, country club sort of gringo, most of which have large villas on the beautiful beaches just outside of town and visit once or twice a year when the stress of being filthy rich, becomes too much for them. The second are those investor types who came to open their own small dream business and leave the US rat race for a quieter, and more simple life. Oh, were they ever surprised! Most live in Mahahual year round, and they because of this, become more a part of the local community than the first group. The third type is the gringo who does not own property but has moved to the area full time for whatever reason; anything from running from bill collectors or ex-wives, to some who the US way of life, just simply did not work for them anymore. The Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time Boys were not of either of the first two groups, so they must belong to the latter.
On this day, it was Saturday, which meant there were no cruise ships in town and therefore an opportunity for the local gringos to come into town and avoid the crowds, or possibly worse, brushing elbows with the Joe Six-pack tourists from a cruise ship. Oh, how middleclass would that be!
The Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time Boys were all focused on Buster’s TV, where the third round of the US Open golf tournament was on. Unfortunately, the table next to them was a loud and boisterous group, the leader of which was Buddy Green, a “local” who owned the largest house in all the Costa Maya area, along with a few of his Bradenwood Country Club friends, who had flown down from Atlanta to hang out for a week.
The wives had all followed Buddy’s wife Ms. Sasha out for some shopping, where she would show them all the fine art of talking a dirt poor local down $5 on a $10 handcraft, the same $5 that would buy tortillas for the family for several days, or pay for Sasha’s double mocha latte at the airport when she returned home.
The Bradenwood Boys were loud and gobbling burgers and tacos as fast as chef Pedro could make them. The golf stories we’re also flying around too, and perhaps a bit too loud for the 3/4 Time Boys, who we’re struggling to hear the TV commentators.
“Did I ever tell you guys about the time I hustled Mickelson for a grand on #6 at the Bradenwood,” roared Buddy to his Tommy Bahama shirt wearing amigos.
“Only about 500 times,” laughed the fattest of Buddy’s very fat, and very rich friends.
Buster happened to be walking by, so Buddy stopped him and told his story for the 501st time. “I bet him $500 he couldn’t drive the green and then another $500 I could beat him on the hole. What he didn’t know was that #6 is way more uphill than it looks and if you are short, the grass in front of the green is impossible to hit from. Well, of course his tee shot was short, his pitching wedge got stuck in the grass on his chip and then he three putted for a bogey. I hit two 5 irons and two putted, and then banked a grand of old Phil’s winnings.” All laughed and of course, Buddy laughed the loudest.
Finally, Giles had heard enough and decided to call Buddy on his very noisy claim.
“Oh paleeeeze,” he laughed in a very condescending tone he was so good at doing. “You really don’t expect any of us to believe you beat Phil Mickelson at anything, especially golf! Why, I could beat your old wore out, fat ass myself, so I’m sure Phil could beat you right handed.”
Buddy, who was very unaccustomed to being questioned, suddenly looked over at the Boys table, and gave Giles the look that said he should be very glad Buddy could not fire him.
“You know you little twit,” growled Buddy. “I don’t know what makes me angrier, you accusing me of lying, or saying you can beat me at golf. If we had a golf course around here, I’d drag your little ass out there a drub it around for 18 holes.”
Giles, who had known and hated Buddy and Sasha for years, laughed and said in his very “gayest” voice, “Buddy, the thought of you drubbing my ass is enough to make me go straight! As far as golf goes though, my guess is me and my guys could beat a bunch of fat old, wore out desk jockeys any day and you should be glad we don’t have a golf course, cause if we did, there would be a whole lot of ass drubbin’ going on big boy and it would be your asses getting drubbed.”
“Guys, can we not talk about ass drubbin’,” laughed Ronny.
“Bold talk little man, since you know there is no course for us to settle the matter,” said Buddy, totally ignoring Ronny. “Any place, anytime, little fella!”
Buster had been watching the conversation and saw just the opportunity he had been looking for. Now it was his turn. He walked over to the group and inserted himself between the two tables.
“I’ve been listening to you guys and I gotta warn you Buddy, these guys are pretty good.”
The Bradenwood Boys looked over at the 3/4 Time Boys, slouching over their beer bottles and baskets of Buster’s free chips, and all began to laugh.
“I know they don’t look like much, but I’d be willing to bet that on the right course, and the right format, those guys could beat you. I’m serious.”
“Suddenly, Buddy’s smile got very big and he said, ” Buster, did you just say you would bet that these guys could beat us? Is that what you said? Because if you did, we’ll all pile into the Suburban and go up to Cancun and settle this, if the bet is right enough.”
“We don’t need to go all the way to Cancun,” said Buster. “You said ‘anytime, anyplace’, so I assume I can add any format to that too?”
“Any format! Match play, stroke play, hell any way you want play and we’ll take these chumps and your money, big boy!”
“Come on Buddy, you know me. I never have any money, so it can’t be for much. How about we do this. I’ll take the 3/4 Time Boys and the loser has to buy all new gloves for the local little league team. We would just waste your money on cheap tequila and even cheaper women, right boys. Probably best if we do it for a good cause instead.” They all gave pathetic grins and timid nods. “So what do you say guys. Anytime, anyplace, any format?”
Buddy, still grinning ear to ear, said, “Bring it.”
“Cool!” laughed Buster. “So the match is tomorrow at noon right here at Busters. We can probably get it in before the final round of the Open starts tomorrow on TV. The format is called “tequila golf shots”. I know, you’ve never heard of that format, and that is because it is only played here in Mahahual. Just because we can’t have a golf course, doesn’t mean we can’t play golf.”
The Bradenwood Boys all looked puzzled and a bit uneasy. None were big drinkers, so the word tequila had them nervous all the sudden.
“Here is how the game is played. I have our floating ” green” which is actually a 2 meter, by 2 meter floating square of PVC pipe that serves as the target. We move it around and use floating balls. Match play and the first to hit the target, wins a point for the group. First group with three points, wins the hole. Each hole we float the tee to another spot and whichever group wins four holes first, wins. Oh, and at the end of each hole, each player has to take a shot of El Compadre tequila. Hense, the name, tequila golf shots.”
Now, the Bradenwood Boys actually began to look worried. Buddy, still arrogant to the end, looked at Buster and said, “Check please, and add a round of shots for Giles and his team over there. They might want to start working out and getting ready for tomorrow. Don’t worry guys, we can do four lousy shots, which is all it will take for us to win this.”
With that, Buddy tossed two, one hundred dollar bills on the table and away the Bradenwood Boys strutted. “Keep the change Buster, you might need it to buy some gloves.”
Ronny knocked down his tequila immediately and said to Buster, “Do you think we can really out golf those guys? They look like they play a lot.”
“I’m not betting you guys can out golf them,” said Buster with a grin. “I’m betting you can out drink them.”
The Boys all began to laugh, knowing Buster knew exactly what he was doing. Each Sunday evening after Buster closed, and all the guest had left, the boys would get out the floating balls and green, and the only golf club they had, an old Wilson sand wedge, and each took turns hitting the floating target. And like most golfers, regardless of their skill level, all have that one club they can consistently hit perfect. Since the Boys only had one club, they quickly mastered it, and all called it their favorite. Giles, who had played on the BYU team in his younger days, and could still swing a pretty mean sand wedge, and actually could probably have beaten any of the four old fat guys on any course. Ronny, the natural athlete of the bunch, had played football at South Carolina, but spent his summers working as a caddie in Myrtle Beach, where he charmed the country club girls and became a scratch golfer in his leftover time. Over the years he quit playing, but after a few Sunday evenings, he too was hitting the target more than he missed it. Ernie played on the police precinct team and Rick was a weekend hacker that wasn’t very good but like everything else Rick did, he enjoyed it in an inebriated condition, making golf just a four hour drinking game for him, so he had played often. Buster was pretty sure that after one or two tequilas, even those two would be mopping up the beach with the Bradenwood Boys.
He walked over to where Bill and Betty were sitting and slid into the empty chair next to them. Betty was the coach of the local little league team, and earlier in the day, she had been telling Buster how the kids needed new gloves and gear. Buster had told her to let him think of how they could raise the money and he would get back to her. He leaned over to Betty and said very softly, “We just got our new baseball gloves.”
The next day, the whole town was buzzing about the big golf match and that the kids were getting new baseball gloves. The crowd gathered, not a one who had ever seen a golf match in their lives, but ready to watch to see who would buy the new gloves. Conch shells were used to mark two different “tee boxes”, which had perfectly raked sand and ready for the first shot. Buster had Maribel, the towns most famous prostitute, famous for two very good reasons, as the card girl, holding up a sign with the number of each hole as the match progressed. When she held the numbered cards above her head, her short skirt would raise, showing her rather spectacular behind for all to see. Maribel’s behind was nothing everyone in town hadn’t seen on many occasions, Buster knew that. He also knew it really made Buddy’s wife, Ms Sasha, furious because her husband could not take his eyes off it either.
Since Buster got to name the format and rules, he also matched the golfers and he of course matched Buddy with Giles, so they both approached the first tee box together. The Bradenwood Boys were carrying Buddy’s “last years clubs”, an expensive set that probably cost more than most people make in a year in Mahahual, which Buddy always kept at the beach house, just in case he went up to the Cancun area for a round of $250 golf. The 3/4 Time Boys came walking up with the old Wilson. The PVC target floated about 30 yards away and the ball boys were all swimming around waiting, each getting a peso for every ball they brought back.
Buddy and Giles stepped up first, and Buddy said, “Ladies first Giles. Feel free to play from the red tees too, if that is better for you.”
Giles dropped his ball into the hitting area, never taking his eyes away from Buddy. He walked over to the ball, and with little more than a quick glance at the ball and the target, made the perfect swing and watched as the ball landed dead center of the target.
Buddy’s eyes made a small but noticeable twitch, and after a brief pause, he stepped into the tee box and dropped his ball. He grinned at Giles, and then at Maribel and let go another perfect swing, and again, the ball landed in the target area. Ronny and Fat Man with the Taylor Made hat also both stepped up and did the same. Ernie was next and he missed badly to the right. Fat Man with the Titleist hat nailed his shot and the Bradenwood Boys had the first point.
Maribel brought the shot glasses, large double shot glasses at that, and poured all 8 golfers their first shot. Her back was to Miss Sasha, but her unbuttoned blouse was looking right at the golfers, who were in return, doing the same right back at Maribel. They all knocked down their shots, and headed for the next tee. The gallery roared!
“I know one golfer who needs to keep his eye on the ball,” yelled Ms. Sasha as the group passed.
The second hole went exactly the same, with the Bradenwood boys getting another point. Once again Maribel poured the shots, and again, all drank, except this time, the Bradenwood Boys had more of the “tequila look” on their face, than the look of confidence they had after the first hole. Maribel had unbuttoned another button, jumped a bit higher with her sign and Ms. Sasha got a little redder.
The next hole went a bit different. Both Fat Man with Titleist hat and Fat Man with Taylor Made hat missed the target, while the 3/4 Time Boys all nailed their shots. The Boys quickly guzzled their shots and headed for the next shot. The Bradenwood Boys paused, and asked for salt and lime, which Buster said the format did not allow. The boys winced, and downed their shots like real men.
From there it went downhill for the Bradenwood Boys. The 3/4 Time Boys won 2 straight, then lost the next one on purpose, just so they could drink more of Buster’s free tequila, and to watch the other guys get just a little bit more drunk. Finally, the Boys won their forth hole and the match was over. Fat man with the Tommy Bahama hat was throwing up behind a small coco tree up the beach, while Fat Men Titleist and TaylorMade were stumbling toward Buddy’s suburban. Buddy, who was having trouble finding his bag of very expensive last year’s clubs, was getting the evil eye from Ms Sasha, and the come hither look from Maribel. He spotted his clubs leaning against a coco tree and decided to go to them instead.
Buster and coach Betty came over to the very drunk, and very beaten Buddy, and said, “So are you buying gloves here or shipping from the US.”
Buddy laughed and said, “I’ll send them from the US. After that hustling, I’ll send gloves, balls and bats. I’ll use Mickelson’s grand on it, what the hell.”
Away he stumbled and Buster looked at Betty and said, “I told you. Just give me a little time and I knew I could get you gloves. Now what else can I do for you.”
Betty’s eyes began to glow and she said, “well the kids in Lemones just got new uniforms and our poor kids look so ragged, … .”
And so it goes when you are living and dyin’ in 3/4 time.