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More tales from the endless buffet


In my last column, I regaled with true, well mostly true, stories of trips to Mexico involving gluttony, gastronomical feats, miscommunications and strange encounters with half-naked women.
And there’s more.
On a vacation to the RIU Playacar, I couldn’t help but notice the threesome that set up camp a couple of lounge chairs away. There were two young men, each of whom could have been contenders for Mr. Universe. Tanned, ripped, young and handsome. Even their ears undulated with muscles. But it was the third member of the ménage a trios (French for don’t ask, don’t tell) who was the hardest not to notice: 6 feet of bronze skin, blond hair and topless swimsuit (which I noticed only after Sabra pointed it out, I swear).
On my list of songs to live your life by is “Who’s Cheatin’ Who” by Alan Jackson, which begins: “Everywhere you look, you can write a book, on the trouble of a woman and a man.” The lyrics go on to advise you “not to stick your nose into something you don’t understand.”
Good words to live by, but what happens in Mexico… so, I pointed the brim of my orange hat in the trio’s direction, sauntered over and took a chance they spoke English.
“Good morning, I see you’re body builders, I’m a body builder, too!” I said while squeezing my arms together in the classic pose that looks like your about to pick up a keg.
To my relief they did “Habla Inglés,” and we spent the morning chatting about different lifting techniques and the best body oil to use for that special glisten. It turned out one of the guys was engaged to the gal and the other guy was a good friend with both. During one of our conversations, I must have said something funny because it got a good laugh from the woman.
“You’re so funny,” she said, “just like my grandpa.”
On the teaching trip to Xicotopec through the university, I got into a pepper-eating contest with one of the coeds. I warned her three times she was messing with the wrong guy, but she was young and wouldn’t listen.
Did I mention I could have been a competitive eater specializing in peppery food? It’s true. For example, I once took the hot wings eating challenge at the popular restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings. The dare was to eat 24 of the extra hot variety in 10 minutes. You know I hate to brag, but I dunked every one of the appendages in extra sauce then sucked the bones clean in eight minutes.
So on a trip to the farmer’s market, we each picked out a couple of peppers to use in the contest. I went first, taking a nip from one of the tiny green peppers in the selection. It was hot, very hot, enough to kill a normal man. Even though no part of the pepper touched anything but the inside of my mouth the heat spread across my face as if someone tossed acid over it. But I survived.
Then it was her turn. She took a nip and during the course of the next minute her face went from pale white to bright red. Then tears streamed, and I mean flowed like an open faucet, down her cheeks. Finally, she jumped out of her chair and ran from the room, presumably looking for a bucket to dunk her head. Whether it was from the spice or a bug she caught, she soon became so sick she had to be sent home early.
The experience ended any notion of me becoming a professional eater. I hung up my tobacco and never accepted a challenge again, saying, “ I used to eat professionally until I almost killed a girl.”
It was also on this trip we visited a huge open-air food fair in Mexico City. It was a fabulous riot of bright colors and fetching aromas. So much food, so little time. After a quick survey of what was available, I settled on a burrito-looking meal being served up by a little old lady in a small booth.
“Cuanto cuesta?” I asked using my best Spanish, which should have meant how much does it cost. The lady gave me a strange look and then softly whispered, “Sorry, sir, I don’t speak English.”