Plonk 18: The Soggy Peso

By Dave Carnie

We visited Isla Mujeres after the election because we figured we should probably take one last trip to our favorite vacation destination before that ding-dong walls us in and declares war on Mexico. One of the bars we like to visit on the sleepy little island is a dive called The Soggy Peso. We learned about it because senior citizens love the place and they can’t stop saying the name over and over again: We went to The Soggy Peso last night. It’s called The Soggy Peso? Yeahhh! Isn’t that hilarious: it’s a peso, but it’s soggy! HAHA! Soggy Peso!

Fucking old people. They get a real kick out of it.

But there’s good reason to like The Soggy Peso. The crew that works there is cool and friendly, they make strong drinks and good food, the locals are generally of the old-salty-dog variety because every one of them seems to own a boat, and you can’t beat the view of the water. It’s a great little bar. But it took more than one visit for Tania and I to arrive at that opinion because the first time was just dumb.

It was nice and quiet, the sun was setting, and we were sucking on margaritas when some lady stood up and demanded the attention of the entire bar. She announced her friend was in a band in Baton Rouge and that she was a “star.”

“YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A STAR!” she bellowed, motioning to a husky, middle-aged woman sitting beside her.

The “star” feigned shyness for a moment, but two seconds later, and without anyone requesting it, she was in the middle of Janice Joplin’s “Bobby McGee.” She just busted into the song a cappella while sitting in her seat. (I learned at that moment that singing, like cooking, seems weird when it’s done sitting down.) Nothing like being forced to listen to other people’s music, whether you like it or not. “This is my favorite song! And now it’s your favorite song too!”

The star from Baton Rouge wasn’t bad, but she wasn’t good either. We had plenty of time to form an opinion about her talent because she sang the whole song. She even sang the parts where Joplin just goes, “La l-la l-la l-la na na, la l-la l-la l-la!” I didn’t realize that’s at least half of the song. The bartender recorded the performance on his phone and promised to play it on the stereo later.

“Can’t wait,” Tania said.

Janice Joplin was nothing compared to the dipshits that sat down next to us, though. There were three of them: one dude, and two chicks. The dude sold boats in Virginia. At first he made it sound like he was a big wheeler and dealer in the boat industry, but after listening to him for a while, it became apparent that he was just an employee of a boat broker or something. He was nothing more than a used car salesman, but he tried to sound like the kingpin of the nautical world. Whatever he did, it involved boats because he would not stop talking about boats, boats, and more boats. Tania wanted to kill him. And his girlfriend. And the bimbo they befriended five days before. Because they were all being bad. They were bad at getting drunk and they were really extra bad at whatever was going on in their relationship.

We gathered—and it wasn’t hard to gather anything from them because everything they said was loud enough for people in Japan to hear—that the boat dealer had come to Isla Mujeres with his girlfriend, but at some point during their vacation they had befriended this other bimbo who became a part of their family. The girlfriend then found herself in competition for her boyfriend’s affection.

The two girls were about the same age and looked very similar. They were both blonde and bore that pudgy, pasty, potato-headed look so common among white women on the East Coast. The difference was that the boat dealer’s girlfriend had already stepped onto the path to motherhood, while the new girl was still in slutty party mode. And it was sadly obvious that the boat dealer had fallen for the latter’s siren song.

Her song, incidentally, was sung in “sexy baby voice.” She was really slutting it up at the bar and she had her sexy baby voice turned up to 11. Evwy sing she said sounded wike it came fwum a cube widow baby. So that’s what I named her: Cube Widow Baby.

“Oh my fucking god,” Tania said through gritted teeth, “Every girl can do that voice, but nobody really talks like that.”

Tania hates sexy baby voice. She argues that, not only is sexy baby voice irritating and demeaning, but it reveals a pretty fucked up constitution in any man who allows himself to be manipulated by it. What kind of a creep is turned on by baby talk?

The boat dealer, apparently, because he was enthralled with everything that came out of the Cube Widow Baby’s mouth. I felt sorry for his girlfriend, but at the same time I was glad she was getting to see what an idiot the mate she had chosen was now rather than years later when he wrecks their family.

“We’re, like, looking for new talents?” the outgoing Cube Widow Baby said to the strangers next to her. Everything Cube Widow Baby said ended with a question mark. “Rally?” “Do you have an unusual talent? We’re on, like, a mission? Like, chuh?”

They were very proud of themselves that they had created this mission. They fancied themselves a little wild, a little crazy. “My friends think I’m so WEIRD!” There was, however, no one at The Soggy Peso with an unusual talent. I’m sure there was plenty of talent, but no one was volunteering any information because it seemed to be universally agreed that these three kids were idiots and their stupid mission was interfering with the real mission of getting drunk. After polling everyone in their immediate vicinity for unusual talents and coming up empty, they reluctantly agreed that the lady who sang “Bobby McGee” counted as an unusual talent. Counted towards what, I’m not sure, but they congratulated themselves all the same.

Then, mission accomplished, they decided to invent a tradition, a tradition they loudly proclaimed themselves the origin of. Which is kind of the antithesis of a tradition, isn’t it? Doesn’t Time decide what is tradition and what isn’t? To immortalize oneself in such a way is simply obnoxious. But they were very eager to be remembered as the inventors of a drink at The Soggy Peso. They were desperate for memories.

First, they did not invent the stupid drink they forced the bartender to make. I accidentally had one in Tijuana in 1987. Mark Waters ordered me a “Tequila Villa” at some sketchy bar. I had no idea what it was, but okay, sure, gimme a Tequila Villa. A few minutes later two waiters arrived and asked, “Who has the Tequila Villa?” Everyone pointed at me. They grabbed my head from behind, pulled it back so I was looking at the ceiling, opened my mouth, dumped tequila and lime juice in, then violently shook my head and yelled, “TEQUILA VILLA!”

“Nice one, Mark,” I said below the laughter. “Thanks a lot. ‘Preciate it.”

That’s the stupid frat boy, spring break drink these three idiots wanted. Voluntarily. So they all spun around and leaned back on the bar so they were looking up at the baseball hats hanging from the thatched hut ceiling. The boat dealer explained what to do to the embarrassed bartender.

“You pour that, and that… IN OUR MOUTHS!” he said.

And so the bartender poured that and that into their stupid mouths. The three of them swallowed their medicine and then pretended like they had never had a drink before and that what they just did was the most amazing thing in the world ever.

“Woooo!” squealed Cube Widow Baby.

“I think it’s safe to say we just invented a new tradition here at The Soggy Peso,” the boat dealer said to one of the locals. “Is that cool? Can I say we invented a new tradition?”

Sure buddy. A tradition is born. You’re immortal.

And then, as if on cue, Bobby McGee came over the speakers again.

“You know, feelin' good was good enough for me,” the star from Baton Rouge sang, “Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee. La l-la l-la l-la na na, la l-la l-la l-la!”