Sunday, September 16, 2007

Playa Mafia 3: Hellgas’s Finest Hour

Playa Mafia 2
Playa Mafia 1

Five or six days into our stay at La Iguanita, Sven asks us “So, you guys have been here, what, three weeks?” G-man and I choose to take this as a compliment. I guess we do have a knack for becoming watering hole regulars. Even Hellga treats us as such.

Having learned how to read Her Ladyship’s ever-fluctuating Moodometer, I now know when to avoid her and when to sit back and enjoy her life-of-the-party ways.

Tonight she’s particularly got her charm on, dazzling locals and visitors alike with her pearly, for the moment non-psychotic smile and her quick wit. Apparently oblivious to the notion that she’d hated my guts a mere few days prior, she now addresses me like I’m a fun new pal.

Sven regales us with an account of the time he and Hellga attended a Rolling Stones concert with only 998 other people. It had been a VIP sort of show, and the band played old blues and other classics. Sven raves, whereas Hellga’s take on the event can perhaps be best described with a shrug and a “meh.”

We’re seated at the big round table drinking with “the Mafia”, a few of whom start to head home from about 7:30 onward. As usual, New York Pete is the first to leave; as usual, the others try to tease out of him who he’s off to see. Some hopelessly smitten young thing from Nebraska, I imagine. One of the bartenders, Carmen, can’t seem to help turning roja whenever she’s near Pete. Poor thing! For his part, Pete could do a whole lot worse, IMHO – Carmen’s a very sweet girl and a major hottie. Plus she knows how to pour a Margarita.

Later-ish in the evening; we return from having some Thai food (go figure) across the street and settle in with the gang once more. The table is festive, and remarkably, Hellga still looks happy.

Her seat and mine both face the sidewalk and street beyond, so we both notice when a 60-something gentleman rolls up to the bar entrance in his wheelchair. Hellga jumps up, runs to the man’s side and proclaims, at considerable volume, “No, no, no, no! You’re not coming in here!”

For a millisecond I’m horrified, but I quickly (well, quickly in an after-4-Dos-Equis sort of way) relax when the two of them laugh heartily. Whew, it’s all good – they’re friends. Indeed, Hellga wheels the guy over next to me and introduces us with utmost affability.

Jim, it turns out, is a retiree from Minneapolis (if memory serves), now Living The Dream in one of the many places so prolifically labeled Paradise. I don’t know what sort of physical/physiological/neurological/whatever condition Jim has, but it renders his speech garbled, slow, and rather difficult for a tipsy dame in a loud bar to understand. I do my best though, without getting too much and too literally in the man’s face.

Hellga appears amused by our laboured efforts to communicate and decides to join in on the fun. She graces me with a mischievous, conspiratorial grin and says “Watch this!” just before she leans in towards Jim. She asks him something; I forget what exactly, but it’s something requiring a lengthy reply. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Tell us about that marlin your brother caught. How big was that thing, anyway?”

As Jim begins to answer (“Thaaaaaaaaat… ffffiiiiiishhh… waaas sooooh bbbiiiiggg…”), Hellga winks at me, and, as my jaw does everything in its recently broken (I’ll tell ya another time) power to keep from dropping to the floor, SHE PROCEEDS TO MIMICK A DISABLED MAN in front of my bleary red eyes. She’s making little fish-speak shapes with her mouth, puckery O’s. Slowly and with considerable showmanship, she flings Jim’s words back at him.

I’m momentarily hypnotized. It’s like witnessing a train wreck – unbelievably horrible, yet I can’t look away. Jim appears saddened, but not shocked. He stops speaking. Around us, people are engaged in their own conversations, so no one else has seen or heard the debacle.

“Aw, Jim!” Hellga laughs. “You are so fucked up, man! How fucked up is Jim?”

And it’s this poetic little gem that snaps me out of my catatonic state and provides me with the perfect opening to maybe help salvage what’s left of Jim’s morale and pride.

“Well, Jim,” I pipe up a mite too jovially, “if by ‘fucked up’ Hellga means ‘having had too much to drink’, then you’re in good company, because I’m pretty damn fucked up myself.” Jim smiles and we clink glasses.

It takes a minute, but eventually Hellga’s penny drops and she’s cognizant of the fact that I’ve yet again broken her cardinal, if unspoken, rule: I’ve shown sympathy for someone she’s abused. ¡A ella no le gusta eso!

As she gives me the stink eye, I can see her struggling for a well-worded reprimand to hurl at me, but the best she can come up with – and this I remember clear as day – is “And who are you to say whatever?” Instinctively I know how to work it without turning the situation into something uglier than it already is.

I play dumb.

“Hmm, dunno what it is I said, but who am I? I’m no one, really, and if there’s one thing you should know about me by now, it’s that I AM UTTERLY FULL OF SHIT.” Cue innocent little smile.

Satisfied with my self-deprecatory and agreeably stupid response, Hellga gives Jim and me a slightly uneasy smile and whooshes off to the bar.

Me, I introduce Jim to G-man. The three of us chat for a while, and then I excuse myself to retire somewhat early. I am, after all, pretty fucked up. ;-)


LM said...

Bwaaaaaah!!!! I'm still trying to picture it! What manner of inhuman ogre mimics someone with a speech impediment in a Wheelchair no less! Unbefuckinglevaible.

That would be kinda like silently mocking a blind person whilst sticking a "spare change?" note on their fresh coffee cup.

Anonymous said...

that really is unreal... special place in satan's microwave for such people

Papillon said...

Hellga would make Satan cry.