Cancun, July 2011
Buenas noches en el Parque de las Palapas. Same bench as me, with a dozen others empty nearby. Guapo enough. Within five years of being 20, in which direction I don't know. A cop, park policemen, security guard, maybe just a man in a uniform walking by, looks and sizes up the situation, smiles at me in a way that says, "how pathetic." It occurs to me there are a dozen ways this might end, and very few of them are good, and the only way to ensure one of the unfavorable ones doesn't happen is to leave the situation. It occurs to me that hiring a rent boy goes on the list with buying drugs and getting a tattoo as things I don't intend to do in a foreign country, at least one not named "Netherlands." I'm reminded of Terry Pluto's line that no story that begins "At three in the morning..." is likely to end well.
I stand, say "Buenas noches" again, and I'm on my way. He doesn't follow, doesn't leave. I didn't misread entirely, I'm sure of that; I'm not sure exactly what he was looking for, but it likely wasn't sitting on a park bench chatting with a tourist. Not after asking if I spoke Spanish.
An evening of -- what? What else was I going to do? In Playa del Carmen? Entonces es mejor to have an experience of some kind, and be hospitably disposed to it.
So now I'm in a stylish bar called Taboo with meseros guapos. Mine is no different in age, to look at him, from the kid in the park. Probably over 18 but not by much. An evening that demonstrates my exact thoughts about that idiotic song in that idiotic movie on the bus the other day: "It's the climb." It's not, as Wordsworth taught us, the climb, and not the summit, but what happens after we pass the summit, miss what we were looking for, and suddenly see, unvarnished by hope and expectation, reality.