Passengers silently applaud. I sleep like one who has been drugged (I’ve had a busy day!) and wake up like a bear coming out of hibernation.
Not Susan. She wakes like a double-shot expresso. makes a date with sushi guy, hoists her carry-on on her head like a sherpa and she’s off she goes, wiggling between bodies.
“Coming through. Woman in desperate need of coffee.”
“Never saw this woman before in my life,” I explain to no one in particular.
Stewardess doesn’t even care anymore. She has been self-medicating in the galley.
Since we are being met by no one, Susan decides to skip the Airport Shower, a technique she has perfected all over the world and one she will gladly demonstrate to anyone in the Restroom.
“10 minutes, a large zip lock bag with small shampoo–which doubles as body wash, 2 wet wash clothes (one for washing, one for rinsing,) one hand towel for drying, a toothbrush, some makeup and a change of clothes, stored in the top of your carry on…..Tatum–You are runway perfect, ready to be enfolded into the arms of your waiting beloved.” Who has now been waiting for hours. Washroom attendants in Mexico always applaud the transformation from hound dog to Top Dog!
But since this is a special occasion–our first trip to San Francisco, she declares it a holiday and we head for the fanciest sea food restaurant in the airport. I am so hungry, I can barely drag my backpack.. “Table by the window, garçon!”
I order the prima vera. She orders a salad.
“Be right back.” and she’s off again.
Just enough time for a quick smoke before dinner. Now to Susan a quick smoke is nothing more than stepping out to the sidewalk. No big deal. Does not matter to her, if she steps across borders to do so. As has been demonstrated in London, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Israel. Why would anybody take their passport or boarding pass just to have a cigarette??
My prima vera arrives. It is hot and spicy and the aroma drifts off the plate. I am drooling. But where is susan? My Mama taught me well; one waits for your dinner companion.
Cell phone rings. “O, would you mind bringing my passport to the security line?”
Mind? I have no Visa at this point. Trying very hard to keep the low profile. Custom official glares at me, “What?”
“Could you please give this passport to that funny little woman, who is jumping up and down in the back of the line?”
“Let me have it.” But ah, 10 strides and he is smiling as he gives it to Susan, almost bowing. She does bring out the gallant in strangers.
Back to the prima vera, which no longer wafts aroma and is looking a little green.
Cell phone: “Oh dear, now they want my boarding pass.” I slink up to the security gate, hoping for a different guard. No, Mr. Grumpy grabs the boarding pass and then delivers to Madam on a silver platter.
“Oh, thank you. You are so kind.” she purrs.
Prima Vera has now congealed into a pile of soggy pasta.
Back she comes. Ah, maybe there is hope, yet. BUT it is just a drive-by.
“Gotta get some postcards,’ she announces as she passes the table on her way to the bookstore.
I gnaw on a cold dinner roll.
“Isn’t this lovely. So romantic. Dinner in San Francisco. Here I got you a magnet of a cable car to remember this time together.”
Is Susan two? No. A two-year-old would be easier to control; perhaps a leash or a muzzle.
“Dessert?” she asks brightly.
No, this is a two-year-old who acts with all the authority of a world leader and the wit of a stand-up comedian. A cross between a pit-bull and I Love Lucy, with a shot of Southern Comfort to ease the discomfort.
And yet, and yet, adorable. Impossible not to love for she is an innocent. Flitting through life on her own terms and enjoying every moment and engaging, engaging, engaging everyone in this marvelous adventure. You have only two choices: get on-board or plant two feet firmly in the boredom of the ordinary. And having such a wonderful time, who wouldn’t want to join her?
And you don’t even have time to make that choice, because she is off again.
“Just need to recharge the cell phone. This nice young man (who would like to sell her a cell phone) is charmed into charging it for free.”
And oops, we’re late for the plane for Guadalajara. I pack my door-stop prima vera in a doggy bag.
As I recall, Susan does not cause an international incident on this flight. Too busy sorting out the number of children her newly-wed seat mates should have.
“I’ve never seen this woman before in my life!” I tell no one in particular.
However……as we are taking off, I receive a text from my good friend, D, who poor thing is all alone in Puerto Vallarta on his birthday and feeling blue. Oh, oh.
“Welcome to Guadalajara!” says the sign.
“Like it? Good. Now on the bus for Puerto Vallarta.”
She doesn’t skip a beat. She loves Mexican buses. The seats recline. She can use her sweater as a blanket and somewhere in her bag, she finds fuzzy bus-sox (a stable for all our future adventures). Now about that TV???
Susan has a preoccupation (later we will call her preoccupations a banana. I will explain later) with the TV. She HATES them. In her time, she has thrown three of them out a second story window.
“You must destroy them completely; otherwise they make it back into the house.
Out there, the Baby Beethoven s, the Baby Einstein’s, the Baby Picasso are being anesthetized by Sesame Street. It will never do. The future of the entire civilized world rests on her tossing TV’s out the window.
I change seats and watch three movies in a row.
She squirms, she throws her legs over over the vacant seat, she exercises in the aisle. And she adores the Mexican Bus Toilet, which is about the size of half a phone booth.
“So efficient. You can pee and wash your hands at the same time.” And now the Airport Shower is perfected and modified into the Bus Shower. And sure enough, she emerges from the bus looking runway perfect into the taxi, which whisks away to All-inclusive Wonderland Hotel.
Ahhhhhh, poor, unsuspecting D welcomes her with open arms (if he had only known that within the short time period of two weeks, she would turn his entire life upside down: he lose his job, get evicted from his apartment and his mother called in on an emergency GPS rescue. We’ll save the night in the Guadalajara Jail for later.)
But no, he knows none of this. So open arms it is. He can be double her charm, when he wants to.
His Mama, who truly has tracked him down via GPS, is sitting by the pool. Plop Susan by her (that should be safe enough. A Babysitter.) and bulldoze D to the bar to explain the situation.
She’s no problem at all. Give her three boxes of tissue and an Ipod and she will roam the beaches, sobbing for lost loves for three days.
“No problem? It’s my birthday! In Puerto Vallarta! Party Time??? with my mother and now a crazy gringa?”
“We’ll leave her with your mother, drug her with margaritas and slip away.” (Did I mention, Susan does not drink. This high of hers is a natural high. Also we quickly learn to feed her no sugar. High and hyper?? No way.)
Two sips into my Mai Tai and Mama comes running to the bar.
“Susan is in the pool.”
“So….it is a swimming pool.”
“With her clothes on?”
Apparently, the bus shower was not enough. She feels the need to refresh and with Mama sitting beside her, chatting away about this and that, she quietly slips into the pool.
All security guards now ring the pool. Damn she is a good swimmer. Every time one yells at her, she dives deep, only to surface to smile sweetly, “No habla espanol.”
Eventually she tires of this game and is gently escorted up the stairs of the pool like Esther Williams. Dripping wet is no problem for Susan.
“Don’t know what all the fuss is about. My bathing costume is way more modest than that fat cow in the bikini. Do we have time to go shopping before dinner?”
We get her a room.
And dinner, oh what a dinner. five course of the finest, plus, you guessed it—entertainment…
from the time she puts her elbow in the cream, we are off and running and the stories, the stories. Mama, who understand none of the words, is peeing in her pants she’s laughing so hard and no, the waiter doesn’t mind at all, mopping up the milk, and retrieving more from the bar. ….and, and, and into the night with the stars shining above Puerto Vallarta, the sea breezes so soft and Susan, Susan is in her element–right smack in the middle of chaos and bathing in it like it was champagne.
How not to love her? She is, after all, Susan.