Monday, March 17, 2008

Señor Baño and other adventures in research

I was at Sleuthfest the other weekend, serving on a panel with moderator Christine Kling (makes a mighty fine grog by the way) and we were chatting about all things water. Well the conversation came around to research and how us panel members go about it. My answer was I live it. And most of the time it goes pretty well. But not always.

See, I write about a fellow that lives in the Caribbean so on the surface it would seem like an idyllic situation for research. Well, it would be - if we weren't talking about me. It so happens that I tend to get into tight situations when I travel. Oh, don't worry. Nothing really life threatening or anything like that. Just "uncomfortable" situations really. Like having my passport stolen in Venezuela and trying to get to Caracas to replace said passport after the military had taken control of all transportation and had set up roadblocks every 10 kilometers.
Or when I was in Mexico and had my rental car towed from a "no parking zone" that just happened to be a hotel parking lot. But then Mexicans have a creative flair for language and it's application. But I got the car back without having to fork over my retirement funds - thanks to the quick intervention of a blonde with large breasts. Yes, it seems Mexican men prefer blonds too.

But my favorite among many is when a friend of mine was chased through the town of Valladoid Mexico by an angry father after catching him with his 14 year old daughter. Now wait, it's not what you think. Let me explain.

We were having dinner at a small "Loncheria" or makeshift cafe in the barios of Vallodoid. At the time we didn't have much money and we like to eat as local as we can anyway. But we also like to drink beer. And as the saying goes, you only rent beer. And nature always wants it rent. So my innocent friend asks the young girl working the counter if they had a bathroom - "baño" in Spanish. Well, public toilets are few and far between in this neighborhood so the helpful young lady takes my friend by the hand and leads him behind a neighboring building. Apparently, this is how it's done in Vallodoid Mexico. My friend, shy bladder and all, is able to pay his rent and walks out from behind the building, just minutes after the young lady emerges. He's still closing up, and as he looks up, there stands papa.

With death in his eyes.

Why is my friend coming out of the shadows, zipping up his fly, mere minutes after is daughter? Well our gringo Spanish didn't seem to satisfy him and he became increasingly mad and I will say, his Spanish cursing is much better than mine. But we had 20 years on him and even though we were full of black beans and rice we were able to out run the chivalrous father. From this day forward, my friend is known as "Señor Baño."

So you see, research can be an adventure - especially if you live it.


Mark Terry said...

Viva la bano!

Bill Cameron said...

Oh my. How, er, alaruming! And yet, for some reason, in my mind I'm hearing the Benny Hill music.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Since the book I just completed is about a serial killer, I'll just say "no thanks" to reality research.

But you sure made me laugh over my morning coffee. Thanks for the wonderful visualization. :)

Felicia Donovan said...

Mark, how interesting... I just read a blog in Spanish the other day from a father recounting the story of a vile American turista who tried to have his way with his innocent young daughter. He swore he would never forget...

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Great story, Mark. Living research is so much better than Googling. I was in China during the SARS outbreak. Served as inspiration for my first novel.

I love getting the the reaction from my doctor when I asked him, "If I wanted to start a viral epidemic, could I do it with the body fluids of and infected person?" You want to see some raising eyebrows!

Bill Cameron said...

That is awesome, Wilfred!