Originally published July 25, 2016 – “There are (those) whose passports should be stamped NOT VALID OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL LIMITS OF THE USA.”
So wrote one of my favorite authors, the late John D. MacDonald, in The Turquoise Lament, published in 1973.
Having just returned from Costa Rica, I can confirm that is still a valid premise.
Two incidents really brought this home.
The first was when we were dining in the French restaurant at our resort. We were seated next to an American family of four, who were already working on their salads. They were having a typical family vacation dinner conversation: what we did today, what we’re doing tomorrow, what sis did to irritate brother, etc.
As we ordered our dinner, the waitstaff was serving them their entrees.
Three of the four had ordered the lamb chops, delivered in two racks of three bones each. They appeared to have been ordered well-done, judging from the overall charred look of the meat.
As the plates arrived, the son, who appeared to be in his early twenties, picked up a rack with his right hand, and began gnawing the meat off the bones. His mother briefly chided him, perfunctorily and without conviction.
He paid her no mind, and continued tearing with his teeth, tearing the overcooked meat off the bones.
I was trying to make an excuse for this in my mind, when he brought his left hand up, and began picking his nose. Rack of lamb in the right hand; left hand buried knuckle deep in his nostril.
It was amazing.
Just then, the waiter appeared, apparently to ask how the entrees were. However, he took one look, spun, and walked away.
I did the same, focusing on my table, and doing my best to ignore the next table, while mentally making the fifty buck “Caddyshack” bet with myself.
The second incident was later at night, a few days later. I was walking back from one of the shows, when I saw an older woman standing by a golf cart, speaking loudly to the driver, a maintenance worker. He was responding in Spanish, and looked a bit desperate.
She was speaking Loud English with a Texas drawl, and was clearly both irritated, and three sheets to the wind.
I asked if I could be of assistance.
She turned to me, attempted to focus on me, and said, “I’m trying to get THIS MAN to take me home!” Evidently, she had tired of waiting for the official shuttle, and had confronted the maintenance worker for a ride back to her building (probably a 3-block walk).
I said, “Well ma’am, I’m not sure you’re his type!”
Blank stare from Ms. Texas, as she swayed like a palm tree in the breeze (all my best lines are wasted).
I explained the maintenance worker isn’t allowed to shuttle guests, but I’d be happy to walk her back to her building.
She wasn’t having it–it was imperative that, despite the language gap, the maintenance worker drive her to her building, right now! “I want a ride to my building!” she loudly repeated to the worker.
Just then, one of the shuttles pulled up, saving all of us from further disagreement. I helped her onto the shuttle, told the driver her building number, and watched them pull away.
The maintenance worker gave me an emphatic “Muchas gracias!” and headed off to his duties.
As I walked back to my building, I tried to remember where exactly I had first heard the quote “They don’t speak Loud English either!”
Also still a valid premise.