Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
(But first, a bit of Shameless Self-Pimping)
Your 9th grade psychology text will tell you that we are all vastly different as people, but we process the world around us in similar ways. For example, we categorize our experiences in lists that run linear by topic: Who are your three favorite lovers?

Since this is a family column, we wont discuss that here.

But I can list the three things Im most proud of in one breath:

1. Never spending an unnecessary sober moment in my twenties. I dont mean I got drunk all day every day, but the fact remains that I was quite free- and had the resources- to live free. Rock-N-Roll is a cruel mistress, but she puts out in all the ways that count.

2. Getting married. I found a club that I wanted to join also took me as a member. Lightning strikes again!

3. The Big Wu Family Reunions. These shindigs epitomized the whole reality we so desperately wanted to live in: Happy people, great music, great musicians scraping their comfort zones and mixing it up with anyone, everywhere, etc. All we wanted was for the Family to have fun.

My twenties are gone, but my wife is here to stay. So it is with no small amount of good-natured pride that I am happy to announce Big Wu Family Reunion X !

Mind you, the budget isnt buying the Yonder Mountain String Band, but thats also the good news- Ive grown tired of $120 tickets and 129 bands on 80 stages (I can only watch one at a time.) But were going back to the original recipe with reasonable tickets, the best of bands that dont need $20,000, and having a great time with our Family.

Bands, dates, and everything else is a click away:

And now, South of the Border:

In my travels with The Big Wu, Ive made a few quick visits to Mexico, usually afternoon stops to a cantina/whorehouse to wet the whistle and eat pickled pig ears with Tabasco and lime, or hit la pharmacia for a dogs breakfast of uppers, downers, inside-outers, etc. Good times.

The last time we ventured into Tijuana, I ran interference at the return border crossing to distract customs from checking Jack the road manager for contraband. I casually stumbled up to the checkpoint wearing four oversized sombreros, one atop another, drunkenly chanting USA! USA! USA!

While the border cops were lecturing me on acting like a First World Fucktard in the Third World, Jack slipped through customs with nary a glance. Our Mexican pill pushers weren’t nearly as sloppy with opportunity: They took the credit card number and immediately ordered $900 in custom luggage. Old Man Visa was cranky about picking up that particular tab.

So when my lovely wife suggested we take our honeymoon in Mexico, I had to think twice: What country would accept such a pig, even to blow a few bucks greasing the local economy? Then I remembered that Mexico is the country without a memory- full of gringo jackasses to write off like bad debts. Besides, Im not going down to drink myself blind or make a spectacle of myself Im just going to have a few drinks and ummm

Did I mention that Mexico is the country with no memory?

The honeymoon itself had been a long time coming: We were married a short three-and-a-half years ago. But these things deserve careful consideration. Yachting in Greece? A driving and eating tour of Italys west coast? Hunting child pornographers in Thailand? Maybe something affordable

Mrs. Miller and I opted for an all-inclusive spa/resort south of Cancun, the kind where kids are never, ever allowed. Even if they keep some marriages together, kids are a prescription for sour grapes while consummating nuptials. After three years, there was quite a bit of consummating to be done.

Flights are flights and customs are customs, especially south of the border. The Mexican agents didnt seem to be even vaguely interested what I was bringing in. No surprise. Its their counterparts on the other side that get snoopy for no reason: Who would sneak shitty, seedy, brown, impotent Mexican weed back into Mexico when every college also-ran with a green thumb is growing the good goods within five miles of everyone north of the Rio Grande?

This xenophobic distinction popped up at almost every turn: It’s not just weed its Mexican weed! (Kind of like toothpaste- always good for your choppers, unless its Chinese toothpaste: Then, not so good.)

However, our first contact at airport wasnt the driver, it was a distinctively gay German man that wanted to sell us a timeshare. Although he was wearing more mascara than a $2 hooker on Nickel Night, I couldnt help but think this is what happens when the children of Nazis dont go back home. Lets just say the sales pitch was weak.

By the time we got to ridiculously extravagant El Dorado Maroma, I was a little thirsty. And trust me, nothing makes a parched soul drier than a dummy-go-lucky hostess forcing a tour of the weight room, aerobic studio, and other places that validate inappropriate effort and sweat while on vacation.

Luckily, the misery ended with me spotting one of several on-site bars. Muttering something such as Donde es el banjo?, I escaped long enough for new best friend Carlos The Bartender to offer Your first of MANY drinks Enjoy!

Enjoy I did. If you havent tried the 25 Pina Colada A Day Diet, youre missing out: Self-confidence grows, irritating commitments to attend yoga with the wife fades, and the sense of peace from knowing Carlos isnt going to run short on rum fills all the empty voids. This is especially true when the emptiest thing in your life is a cocktail glass.

And by all means, stick to the cocktails- the only beer they had was Tecate, which leaves one craving the smooth, satisfying finish of horse piss. Even though I was on vacation, I felt compelled to submit a resume to Tecates marketing department. Possible pitch slogans: Tecate: The Beer with the Punishing Taste or for Tecate Light: Just Dont

I didnt even need a Spanish/English dictionary to spot the typos on the can- the label threatens that Tecate is Sabor Completo (full flavored). It was just missing the suffix (-ly) and some kind of adjective to cover disgusting. The final, critical mistake was admitting Tacate is Hecho en Mexico or Made in Mexico

I would blame it on someone else.

After all, next to not drinking it, theres nothing else to do with it.

Not that the El Dorado didnt host activities a-plenty: Horseshoes, kayaking, snorkeling, cocktail making (Im not joking) and Latin dance topped off the fun roster. Besides yoga and weight lifting, there was something on the activity schedule called Walking Work. I have absolutely no idea what the hell thats supposed to be, but program directed prospective candidates to bring mosquito repellant and tennis shoes. I considered asking what this activity truly entailed from the safety of my hammock, but it seemed like too much work.

Speaking of, the folks that worked at the El Dorado had their duties cleanly split down gender lines. All the men were of the serious mustache mind: Thick, well-groomed patches adorned every mans face as long as they were on the senior side of sixteen. As it turned out, half of the gals were hired out of Brazil as eye candy (who else spends three years annual income to increase the girth of their keister?) Men made the drinks, women delivered them.

There was nothing noteworthy about this until I studied the rather confusing attire they had to wear. Their uniforms were a surprising, if not inappropriate mish-mash of costume party staples: The head security clown wore a stupid Love Boat Capt. Steubing shirt with a pith helmet. (For the record, he reminded one of a beach-bound Barney Fife. He was also a mouth-breather perhaps pulling double duty as a Venus Fly Trap.)

As for the gals, the El Dorados senior management saw to it that the Brazilians sported Bob Weir short-shorts, but forgot to teach them to bring drinks on the chop-chop after getting the fat tip. My wife ordered a smoothie, handed her a couple bucks and she disappeared for good. When I inquired about said missing smoothie, her manager said she might be confused, but offered hope: We all have to start somewhere. Nodding in approval, I noted she could start by fetching me another pitcher of vodka tonics (the manager, not the wayward waitress.)

It should be noted for the record that Mexico does have a minimum wage. (Because you know how that magic minimum wage is so important when the government boldly sets it at $5.00 a day.) Thus, I placed a premium on tipping, despite the run away smoothies. Personally, Im hoping someone spends it on a bullet to shoot the creeps that championed $5.00 a day wages. My dog could make more modeling for Korean lunchmeat companies.

A few days into living the pleasure known as clap yer hands for a carafe of breakfast screwdrivers; the invasion of the ever-expanding white asses took over. Out of nowhere, schools of old people showed up, exposing themselves with beach duds that dismissed any of the residual romance out of Grannies with Goats porn. No matter where I looked, some blue hair was nit picking over lunch Whats in that? Is it a Gordita? I dont like Taco Bell, it gives me gas Do you serve normal food? And so on.

If this wasnt bad enough, they seemed to always stand in my sunlight, casting vast shadows over me while displaying thighs that would shimmy and shake like a bowl full of flesh flavored Jell-O. Time to go see what tourists do elsewhere…

My wife picked out a roadside attraction, the Rio Secrato- a tour deep underground caves that sported more stalactites than thought imaginable. And yes, stalactites are the ones that hang down. Our tour guide told us the t in stalactites (as opposed to the m in stalagmites) stands for Tears of the Gods. He then showed us a few makeshift shrines where the Mayans sacrificed a few youngsters to appease the local deities. I bet the little scamps being gutted like carp didnt give a rip about Gods tears.

Engaging as spelunking is, I found myself enthusiastically interviewing our driver. First off, the van the tour company shuttled us around in was quite familiar: A 1999 Ford V-10 Econoline, the exact same vehicle the Big Wu logged a half-million miles in. Same color too. But the kicker was the driver, Alberto.

Alberto not only looks exactly like my old tour manager Wil Simon, but also wore the same shorts, sandals, haircut, shades, backpack, etc. The similarities were shocking, almost deja vu. And just like a ride in the Wu van, a cautious and vigilant eye was kept on the lookout for coppers.

Not that anybody was holding- I couldnt be bothered to leave my bartender long enough to pester some weed pusher in Playa Del Carmen. But like everything else, police checkpoints arent just regular checkpoints, theyre Mexican checkpoints.

Not unlike Mexican beer or Chinese toothpaste, the cops dont just keep an eye on traffic with their M-16s and Jeep-mounted .50 caliber lead spitters for fun, theyre out to cause more damage than they can explain. Turns out that the highway we were on is the only one to Belize, thus a paved cart path for anything and everything that can be smuggled.

One would think that a government so hell bent on busting drug and gun runners could figure out who is carrying 500 kilos of toot, and which one has overweight tourists from Columbus Ohio in tow. And one would be right. But the purveyors of party supplies pay better than the sheriffs office, so the cops make an incredible spectacle of themselves, skulking around in packs of twenty, decked out in black Kevlar and Sgt. Schultz helmets. Not to mention the dogs looked too skinny to menace anyone over nine years old.

Yet there they were, every three miles, sitting on logs, smoking (_Mexican!_) Marlboros, spitting on each others shoes. To be fair, the Keystone Kops of Cancun do manage to make some arrests. Alberto told me that his friend got busted with two joints, fined $500, even though weed goes for $50 an oz. (Remember, this isnt the carefully-grown, well-nurtured stink-o-matic bud youre used to, its you guessed it!)

Actually, its unfair to the cops to call the exchange of money a fine. Bribe is better fit. And the law apparently offers a hometown discount: Tourists can get the El Shafto for up to ten times the imaginary fine. I must have looked shocked because Alberto mentioned that you dont have to pay it, especially if you dont mind vacationing in a Mexican jail cell. (Not even Peter Graves in Airplane! would ask little Timmy about that)

Okay, enough is good enough: We all know that everybodys pretty much the same no matter how many ignorant and culturally skewed observations beg to differ. To be fair, heres an all-American self-depreciating joke I found on the web (I googled mexican jail jokes- it was the first one that popped up.)

Three women go down to Mexico one night, get drunk, and wake up in jail, only to find that they are to be executed in the morning, though none of them can remember what they did the night before.

The first one, a redhead, is strapped in the electric chair, and is asked if she has any last words. She says, I am from Grace University, and believe in the almighty power of God to intervene on the behalf of the innocent, They throw the switch and nothing happens.

They all immediately prostrate themselves; beg for her forgiveness, and release her.

The second one, a brunette, is strapped in and gives her last words, I am from the Creighton School of Law and I believe in the power of justice to intervene on the part of the innocent. They throw the switch and again, nothing happens.

Again, they all immediately prostrate themselves; beg for her forgiveness, and release her.

The last one, a blonde, is strapped in and says, Well, Im from the University of Alabama, Huntsville and just graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and Ill tell you right now, you aint going to electrocute nobody if you dont plug this thing in.

For those of you in the Wu / Particle crowds that know Wil Simon, let me present to you the Old Style Zealot of the month: Alberto The Driver! Even though I didnt have a can of Old Style for him to hold (and wouldnt dream of asking anyone but a Mexican cop to hold a Tecate) he qualifies in every other meaningful way- Hes funny, knows a thing or two, and would be a great guy to have one with. Amen!