Now that I’m an almost-married chick, I have to say, the exciting, off-the-wall, unexpected, completely random moments with strangers are fewer and farther between. Mostly because I’m no longer putting myself in situations that spawn those type of interactions, and also because I’m not really looking for them anymore…
Which is why it is all the more surprising when weird, random things do happen.
Right at this very moment, I’m sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in McAllen, TX (I came here for the evening to take a client to dinner)… It’s the Renaissance Hotel in McAllen which is the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel where Castro had a clandestine meeting with then-Mexican President Piro in January 1956. It’s a traditional Mexican style courtyard building where most of the rooms look out into a great pool/courtyard area… If you haven’t been here before, I highly recommend it… inexpensive and it feels like you a far away from home… anyway… I digress…
The balconies are not completely private here. They have these walls that start tall near the doorways then slope down to about knee height at the outer railing overlooking the pool. This is important to the story. I hope you’re following me here.
I’m just sitting out here, drinking a very delicious margarita out of one of those awesome glasses where the stem is shaped like cactus. There are some people splashing around in the pool, flirting with each other, completely oblivious to people like me sitting on the porches watching their every move. I’ve got my computer in my lap, my feet up on the other chair and I’m giggling un-fucking-controllably to damnyouautocorrect.com when just over the top of my computer, I notice a man standing on the balcony over looking over the railing. I don’t say a word to him, thinking “if I pretend not to see him maybe he won’t see me…”
But I was wrong.
He was looking out over the pool, when he turned back towards his room and noticed me…
“Oh my! I’m so sorry!” he exclaimed looking at me over the small railing. “I didn’t mean to disturb you!”
Now see… about four or five years ago, I would’ve jumped on this opportunity. A fairly handsome man initiating a conversation with me, in a hotel, cocktails in both our hands… well, that would’ve lead to pretty much one or two things. But things have changed with me. I’m not out looking for anything special. I have something special. So when I’m out on the road, I pretty much keep to myself… absorbed in my iPod, buried in a book or just a generally surly disposition to discourage any possible conversation from strangers. I just don’t want to be in that situation anymore.
But I was completely caught unawares. I am not used to being chatted up while sitting on my hotel balcony, silently engaged with my computer. But homeboy next door thought this would be a perfect opportunity.
“This is wierd. I’ve never been in this situation before,” he said quickly, indicating the small balcony wall separating us.
I was about to say something when..
“Oh by the way, great taste in computers.” he says. I wish there was a great adverb out there in the world that described how fast this man talked. But I cannot find one. Trust me. Every word coming out of his mouth is micro-machine-man fast. In the entire interaction between he and I, I might’ve said two dozen words max.
“Um… thanks…” I throw out.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to intrude. I just got back from doing a lecture and I’m completely wired and you’re just trying to enjoy a cocktail and do some work.” he apologizes.
“Well, not quite,” I’m far too honest. I should’ve taken the out. “I just got back from dinner with a client and now I’m amusing myself on damnyouautocorrect.com.”
“Have you ever seen this sight before?” I ask.
“No…” the slowest words to come out of his mouth all evening.
“Oh man, it’s awesome,” I’m suddenly enthusiastic. “Do you have an iPhone? Yes? Well, it’s just screenshots of funny mistaken corrections done by people’s iphones.”
Really, I’m not trying to engage the guy in conversation. I’m more incredulous that there are people out there that haven’t heard of this website before!
“Oh.” He seems unimpressed.
I go on to read him one, completely out of context, about sodomizing a cat or something. Perhaps that wasn’t an appropriate place to start. I see that he’s not getting it and I cut my losses.
“Well, you have to trust me. It’s hilarious.”
“Oh okay great. I see you’re having a margarita…” and he launches into this one-man show about his favorite cocktails and the fact that he’s Canadian and his favorite drink is a Cesar but they don’t have Caesars in the states the further south you go except they make a great caesar here and a lot of Americans think it’s like a bloody mary but it’s got clamato juice in it have you ever heard of clamato juice you really should try it it’s tomato juice and clam juice and the clam juice really just gives the drink the kick it needs and he ordered a vegetarian quesadilla from room serivce and ohmigod I think that’s it right there at the door.
He rushed back into his room and, whew, I thought I was clear. Oh but no I wasn’t.
“You know, before when I was talking to you,” he breathlessly said a few minutes later, “I wasn’t trying for anything back there. I see you’re married and I’m married so I’m not making any advances at you.”
I took this opportunity to actually speak. “Yes, thank you. I appreciate that. Yes, I am married.” I’m not but I’m close to it. And this dude didn’t need to know the paperwork wasn’t 100% official yet. Fuck, I was beginning to think I would need to tell him that my husband was actually in the room and about to come out shortly.
“And I just wanted to come out and give you something,” he said.
Oh my God I was mentally preparing myself for him to whip out his willy, a la crazy-sex-predator.
“I’m a writer, researcher and speaker and when I just went back into my room I felt bad for bothering you and I felt like I should give you something and I had these two dvds of mine and I felt like I should give you one—” he extends them out to me over the divider (which I have come to hate at this point). Reluctantly, I stand up and move toward him. A small part of my brain wonders if as I get closer, he’s going to stab me with a needle like Dexter does or chloroform my face and hurt me. The other part of me thinks I should just accept whatever crazy-ass gift he’s offering because maybe then he’ll go away.
He waves two discs at me. “I’m a speaker and I’ve made a couple documentaries about health and really I don’t know which one you should have so I guess I’ll leave it up to fate pick a hand.” Before I knew it, he put them both behind his back and made me pick.
“Um….” I was completely baffled by this entire exchange. Is this really fucking happening?? All I was doing was enjoying an authentic margarita on the balcony of my historic hotel room. “Um… left? I guess?”
He shoved at me the disc in his left hand. A documentary about healing cancer.
“Wow. I didn’t know which one to give you so I decided to leave it up to the universe because it has this way of deciding these things and I think you were totally meant to have this one not necessary because you have cancer or will get cancer but I believe that this will make a difference in your life–”
I was almost hyperventilating on this guys behalf because he hardly took a breath between thoughts, let alone a whole fucking pause.
“–and you know what is so interesting here are two people both married but we don’t even know each others names and theres just this tiny wall separating us so I’m going to leave my balcony door unlocked tonight and if you should want to you can come right in and nobody would need to know and we won’t even see each other again it’s just a perfect situation–”
Are you fucking kidding me?
“–and wow I think I scared you I’m sorry I’m that wierd guy you don’t know and now I’m propositioning you while you’re just trying to have a nice quiet night at a hotel. I’ll go back inside now.”
And just as soon as he appeared, he went back inside.
Dazed, literally, because I couldn’t process everything he had said, I sat back in the plastic chair and started writing this post. We might’ve hit a record because about ten minutes went by without a disturbance and I thought I was in the clear. I thought wrong.
“I’m sorry…” Jesus. He’s back. Fuck. “It must’ve seemed weird. I didn’t mean anything inappropriate about that before. Was it weird? Did I make you uncomfortable because if I did please tell me I just think that this situation is perfect because we are two strangers both traveling in a strange place and nobody knows us and we’re both leaving tomorrow and it seems like fate that you’re out here and there’s just this small wall and when I came out and saw you out here you just looked so comfortable and familiar and like someone it would be great to have fun with—”
At this point, my hackles are raised. I’m purposely displaying body language that says I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation.
“So I’m sorry if I was inappropriate I didn’t mean to be I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to that auto correct website it actually made me laugh out loud and I haven’t laughed in years you see I’m a philosopher and I think I look at the world differently than other people–”
Holy fuck dude. Shut the fuck up.
“–so things aren’t as funny to me because things aren’t funny when you can predict the punchline right and that’s why this website is funny even though some of them are probably set ups but that’s fine it’s still a bit unexpected–”
By now, I’m just looking at this dude in complete wonder. For a philosopher, he’s completely oblivious to the fact that I am projecting ‘You Are A Lunatic’ vibes at him. Then he has to go an say something that piques my interest..
“–but this place just seems different like there are spirits here or something this hotel is out of a movie set and how great would it be for two strangers to meet at this movie set type hotel and have a rendez-vous… it just seem historic–”
“Well, yes, this is a historic sight,” I chime in. Fucking Grace. Shut up. Don’t engage in conversation!!
“Oh it is?” He asks.
I tell him about Castro and we talk briefly about the history of this region and how bloody it is. We talk about spirits and ghosts and then he launches into another breathless monologue…
“Again, I’m sorry about what I said earlier did it make you uncomfortable I can see if it did because how strange would that be if I snuck across this wall tonight and went into your room while you were asleep–”
Ok. Now I was just getting plain creeped out. I started to let him know this.
“–I’m just saying you’re the girl next door and I’m the stranger next door and it would just be something out of a movie is that creepy?”
“Yes. Yes it is. If I were you, I wouldn’t say that kind of thing to anyone else.” I firmly stated.
“–yes you’re right but I guess it’s not too creepy you don’t have security here or anything have you ever seen the movie serendipity because that is what I thought of when I first saw you it just felt serendipitous–
While he was talking, I felt something over my shoulder towards the door back into my room.
“–your door just opened.” He confirmed what I thought, completely reading my mind. Fucking ghosts. “are you expecting someone or are you alone–”
“–don’t answer that I shouldn’t have asked that’s inappropriate of me I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to scare you about your door I think it was probably just a vaccuum of air or something–”
Now I’m sitting here listening to this guy rail on about creepy as fate scenarios weighing the options: sit on the balcony, continue to be propositioned and then questioned about the proposition by the talkative Canadian or go inside with the ghosts?
I chose ghosts.
“and as I was saying…—”
“Um, I’m going inside. Thanks..”
“Watch the dvd. You were meant to have it. I’m not saying you’re going to get cancer but it will apply to you or someone close to you I firmly believe in it–”
“Okay, thanks.” I shut the door and lock it immediately. Now I’m tucked into my hotel room, with the drapes drawn tightly freaked the fuck out wondering if the reason the drapes are swaying are because of the ghosts or the creepy dude trying to get into my room via the balcony door.
This is going to be an awesome* nights sleep.
the lovely balcony where I was just trying to enjoy my night