Now I don’t know much about “acid flashback” (unless acid reflux counts), but I do have a working knowledge of “tequila flashback”. Yes this past Tuesday night, on Cinco de Mayo, while the rest of the country was busy trying to be Mexican… dancing to the strains of Mariachi gaiety sucking down agave extract in all its concoctions… your friendly bartender was quivering in a corner locked in deadly combat with tequila demons past. (All right, I exaggerated a little so let me rephrase that.) Your friendly bartender was sitting at the bar, sipping his Jack Daniels rocks, cringing while recalling his first trip south of the border. There, that’s better!
Time: May 5th, in the year of our Lord… nineteen a whole long time ago.
Place: Ensenada, Mexico.
“I’ll have a double margarita,” I said, after my buddy had wisely ordered a Dos Equis beer. This friend was a native Californian, an older colleague from work, and wise (to be sure) as to all things Mexican and Mexico. I on the other hand was six months from Pittsburgh and as savvy in these parts as George W. Bush in a library. But we’d just arrived the night before, had partied til damn near dawn, and as P.G. Wodehouse would put it, “I needed a restorative!”
“Doble?” inquired the waiter, suspiciously clarifying my order, acting like I’d asked for a Pink Squirrel. “Yeah, I mean si, si,” I replied in an admirable Spanish accent, “I-would-like-a-doble-mah-gah-lita!!!”
What the hell’s the big deal? I thought, as I winked at my friend in full asshole bravado. Why I’d done tons of double margaritas back home, at the local El Torito in L.A., where you had to order a double to cut through the slush. Hell yes, I wanted a freaking double!
“Doble?” I now heard the bartender repeat, his eyebrows rather high on his forehead, making sure he’d gotten the order right. (Warning #2) Of course looking back I should’ve taken heed as to what they were trying to convey, but obviously then this was totally out of the question. I was a wild and crazy young gringo in this wild and crazy old Mexico, hell bent on providing the fodder for Porky’s III.
“Do you believe this shit?” I said to my friend. “Why are they making such a big deal out of this? You’ve seen me do doubles before, right? This is child’s play!” My friend just smiled a knowing smile that triggered a glint in his eye, like he’d just tossed a wet banana peel onto the sidewalk. And he slyly sipped his beer which had already arrived.
Fifteen minutes later when it was time to order again, we went through the same damn ritual only this time there was an added twist to the script. This time the bartender directed his “Doble?” at me. As he held the bottle poised above the tumbler about to drop that second shot into the mixture, he shouted across the room, “Doble, Senor?”
“Si, doble,” I shouted back, now getting a little annoyed at this questioning of my manhood. To which the bartender responded with a low “Eee-hah!” as he poured it. Then fifteen minutes after that, about two thirds of the way through my second double, a single appeared in front of me which I hadn’t ordered. It was one of those “compliments of the chef” kind of gestures but in this case issued by a bartender… a bartender obviously impressed at my handling his worm juice. So I held up the remains of the double and toasted him “thanks!”.
“Do you believe this shit?” I said once again, wondering now why my friend’s eyes were also widening. Is it me or is this whole fucking room going fucking nuts? “What the hell’s with you,” I then asked, “you look like you’ve just seen a ghost.” “What the hell’s with you?” he replied, “do you realize that shit is pouring straight down your chin?” Holy shit it was! My jersey was soaked and my jaw was frozen as if I had just taken Novocain straight to the bone. And it all had happened so fast, dear reader, that I honestly felt as though someone had simply walked up behind me and smacked me in the head with a plank. My brain was working but the motor skills no longer knew me. “Eee-hah” indeed!
“Got to get the hell out of here,” I said, in what I’m sure sounded Sino-Balkan, mixed with a Swedish lilt that hinted Taiwanese. “I need air!” And as I struggled to my feet to head for the door of this dimly lit room, several sets of white teeth were glowing in the haze… teeth whose baring gleefully announced, “Say goodnight, Gracie!” And it was only fucking ten o’clock in the morning.
Fortunately and amazingly, right next door was a diner which boasted cheeseburgers on its window menu so I stumbled in, (like a marionette sans strings), and somehow managed to order three of those beauties. And when minutes later my friend had arrived to check on my shaky progress, he was shocked to see that a crowd had formed due solely to the fact I was then on my seventh cheeseburger. That’s right my seventh. Now they weren’t those double whoppers I was downing but they weren’t little sliders either, just regular-size single glorious cheeseburgers. And they did the trick. For at the end of the seventh burger I had managed to eat myself sober and the world here south of the border again made sense. Yes in the span of an hour I’d covered the gamut from hangover to smashed to reasonable, and I’d also elicited an applause when I left the diner. Some morning, eh, reader? Now on to Porky’s III and let’s not get arrested!
PS: Now I’m not recommending seven cheeseburgers the next time you’re loaded. Four or five oughta do it.
Over and out from Bar-land, see ya’ next week-end!