Thursday, May 5, 2011

Third Person Thursday: Authentic Cinco de Mayo

The border crossing into Mexico was two solid hours behind them. Larry figured they were deep enough into the country to get the real flavor.

“Next town we see, hon,” he reassured his wife, Cynthia. “We’ll stop and have some margaritas authentico.”

As if on cue, a road sign for Lampazos de Naranjo appeared around the bend and within a few minutes, the couple found themselves driving through a town of adobe buildings. Larry was reminded of scenes from his favorite Clint Eastwood westerns. Cynthia looked out the car windows and remarked, “How quaint.”

“That looks perfect,” exclaimed Larry and pulled quickly onto the patch of dirt in front of a wooden building whose sign read Nico’s. “Talk about an authentic Mexican experience. Let’s celebrate Cinco de Mayo right.”

Larry and Cynthia nearly leapt from their car and ran around to the back. They opened the hatchback and removed two obnoxiously large sombreros.

“You don’t think wearing these will be offensive, do you, dear?” Cynthia asked her husband as she hesitated to don the colorful headpiece.

“Of course not,” Larry reassured her. “Hell, all the locals wear ‘em. We’ll fit right in.”

Her fears at ease, Cynthia proudly placed the sombrero on her head and took her husband’s hand as the dangling balls around its brim swayed before her eyes. The two strode confidently over the dirt lot and swung the door of the bar open. The disappointment Larry felt in the front door being the type they might find on a bar back home in the States rather than the double swinging doors from the same Clint Eastwood westerns was quickly remedied by the sight they were met with.

Inside the bar, about three dozen patrons sat, each wearing sombreros and ponchos. The colors on them were bright yellows and reds and greens. Not quite enough to rival the neon pink and purple and rhinestones of Cynthia’s hat, but decidedly festive nonetheless.

What is more, when the first of the men leaning against the bar saw the couple walk in, he shouted with vigor, “Americanos!” With this, the rest of the bar erupted in cheers and shouts of, “Feliz Cinco de Mayo!” Several of them jumped to their feet and took Larry and Cynthia by the arms and led them to a table.

Once seated, they sat around Larry and Cynthia and answered their every question about Mexico. They regaled them with stories of Mexican culture and tradition, most of which Larry chuckled at. They were served drinks and fed tamales, carnitas and menudo. As they leaned back in their seat and down the final sips of their margaritas and wiped flan from the corners of their mouths, they thought of how amazing the locals’ hospitality was.

“I cannot thank you enough seen-your,” Larry said to the waiter. “So tell me. What’s the damage?”

“The bill, sir, comes to 600 pesos.”

Larry took a deep breath. “Whoo! That’s a bit steep.” He took out his wallet and held it in his hands. “And I was under the impression you all loved American dollars. ‘Fraid I don’t have any pesos. But I’d be happy to run out to the local bank-o and switch it out.”

“No need, sir,” The waiter grinned. “We accept your currency here. And we love your American dollar so much we will give you half price. Only 300 American dollars for you, sir.”

“You see, dear,” Larry turned and bragged to Cynthia. “I told ya they’d love us here.”

When the bill was settled, Larry and Cynthia walked to their car happy and a bit tipsy. “I bet we would have been even more of a hit if I hadn’t let you talk me out of wearing that phony mustache,” Larry said and put the car in reverse. They drove out onto the main road, content that their Mexican adventure in celebration of Cinco de Mayo had been a huge success.

As they kicked up dust in the parking lot and pulled out onto the main road, the bartender stared out the window. The rest the bar’s occupants were taking off their sombreros and ponchos, revealing dress shirts, slacks and work uniforms underneath.

Raul, the man who had first spotted Larry and Cynthia as they entered asked the bartender, “Is that another round on the house then?”

“Not yet,” he responded and turned hurriedly from the window. “Outfits back on everyone! More American tourists!”

As they all scrambled to put the gaudy ponchos and sombreros back on, Raul prepared to act in mock surprise once again. “This will make two rounds on the house after we get rid of them,” he reminded the bartender.

“Make it two rounds on the gringos. Happy Cinco de Mayo,” the bartender responded and they both laughed.

When the three college-aged men walked through the door, Raul shouted on cue, “Americanos!”

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