Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Lawrence of Aruba
Something a bit different today ...
Call me Larry. Most people do. Especially the ladies. Well, that one lady. At least I think she was a lady. Anyway, that's not important. Sand. Sand is important. There was lots of sand. White sand. Stretching as far as the eye could see. I built sandcastles.
My tour guide, Mr Dryden, said to me, "Lawrence, only two kinds of creatures don't have fun on the beaches of Aruba. Dweebs and losers, and you are both."
"No, Mr Dryden, it's going to be fun."
He just looked at me and laughed.
The hotel room was not what I'd hoped.
"Mr Dryden, this is a nasty, dark little room."
"That's right," he said.
"I am not happy with it."
He smiled a smile full of gold teeth, bubble-gum and cheap rum. "It's better than a nasty, dark little trench."
I couldn't tell if he was bad-mannered or just half-witted, but he was bigger than me, so I just smiled back.
The next morning on the beach they had camel rides. Somehow I felt drawn to the camel. The camel felt drawn to my sneakers, and chewed holes in both of them. It sucked half a toenail off my left big toe. I hadn't been sucked that hard since ... well, since that 'lady' who called me Larry. Nice girl. big hands though.
The camel ride operator came up to me and said, "Are you badly hurt?"
I looked up at a cute brown face, framed by long, dark hair.
"I'm not hurt at all," I said. "Didn't you know? These sneakers are made from hemp grass. I care about the Earth."
"Me too!" She hugged me. "Would you like to come to a rally tonight?"
"Um, sure," I said. "I love cars."
"No, silly." She giggled. "It's a friends of the Earth rally. We are trying to stop tourists destroying the beaches."
"Oh? What's destroying the beaches?"
"Well, the camel shit isn't doing it any favours."
She gave me a flier with an address and time for the rally.
To pass the time before the rally I went to a beach bar. The bartender looked me up and down.
"This is a bar for rich tourists," he said.
"Then I'll just have a tap water, thanks. And could you put one of those little umbrellas in it."
I nursed my water, twirling the umbrella around the glass. A short fat man in a white suit came and sat at my table.
"Can I buy you another drink?" he asked.
"Sure, tap water with an umbrella," I said.
"Water?" He looked impressed. "You're drinking the tap water in Aruba? Have you no fear, American?"
"My fear is my concern," I told him.
"And the concern of your trousers."
He pushed an envelope across the table.
I did. Two tickets to Cats, playing that night.
"I can't take these."
"It's only a local amateur production," he said. "They were not expensive."
He looked confused. "To cats?"
"No, to cheap vinyl seats and stage smoke."
He lost his temper. "You, sir, are a clown!"
"We can't all be Cats lovers."
"I was only trying to save you from yourself, sir. You must not go to the rally."
"And Cats tickets was all you could offer me?"
He was yelling now, his eyes bloodshot. "What in hell do you want. Lawrence?"
"Like any single male tourist, I just want my ration of local ladies."
"You are a fool. Think who will be at the rally, and who you are."
He stormed out and left me to finish my water. I felt all warm inside. Warm and queasy.
I knew who would be at the rally. She would be. She was cute and sexy. And I was horny.
I skipped dinner. Just didn't feel like food for some reason. The flyer said the rally started at 8 pm. I arrived fashionably late at 8:02.
There she was. Smiling at me. Wrapping her arms around me.
"Not yet, baby. But maybe later." Sometimes the old jokes are the best.
She was holding me tight. Very tight. I felt ropes being tied around my wrists.
"Whoa! I don't mind the kinky stuff, babe, but maybe we should be alone first?"
She slapped me across the face.
"Shut up, yankee capitalist scum!"
"Are you sure you don't want to do this back in my hotel room?" I asked.
She laughed. A cold, cold laugh.
"Don't you get it, Larry. This is an anti-tourist rally ... and you are a dirty, lowdown, sleazy, yankee tourist of the lowest order."
I could not let that pass.
"That's just not true," I said indignantly. "I'm no yankee. I'm from Arizona."
They maneuvered me over to a pile of wood and tied me to a post. Torches were lit, and they began to dance and chant something about burning and capitalism. Quite catchy, with a kick-ass steel drum solo.
The pile of wood was lit, the flames rose higher and higher. I knew I was going to die. At that moment I realized that the lady--the one who had called me Larry and sucked my toe as hard as the camel--had an Adam's Apple. How could I have been so stupid. I screamed a tortured scream to the heavens.
Then my stomach churned, flexed, and voided itself in a violent spray of tainted water and shrimp cocktail. It seemed to go on forever. I twisted my body this way and that until I slumped against the pole, empty and exhausted.
The fire had gone out. Smothered in a spray of liquid solids.
The anti-tourist rally goers fled in terror, crying, gagging, and screaming in horror. I was alone.
Hours later I freed myself from my bonds and staggered back to the hotel.
The next day, as I boarded my flight home, a smiling stewardess asked me if I had enjoyed my stay in Aruba.
"On the whole," I said. "On the whole I'd rather have gone to Niagara Falls."
"Oh?" she said. "Do you have a fondness for large amounts of rushing polluted water?"
"I certainly do," I said. "I most certainly do."
Dedicated to my old friend Kerrin Jones, who once went to a special showing of Lawrence of Arabia at the Embassy and fell asleep. But he said he only missed the bits in the desert.