Back when I was a married man living in Los Angeles, my wife and I took a drive down to Rosarito, Mexico for a little vacation. Passing the border was simple enough, (Mexicans aren’t too worried about Americans sneaking into their country and not returning. If I get a good tan while I’m there, the reverse cross could be dicey.) Somewhere on the dark roads of the Baja peninsula we reach what I’ll loosely call a ‘checkpoint’. Actually it was just a man standing in the road with a machine gun. In America, (outside of Detroit) a man with an automatic weapon usually signifies some sort of governmental/ military activity. But this was Mexico. I get nervous. The man holds up his hand for us to stop. I get real nervous. He approaches the driver’s side and I roll down the window. He smiles. Full set of gold teeth. I swallow hard and shit out my pancreas. We are going to be shot and eaten in Baja. One word passes the 14k divide:
My fears lessens. Sort of. Until I come to the horrifying realization- I don’t know what the correct answer is!! If this is some sort of official I should definitely say no. (I think?!) But what if he’s a dealer, and wants to know if I want some? Worse, what if passing through alive requires that I make a purchase?!! Then I better answer yes! Third, what if this is a bandit, and he wants to steal our drugs? Not having any, I’m dead either way!! Knowing that hesitation is a bad idea in any case, and knowing how well I work under pressure, I answer immediately, something like this:
“Well, no… I mean I'm not sure what you … I mean I don’t know, not this trip, not that I have before but, why...do you need any? I might like to, do you know anyone…? which way is Rosarito?... nothing special there, we're just from LA, Americans on vacation you know, just drove in, first time... very nice place you've got here...No drugs, no way, uh uh, nope none, ooh full moon!...unless- NO you don’t, sure ok … no none sorry though thanks for asking, good luck with everything… best wishes to the family, have a nice night.”
He looked like he was on a crowded elevator and someone farted. Someone with IBS. And he was on the 60th floor. Going down. And it was lunch time.
“Please don’t kill me,” I added. He glanced at my wife. Without a word, he pointed his gun up the road and the message was clear. “Drive on stupid”. My wife looked at me like I just punched a kitten. “What?!” I said. Her look gave the same message.