Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NEWS UPDATE! I Didn’t Attend A Sex Party This Weekend After All

When Brooke laid out the concept for the party we were attending this weekend, I was intrigued. The event, thrown by Miami’s contemporary art museum, featured three parts:

First, you arrive at a cocktail party held in the museum. There you receive an envelope containing an address, where you’ll be going for dinner. Apparently, ten wealthy art collectors had volunteered to open their homes (and their impressive art collections) to twenty or so random guests. (Think of it like a pot luck dinner, except you couldn’t afford to bring anything even if you wanted to.) After the dinner parties are over, everyone reconvenes at a club in South Beach to compare notes on what they stole from these people’s homes. Or talk about art. Whatever.

“So it’s a sex party,” I say to Brooke.

“It’s not a sex party,” she replies. “Just because we’re getting dressed up and going to some strangers mansion for dinner with a group of random people we’ve never met doesn’t mean it’s a sex party.”

“Actually, I think it does.”
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We arrive at the cocktail party fashionably late, having spent the previous few hours at a wine tasting event. (Note to readers: I’m fancy!) Already tipsy, we walk in and survey the crowd. Three facts jump out immediately: 1. We know no one here. 2. Everyone else knows everyone there. 3. The only other people there in our tax bracket are the waitresses, the bathroom attendants, and an old, shifty looking security guard who is keeping a rack of free magazines under constant surveillance.

Brooke: “I’m going to need to be drunk for this.”

We approach the bar and Brooke orders a vodka and soda. Even the bartender looks rich, and I’m pretty sure he is flirting with Brooke using only his eyes.

Bartender: “I don’t have soda. Only tonic.”
Brooke: “Fine, I’ll just have the vodka.”
Me: (internally) This is gonna be awesome.

A few minutes later, Brooke runs into the girl who invited us to the party. Earlier in the day, Brooke had reminded me that we would be meeting two girls, both of whom were named Valerie. “So it’ll be easy: They’re all named Valerie. If you can’t remember someone’s name, just call them Valerie. Valerie. Valerie. Valerie.”

“Hey, Vanessa!” she shouts as the girl approaches. (This embarrassing moment is sponsored by Vodka.)

The girl is wearing a cute, 1920’s style flapper hat. Brooke comments on how much she likes it and asks the girl where she got it.

“It’s vintage,” the girl replies.

“What?! Venice!?” Brooke screams over the music.

“No, vintage!” the girl repeats.

The conversation is so awkward that I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I come back to find the two of them standing in the same spot, except now Brooke has a mouth full of food, so no one is talking. Awesome.

I pull Brooke aside, telling Valerie that I have to borrow my girlfriend for a moment, and immediately Brooke thanks me. “I don’t know what happened,” she says while taking another swig of her vodka. “I think I complimented her hat like five times.”

We decide the best course of action is to stand off to the side, taking up a posture of cool nonchalance (i.e. like on “The Hills”), the only problem being neither of us really gets the concept, so we end up standing in a corner next to what I thought was a table for drinks, but turned out to be a waiter’s stand for clearing trays. Classy.

Brooke (clearly fed up with the situation) hands me her drink and goes off to the bathroom. So now I’m the weird guy standing next to the clearing tray with two drinks and no one to talk to. Except now the waiter has taken the tray, so all that’s left is some sort of makeshift table with a white table cloth draped over it. Feeling the need to at least look busy by checking my cell phone, I attempt to put Brooke’s drink down on the table, not realizing that there isn’t any sort of hard surface underneath the cloth – simply a glorified luggage rack. Not wanting others to catch on to my mistake, I place the heavy tumbler on the cloth anyway and the material promptly begins to sag, balancing the drink in an off-kilter pocket of cloth. I attempt to play it off as though I knew that would happen, even though doing so makes me look even more retarded, as every few minutes I have to check back in on the glass as it slowly sinks deeper and deeper into the fabric. It’s then that I get a text message from Brooke:

“I left. WILDCARD!”

(Of course she didn’t really leave, because if she had this post would be titled “And They’ll Never Find The Body, Either” and have a much more macabre tone. Still, classic Brooke moment there.)

Twenty minutes later, it’s almost time to head over to our second destination. As everyone is mingling near the exit, we run into Valerie again. Brooke proceeds to have a nearly verbatim version of the conversation she previously had with her.

Brooke: “I love your hat!”
Valerie: “Thanks. It’s vintage?”

I shoot Brooke a look that says, “Really? The hat again?” then throw my drink back and head for the door.

As we are leaving, a woman is standing near the magazine rack trying to convince the old, shifty security guard that the magazines are in fact free. She is showing him her driver’s license and a copy of the magazine’s masthead to prove that she is the publisher.

“See? That’s me. These magazines are free. For the guests.”

Unblinkingly, the security guard takes the magazine from her hand and puts it back on the shelf.
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The alter-ego I have chosen for the night (because obviously being myself amongst the hoi polloi isn’t an option) is a non-fiction writer specializing in urban youth. After sending out text messages to some people for suggestions, Brooke’s brother came back with the best: “You’re currently working on a book called Legit: The Urban Youth’s Struggle for Identity.” Personally, I preferred his other suggestion, Harrowing Home Invasions: The Unfathomable Crime, but Brooke thought it might be “too dark” for dinner conversation. (Though I still beg to differ: Who doesn’t love a good home invasion story?)

We also decide that we need an escape plan just in case the event turns out to be even more awkward than anticipated.

“Let’s say we have a kid, and the babysitter called with an emergency,” I suggest.

“We can’t do that,” Brooke retorts. “Vanessa knows I don’t have a kid.”

“You mean Valerie?”

“Whatever.”

“OK, then how about we’re babysitting someone else’s kid. And it called with an emergency.”

“Perfect.”

We roll into the gated Coral Gables community and pull up to the house listed on our invitation. Not only it is the biggest house on the block, it is the biggest house ever constructed. I feel like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air pulling up in our Honda Civic along side Range Rovers, Mercedes, and Porches. We spot a girl getting out of a Honda as well, and decide to befriend her. “Hi, I’m Stacy,” she says introducing herself. “I’ll be working the event tonight.” Figures.

Still, as Brooke and I approach the oversized front door, a sense of calm comes over us. “This is no big deal,” we say. “They’re just people and this is just another house and we’re going to go in there and have a few drinks just like we would do anywhere else. Piece of cake.”

As soon as we step through the door, I lose Brooke. The house is immense – perhaps bigger on the inside than on the outside. Apparently, I veered right (looking for a bathroom) and Brooke veered left (looking for the bar).

I approach a man who seems to know his way around to ask where the nearest bathroom is, but before I can open my mouth he yells, “Watch out behind you!” Not yet aware that there are works of art everywhere, apparently I’ve nearly backed into a sculpture. Not just any sculpture, though, but a cube of toothpicks held together by nothing more than the magic of art.

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In other words “if you bump into it, it will fall apart.” I make a joke about thinking it was for the hor d'oeuvres, and the man introduces himself as the owner of the home and directs me to the commode. (Awkwardness: 1. Flying Under The Radar: 0.)

While I am admiring the bathroom’s pillowed walls (seriously, they were like couch cushions) Brooke is pulling her best Lucille Ball impersonation out in the great room. After locating the bar, Brooke ordered some champagne, which was served in a pop-sized bottle with a straw.

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She then decides to buck up and mingle with the rest of the party. As she absentmindedly tours the great room admiring the art, her champagne bottle suddenly begins bubbling over. Desperately trying to suck up the overflow before it can spill on the floor, she rushes off, mouth over champagne bottle top, to a different bathroom just as I exit mine and begin looking for her. It’s “Laurel and Hardy Go to a Dinner Party.”

A few minutes later, Brooke finds me at the bar. “Where were you?” I ask.

“In the bathroom. My champagne bottle exploded. Check out this sculpture in the bathroom though.”

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Me: “You took pictures in the bathroom?”
Brooke: “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
Me: “So many reasons?”
Brooke: (blank stare)

Regrouping, we decide to join the other guests on a tour of the mansion’s many works of art. The sheer diversity of the pieces alone is enough to make your head spin. Their philosophy as collectors was that art can be made out of anything:

Styrofoam

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Wood

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Plaster

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Real babies

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Even water

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It’s not enough to admire a painting for its aesthetic quality, you have to wonder What the fuck? And to their credit, you do. You may say to yourself, “I could do that, but I would never think of doing that at least not without a big, fat Quaalude.” It got to the point where Brooke and I were paranoid that everything in the house was a work of art; no table was safe to put down your drink, no chair was safe to sit on. Even while I was in the ridiculously oversized bathroom, I thought, “What if I am peeing on a piece of art right now.”

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In the end, though, the night proved to be an enjoyable experience. We met a plastic surgeon (Brooke: “Like Nip/Tuck?” Him: “Ha! No.”), an art dealer who had recently married his estranged secretary who he first fell in love with 26 years ago, and an Israel guy who repeatedly brushed off his mega-hot girlfriend while talking with me and Brooke, presumably to hear more about my harrowing writing career (Him: “What do you write about?” Me: “Lots of stuff. Mostly social sciences. You know, urban youth.”)

Plus the problem of when it was polite to leave was solved for us when a drunk woman spilled her bottle of champagne on the pool table (OR IS IT ART?) and Brooke and I looked at each other like, That’s our cue, stopping only to shake the hosts’ hands and grab a few bags of homemade donut balls on the way out the door.

“Do you want to go to the afterparty?” Brooke asks as we get in the car.

“No, we should be getting home to our imaginary baby. Plus there’s still the sex party portion of the night.” (Wink.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Finally, A Reason To Learn Math!

I went to Catholic school my entire life. The nuns at my grade school were tough but fair – the way I imagine you have to be when you’re married to someone like God. And while they loved when you asked questions, they hated when you questioned anything. For example, my fifth grade math teacher would patiently answer any question I had about the difference between a fraction and a decimal, but the one time I ask why I need to know the difference between a fraction an a decimal she would get all up in my grill with her coffee breath saying things about being an intelligent child of God and tapping into the talent that God gave me, which always confused me because at the time I thought the talent God gave me was the ability to fight crime with my devastating karate moves.

If only Sister Dorothy had told me that one day being able to do simple math would get me laid, maybe I would have listened.

To wit (and much to the chagrin of late-night sexual predators and stupid people), Google has released a new Gmail feature called Mail Goggled. Users can program the optional add-on to activate itself during the hours when they are most likely drunk, e.g. Friday thru Sunday, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., or if you’re like me Sunday thru Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

When activated, a series of simple math problems pop up on the screen when you hit the “send” button. E-mailers must solve the equations in a limited amount of time in order to send their correspondence – the goal being to prevent drunk, drugged, or just plain dumb people from sending ill-advised late night emails quitting their job, telling off their ex, or responding to that kinky girl on Craigslist who “wants it in the back seat”, and by back seat she means her ass.

In theory, I totally agree with this. Many, many, many times I could have used such a censor when I stumbled into my apartment and thought that the best thing to do while eating my pizza would be to catch up on my correspondence, and if a series of math problems had popped up on my screen I probably would have thrown the computer out the window for fear that it had come alive and was attempting to communicate with me in a language I didn’t understand.

On the other hand, though, the mistakes you make when you drunkenly check your email are all part of the natural process of maturation. Who can say what kind of man I would be today if I had never drank that twelve-pack and broken up with that Russian gymnast in college via email while she was spending the summer in Spain? I may still be with her! And I may be a gymnast, too! And we may tour the world in the circus performing to sold out crowds as a husband and wife team who juggle each other on the backs of elephants parading around center ring. Which is terribly dangerous. My point is, sometimes you need to get drunk and send rash, unthoughtout emails full of incorrect and/or imaginary words, if for no other reason than you may get laid, and if you do it will probably be one of the scarier sexual encounters you’ve ever had, which, in the long run, will help shape you as a responsible adult.

Just like Catholic school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jesus Christ Venereal Disease*

If you haven’t heard about this movie yet, prepare to be spin-kicked in the face by glee.

Writer/director Mabrouk El Mechri (who has worked on a handful of other projects you’ve never heard of) just shattered the Pop Cultural Awareness Scale with J.C.V.D. – the fake story of the real Jean-Claude Van Damme . . . starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. (I’ll give you a second to clean up your brains off the floor.)

Mechri basically created a fictional story about Van Dam based on factual details of his life (fading career, money problems, legal issues) then went out and pitched it to Jean-Claude Van Damme who, in a not-unanticipated twist, needed the money. And while this meta reach around may seem like one big gimmick, just wait until you see the trailer.

Here is a list of three things I have been more excited about in my whole life than the release of this movie:

1. When I first got Nintendo.
2. The second time I had sex.
3. I can’t even think of a third.

I’m not ashamed to say that I love Jean-Claude Van Damme. When I was young, I would go through the weekly TV listings in the Sunday paper and plan which school days I would pretend to be sick in conjunction with what days Bloodsport would be playing on Cinemax. Some of my happiest memories are of me practicing karate moves in my pajamas and hurrying back under the covers on the couch when I heard my mom coming in the room to give me more medicine. I even saw Timecop. Twice.

And now I feel vindicated, like my arbitrary devotion to Jean-Claude Van Damme has been justified – all of it leading up to this moment when I will sit down to watch J.C.V.D. and not one single bit of irony will be wasted on me.

Oh, and it’s release date? November 7th. MY BIRTHDAY. Or as it will come to be known to future generations, The Most Ass-Kicking Birthday Ever.

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* Me: “We have to see J.C.V.D.”
Brooke: Jesus Christ Venereal Disease?”

(Pause)

Me: “No, the new Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.”
Brooke: “Oh. Well Jesus Christ Venereal Disease would make a good movie, too.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

John McCain Has a PTSD Whoopsy

JM: “Good men died that day. Steve from Plano, Malcolm from Montgomery, Darrel from Tuscaloosa. Best gunner I ever seen."

SP: “Don’tcha mean to talk about health care reform, senator?”

JM: “We were in the shit, Sarah! Gunning down rice patties. And that’s where we wanted to be.”

SP: “That’s right, you were mavericks!”

JM: (Snaps her neck.) “That was our code word for trouble.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Puppy Wins!

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First you stuffed the ballot box. Then you stuffed our hearts. Over 600,000 votes (approx.) later, the results are in: Puppy is PlumTV’s September Dog of the Month!

As you can tell from the photo in the article announcing his landslide victory, it has been a long, hard campaign. Paws were shaken; strategies were questioned; mistakes were made. Shadow was ahead in the polls, and something had to be done fast. We knew we couldn’t court the Joe Six-pack contingency – not with our liberal stance on neutering and same-sex humping. So we focused our energies on a message of change: Can we pick up poop wherever it may lie? Yes, we can. Can we make sure that every dog gets the flea and heartworm protection that they deserve? Yes, we can. Can we bring together dogs of any size and breed – big dogs and small dogs, shaggy dogs and wiener dogs, pure breeds and mutts – so they can all play at the same park together? Yes, we can.

And you, the public, agreed. Puppy couldn’t be happier. He has recorded this brief acceptance speech for his fans, and assures you all that he won’t shy away from his responsibilities of looking cute and sleeping the majority of the day.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Costa Rica Lesson #3: Jump Outside Your Comfort Zone (And Naked Into A Waterfall)

Here’s something they never told you on the “Care Bears”: Up in the clouds? It’s wet. Like, all the time. Nothing dries; everything is dampened with a cool humidity. But you never saw Tenderheart standing next to Wish Bear all set to launch a Care Bear stare like, “Holy shit, my crotch is moist! Where’s the powder? It’s like the Everglades down there.”

I’m not sure exactly how high up in the mountains the resort was, but if I had to guess I would say two miles. This is, of course, an absurd guess. But I am an absurd man. And hey, if you know off the top of your head how high up in the clouds we were in Costa Rica, then go ahead and correct me (Side note: Don’t correct me), but the fact remains that when the clouds rolled in, they rolled in our friggin windows. You’d be walking down the road and up ahead would be a big, billowing formation. And no, it wasn’t just fog. There was a clear demarcation between standing in cloud and standing outside cloud. And when you walked in, it was like being hugged by a friendly ghost.

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The downside, of course, is that clouds get everything wet. At first it was annoying, but eventually we got used to it, because that’s what Costa Rica does to you – it makes you accept nature in all its moist glory.

For example . . .

It started when Brooke decided that she wanted to go horseback riding. Horses, it seems, are a viable mode of transportation in small Costa Rican towns, which I personally think is fantastic. Having not ridden a horse since I was a kid at summer camp, I was skeptical at first. But as soon as I saddled up it just felt right.

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And just like when you drive a fuel-efficient sedan you scowl at SUVs, when you drive a horse you scowl at anything motorized. “My transportation is fucking ALIVE,” you think. Your horse decides to stop and bite a branch off a nearby tree. Refueling. It doesn’t get greener than this.

We met up with our guide named Cuca, who offered to take us down for a scenic ride along the beach. We had just come from the beach, so Brooke suggested we ride into the woods. We’d heard there were some beautiful waterfalls in the mountains. Unfortunately, Cuca spoke very little English so there was a lot of hand signals, butchered verb conjugation, and more wild gesturing from Brooke. Finally, though, Cuca seemed to catch on to what we were suggesting. Water. Falling. Pretty. Gringo. We smiled, mounted up, and Cuca led the way down the dirt road.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my horse thought trotting was for sissies. The slightest kick and he would accelerate into a gallop. Cuca would laugh, saying, “¡Le gusta correr!” Good to know.

Meanwhile, Brooke lagged behind, content to meander down the path, stopping every few minutes for her horse to graze. Cuca suggested she hit the horse’s rear with a stick, but Brooke insisted that the cornerstone of a good horse/rider relationship was trust. This philosophy proved equally troubling when it came time to cross the stream.

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Eventually, we made it to the end of a path where Cuca told us to dismount and tie up the horses. He then proceeded to unsheathe a machete from his saddle bag and motioned for us to follow him. Brooke and I exchange glances. I mean, Cuca seemed like a nice guy, but I don’t recall the guide book recommending zip lining, snorkeling, and following a machete-wielding native into the woods as part of the lovers’ getaway package.

But in Costa Rica, there’s a saying: Pura Vida. It translates to “Pure Life,” but means so much more. It is used as a greeting and as a farewell, as an exclamation, an excuse, an answer, and a philosophy. You’re moist? Perpetually lost? You poop out in the open? Pura Vida.

And this is exactly what Brooke said to me as we followed Cuca into the woods as he swung his machete. (Ed. note: If we were in a Chevy Chase film, the next scene would have been me and Brooke tied to boulders while indigenous tribe members danced around our bodies holding spears.)

A few minutes later, we came upon a clearing. There before us was a beautiful stream surrounded by large rocks on either side, pocked with white-water rapids and a cascading waterfall in the background. It was beautiful – peaceful, serene, truly an untouched natural enclave.

And then Cuca took off his pants.

Brooke: “I don’t think this is part of the tour.”

He must have noticed the slight shock on our face, so he motioned that now we would swim. Taking off everything except his underwear (briefs) and shirt (gentlemanly?) he jumped in the river.

Clearly Brooke and I had to think fast. What the hell were we supposed to do in this situation? Swim in our underwear with a complete stranger who took us and his machete to a secluded area where our screams would be drowned out by the cascading rush of water?

At least this would have been the important conversation Brooke and I had if she had not already taken off her shirt and jeans and jumped in the river, too. Problem solved, I suppose.

When you’re young and you dream about the day when you, your girlfriend, and a Latin American man who you just met will ride horses to a secluded mountain oasis, undress and take pictures of one another, it always seems awkward. But you know what? It’s not.

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me and Cuca

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We also played a ridiculously fun/dangerous game called “Don’t Get Swept Away In The Current And Crack Your Head Open on Those Rocks.” Cuca taught it to us. Basically, you let the current carry you down the river, and right before you get to the part where there’s a lot of rocks and white water, you swim as hard as you can to the shore and reach out for the stick that Cuca is holding so he can pull you to shore. It had the recklessness of the Russian clown course combined with indomitable forces of nature and the need to make split-decisions in a language you didn’t speak. In short, it was fucking awesome. (I’m thinking of having one of those t-shirts made. Like the “I saw boobs in New Orleans” shirt, except it would say “A man in his underwear saved me from drowning by pulling me to shore with a branch in Costa Rica.”)

After that, we all got dressed and rode back home without a hint of shame. And as my horse galloped wildly ahead of the pack, leaping over puddles with reckless abandon, and I heard Cuca’s booming laugh over my shoulder, I thought: Pura vida, indeed.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Costa Rica Lesson #2: Lust in Translation

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Our third day at the resort, we met a couple on their honeymoon. Let’s call them Corvette and Carrot*, because their real names are Castle and Garrit, which are just as ridiculous. Corvette and Carrot were from D.C. and had the look of young Republicans. By and large, these were the kind of people who stayed at our resort – not Republicans, but young couples in love.

And since this was an all-inclusive resort, every night we sat down to dinner surrounded by the same people. It became something of an awkward ritual: If you didn’t speak to a couple the first time you saw them, it was harder and harder to introduce yourself every subsequent encounter. (There was one couple we never introduced ourselves to the entire time we were there out of sheer mounting awkwardness. I’m convinced they still trash talk Brooke and I before bed.) But it’s a double-edged sword of discomfort because once you did introduce yourself, you had to go through all the pleasantries every time you saw them. “What did you do today? Oh, we did that yesterday. Isn’t the food delicious? I know, I ate both mine and Brooke’s dessert last night. I’m so bad sometimes!”

Plus, the resort was staffed by some of the nicest people I’ve ever met – literally tripping over themselves to accommodate and inform you. So of course they wanted to engage in pleasant conversation as much as possible. Although like with most relationships that aspire to an unusual level intimacy between strangers divided by cultural and linguistic divides, it sometimes got weird. Example:

a) The resort had two on-site massage therapists. Brooke and I had bought a package where we got a massage every single day, which, let me tell you, is the best. It’s like turndown service for your body. But the first two days we were there, there was only one masseuse available. The concierge explained the second therapist’s absence by saying, “Tatiana is sick right now. She’s on her period.” (gesturing to Brooke) “You know.”

b) Since the only available masseuse there was male, I got a massage from a man for the first time ever. And maybe Marco just so happened to have the hands of a big, Spanish teddy bear, or maybe it’s because he was foreign so it doesn’t count, but it wasn’t weird at all. That is, until the very end of the massage when he gently pat me on the head twice and whispered, “Good morning, mi amigo,” and I opened my eyes to see his face hovering over mine. (FULL DISCLOSURE: He did this every time he gave me a massage the entire time I was there, and by the third and fourth time I came to think it was adorable. But that first time? I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d smothered me with a massage pillow.)

c) Every morning we woke up to a loud howling noise coming from the surrounding mountains. It sounded like a cross between a hungry wolf and a broken-hearted Bigfoot. One day I asked Javier what the noise was. “It is called a Howler Monkey,” he said. “Have you ever seen one? He is all black with big white balls.” Bonus awkwardness when I didn’t understand him the first time and asked, “Big white what?”

But hands down, the most awkward moment came on our fifth day there. It rained the entire day, so Brooke and I stayed in the room drinking wine and reading. (Full Disclosure #2: We were also a little high on codeine. I had gone into the local farmacia to buy some medicine for a headache. The guy behind the counter didn’t speak a lick of English, so I mimed like my head was exploding and said “mal cabeza,” or “bad head”. He gave me some pills and I took two when I got back to the room. Turns out they’re like Costa Rican vicodin. Whoops!)

Anyway, we’re just hanging out in our room, which it should be mentioned has no windows. Because of the miracles of geography and climatology, the mountains where we were staying had high temperatures in the low 80s and lows in the mid 60s. Always. So the rooms (being designed with a get-back-in-touch-with-nature vibe) had no shades and only screen windows. All the rooms, however, face out off the side of the mountain cliff, so no one could see in your windows, unless they were hang gliding by or rappelling the rocky face – and if you’re going to that trouble just to see my junk while I’m showering, well you’ve earned it.

As we sat there a bit stoned (suddenly Brooke had a "headache" too) reading magazines, we suddenly hear a noise. At first we think it is an animal outside our window, but soon it is clear that that’s no animal – it is two humans going at it like animals. Two very vocal humans, their moans of pleasure echoing off the canyon walls like a PA system. Brooke and I run over to the screen to listen more closely. And then we hear it.

“Yes. Yes! Oh, Steve!”

Steve? we mouth to each other. We hadn’t met a Steve. A Carrot, sure – but no Steve. Intrigued, we listened for more clues. All we got though was more of the same: Steve, Steve, Steve. (Apparently she wasn’t that good or he couldn’t remember her name.)

The next morning at breakfast, we examined the couples around us, trying to find Steve. There was the one couple we hadn’t met yet: an unassuming husband and wife in their early 30’s. He could surely be a Steve, and she could easily be a closet sex-kitten. We call our waiter over.

Me: “Marvin,” (I always called our waiter by his name because Marvin just rolls off the tongue), “Marvin, I forgot the names of that couple over there. What are they again?”

Marvin: “That’s Katie and Mark.”

Me: “Damnit!”

The mystery would remain unsolved the entire time we were there. Brooke and I decided that it was probably the Asian-American girl and her Indian husband role playing. (It seemed to fit.) But it’s probably for the better, because the best part about the openly awkward, au natural feel of the resort was that after a few days there was nothing left to be embarrassed about. You walked around in your robe and undressed for your massage in an open cabana looking out over a mountain. No need to be ashamed, and no need for us to make the sex-happy honeymooners feel as though they had to hold anything back.

Especially because they had their own privacy issues to worry about. You see in keeping with the get-back-in-touch-with-nature vibe, all the rooms were designed with less of a private feel and more of a no-doors-on-the-bathroom feel. Seriously.

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Because there’s no better way to start your journey of eternal love than by listening to your spouse pee.

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* Brooke continued calling Castle Corvette the entire vacation. When I asked her how she got Corvette from Castle, she said, "They're both nouns. And luxury items."