Sunday, June 26, 2005

Crucified in Puerto Vallarta

It was a beautiful evening in Puerto Vallarta, after a rainy day under the blue umbrellas of the beach. It seems that we had picked the same weekend to visit the Mexican Riviera as did a tropical depression and it was hot, humid and everything was dripping wet from every pore, limb and facade. By that night, though, the storm had moved off the coast and the stars peered out of a clear sky, cooler breezes prevailed and life became briefly pleasant.

Joe and I decided to go find a nice dinner and were walking along a promenade by the beach, along with many other tourists and locals out for a nice evening. In the center of town, we came upon a stage that was built in an open pit area and a large crowd was gathered watching a mime on stage. I was busy watching the people in the audience, watching Joe and hardly watching the mime, as I have a disdain for mimes. This one, in fact, started blowing a whistle very loudly and making motions to indicate that he was about to perform.

He jumped off the stage and grabbed a pretty young Mexican girl from the crowd and brought her up to join him on the stage. He then picked a handsome young Mexican boy and a Mexican man. Then he jumped into the crowd again and began to meander through the crowd in our general direction. I felt it coming before he ever made eye contact with me, so I turned away to avoid gaining his attention. It was a useless effort. I guess the part he was casting involved someone with a tank-top and upper arm tattoos or at least a part for whom those characteristics would accentuate some aspect of the show. He walked right up to me and pointed to me and blew his very loud and obnoxious whistle. I attempted to avoid the event, but soon the crowd was cheering me on and I had to go.

I ran toward the stage as I had seen all the others do and took a leap that was intended to allow me to vault up onto the stage from below. What I had failed to notice was that all the other people vaulted onto the left side of the stage and I approached from the right. The stage was built on a slant, I learned a few seconds later and the right end of the stage was significantly higher than the left end. When my hands hit the surface of the stage and I pushed off with my right foot, I almost smacked directly into the front of the stage like a drunkard running into a plate-glass window. Luckily, I had managed to get my hands just high enough onto the stage to pull my newly strained muscles and shaken bones up over the edge. I came, embarrassingly to rest on my knees where I was tempted to rest for a few minutes but for the risk of more humiliation in front of 500 Mexican tourists. I forced myself to my feet and made myself smile.

For the next few minutes, we all watched as it became apparent that this mime was casting a passion-play. The beautiful young girl, we learned was pregnant, as demonstrated by the international mime symbol made by his forming an oval from just below his nipples to right above his testicles. She was to hold her "pregnant" stomach with her hands folded under her "belly". If she took her hands one from the other, if only for a nanosecond, that freaking whistle would come blasting from the far corner of the stage to where she was standing until right in her face and until she returned her hand to the down and locked position of pregnancy. She was also instructed to make a face indicating sobbing. I could have helped her out with that part, but no one asked me to help. Let us now call this woman "Maria".

While "Maria" was practicing her "pregnancy", the nice looking Mexican boy was being taught his role. He was to carry a candle that he would "light" and then "carry" in front of "Maria" to light their way. Each failure to strike a match led to a barrage of whistle blowing torture. If he walked in front of "Maria" too quickly without holding his hand to shield the flame of the "candle", then the "flame" would "go out" and the whistle would start again. We shall call him "Josef" and maybe even "freaking idiot" as time will show..

The Mexican man and I were standing there watching in horror all that was happening and wondering what our fate held for us. We had "Maria" and "Josef"….what could be next? The mime grabbed the Mexican man and demonstrated in mime-speak that he was to be the parish priest who was to marry the young couple. He then grabbed another man from the crowd and had him hold a triangle to ring at the appropriate time, but this mime was really a stickler about how one held the instrument. The arms had to be held straight out in front in anticipation of hitting the notes at just the right moment.

Suddenly, my assignment was due! The mime came running over to me and blew that damn whistle in my face and held his arms out from his shoulders as if he were about to do arm rolls, only he didn’t move them. He then blew his whistle very loudly and took my hands and extended my flattened palms forward. With my arms and hands in place, he then placed me at the back of what I soon learned was the altar in a church. He mimed driving nails into my hands and then had me cross my feet so he could finish my public crucifixion in Puerto Vallarta.

When he left me standing there with my hands and arms extended and my legs crossed, I quickly learned that I despise mimes for any number of reasons. The first is that they are annoying. The second .is that they are annoying. The third is that they made my body hurt a whole lot and they would blow their freaking whistle into my ear if I tried in any way to let my arms relax.

For 45 minutes, I stood on a stage, craving my dinner which had been delayed , in the Puerto Vallarta night, being Jesus in a wedding that the others just couldn’t seem to get right. Each error meant hearing the whistle and starting all over. As he turned his back, I learned to let my arms down and try not to be caught by that bastard of an overseer who would whistle me down and then makes us all start over just because I was having a cramp. I HATED HIM.

Finally, Josef and Maria managed to get their candle lit and carried it all the way to the altar where they were blessed and declared husband and wife and allowed to leave. At that point, you can believe that this Jesus dropped his arms and ran to jump off the stage to go get dinner. Unfortunately, I forgot that I was still at the deep end of the stage and I almost shattered my knees upon hitting the ground. Grimacing in pain, I passed several elderly Mexican ladies who smiled at me as I cursed the profession of mimes and my involvement with them in anyway or manner.

º º º

Tonight, I attended a concert of Dave Koz and Friends at the BTI center in Raleigh with my friend J*. One of Dave’s friends turned out to be Jeffrey Osborne who had definitely drawn a large audience of people to see him perform. It had been years since I had heard his music, but as he performed, it started coming back to me. I was enjoying grooving to the music with this very diverse audience. Some were young, some middle aged, and many had hair of white. The crowd was probably in the majority African-American, and the house was rocking. Even the octogenarians were moving and grooving.

At one point, Jeffery sang his song "Can you Woo Woo Woo" and he headed down into the audience to find people to help him sing his song. I flashed back momentarily to Puerto Vallarta and hoped with intensity that he would find someone else to sing with him. He picked an African-American man who did a decent job with the song and then an African-American woman who would have been kicked out of the Apollo theater. Finally, they said that had to find at least one WHITE person who could woo woo woo….and thank goodness, a woman across the way stood up to represent. She wasn’t bad, but a bit too meek to be a performer. I didn’t care though, my visions of crucifixion passed and I was able to enjoy the rest of a very high energy, and entertaining concert that seemed to unite us all in enjoyment. Thanks to Dave Koz, Jeffrey Osborne, Marc Antoine, Pra-ful, and the rest of the band for a rocking fun evening.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Erin said...

Some people are born with the inherant gift of storytelling - you're definitely one of them!

I think I'll be sure to avoid mimes now as well. I can't imagine getting THAT part...

6/26/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Vickie said...

I'm sure you were a wonderful Jesus, but I'm even more sure that it was an experience you'd rather not have had. Thanks for sharing it with us.

6/26/2005 11:23:00 AM  

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