It came over me like a dark cloud: a wave of muck, broken tree branches, moss, liquid filth containing the putrid remains of reptiles and rodents.  I was drowning, suffocated by a toxic funk. I couldn’t breathe, my throat was parched, my eyes burned, and my ears were ringing.  It started off slowly and the sound grew. I figured that if I was going under, I might as well be able to do it in peace and quiet, but the sound grew louder. I still couldn’t move. I was trapped, caught up in a swamp with darkness closing in. I couldn’t move. I tossed and turned, but it was to no avail. The sound grew louder.

“Will you please shut off the alarm!” my wife said.

After a couple of elbow shots to the ribs, I began to make out the image on the clock. 5:45 AM. We had three hours before our flight. The ear-piercing sound of the alarm caused my mental functions to seize up and I was paralyzed in bed.  I untangled my arm from the sheets and hit the snooze button. It took my several minutes to find out how to deprogram the clock so it wouldn’t go off yet again.

I was the first to get out of bed. It was a horrible night. Not only was the hotel room at the Ohare Airport hot and dry, but Chicken Man had gotten into my head. The rat bastard had kept me awake all night. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was chickens. This is a fairly common phenomenon for a practicing sexologist. Think about it: a patient comes into the office to work the bugs out of his head by sharing his darkest, lurid, and most depraved fantasies. Invariably, it rubs off. No one can swim in ditch water without falling prey to the leeches. I usually have an elaborate process that I use to let go of these thoughts, but I hadn’t had the time. I taught myself to distance myself from all of this nonsense at work when I was treating a guy who worked in a pickle factory.

In each session, he went on and on about wanting to stick his penis into the pickle cutter. The mere thought of it made me cringe, pull my thighs together defensively, and lean forward. It was unthinkable and I scarcely had words to describe the horror. The image was burned into my mind: the cold metal hole, the razor-sharp blade, the spring-loaded chopper, the vinegar, etc. It was too much to bear. Nonetheless, it was his fantasy, and I had to make sense of it.

He terminated his sessions and I didn’t see him again for a year. He was working in a grocery store at the meat counter. I placed my order and asked him how he was. Much to my surprise, he came right out with it. “Hey, Doc. I finally did it! I put my penis in the pickle cutter.”

Befuddled, I responded, “And, what happened?”

“Oh, I got fired.”

“But, what about the pickle cutter?”

“Aw, she got fired, too.”

I dragged myself into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Chicken Man was still weirding me out. The last thing I needed was him in my head. My daughters, my wife and I had been planning the vacation for some time, and it was time to disconnect. We hadn’t had any time together since our ill-fated venture into the bizarre and weird in Las Vegas last summer.  After a cold and cloudy winter, we were ready for the sun. The only problem was that we were too tired to do anything.  We didn’t plan any adventures, not a single one. A friend told me that “Los Cabos” was great for parasailing, big game fishing, banana riding, and zip lines. The hell with that shit, I told myself. I had been pounding out a daily nine-to-five since August and there was no way I was going to expose myself to cracked ribs, drowning, shark attacks, massive contusions, and broken bones in the name of fun. Humiliation and death weren’t on the agenda. What I needed was rest and relaxation.

We made our way to the terminal and listened to the weather report for Chicago. It called for steel-gray and overcast skies for ten consecutive days. This monotony would be interrupted only once by snow showers around mid-week. The average high was around 37 degrees. The forecast in Los Cabos called for sunny skies, a high of 85 degrees, and slight breeze coming off the Pacific. It would be cool at night, and we would have to put on light jackets. We stuffed our winter coats in the suitcases and checked our bags. Two hours later, we boarded the flight.

It is only four and a half hours from Ohare to Los Cabos International. If you pick up a sandwich and good book, the time goes by fast.  Upon arrival, the first thing you notice is the warm weather, and they you see how bizarre the tourists look. Most of the flights into Cabos come from sunny Los Angeles and San Diego. So, suddenly there is a mix of Midwesterners among the Californians. It is reminiscent of an old rerun of Bonanza. The Chicagoans are beefy, they wear earth tones, have milk-white skin, and many are slobbering drunk. The Californians in contrast were dressed like porn stars on their way to the Magic Kingdom: bright yellow shirts, exposing tattooed body parts, leopard-skin pants, snakeskin boats, extra-tight low-rider designer jeans, gold chains, wraparound sunglasses, and aerodynamic hair styles that keep them on course in the stiff Santa Ana Winds.

I couldn’t help but notice that there was something “Rooster-like” in their hair styles.

“Los Cabos” refers to two little tourist towns at the tip of the Baja Peninsula: San Lucas and San José. Thirty years ago, there were only three thousand families living in this area, but over the last two decades, the tourist industry has grown and the population has ballooned to over 250,000. Both places were designed to compete with Palm Springs and Las Vegas, bringing in weekend golfers, snowbirds, sport fisherman, and Spring Break partiers. As a result, the coast is chocked full of hotels, apartments, time shares, knick-knack stores, t-shirt stands, bars, and restaurants. You can find everything from dive bars where everyone gets wasted on cheap tequila and mescal to world-class restaurants and resorts serving everything from sushi to upscale Mexican fusion.

Although the rest of Mexico has had its hands full with a war between the drug traffickers and the federal government, Los Cabo has been barely touched by the violence. Knock on wood! It is known for long-sandy beaches, rock and cliff formations, and water sports. The biggest attractions are scuba diving, marlin fishing, and whale spotting. Local fisherman line the beach offering their services to take tourists out on the open sea to try their luck.

We made our way through customs, picked up our baggage and caught a taxi to the hotel.

To be continued…

Cross-posted at http://jimmygabacho.com

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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