Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not Lost in Translation, Part II

As I stared at the wild scene in the pool, I began to think about bad, bad things. Things I wanted to do to this rude Frenchman (I’m calling him Claude) to inform him in a rather direct way that I wasn’t fully appreciating his approach to living with other people, especially while on vacation. If we can’t play nice on vacation, a supposed form of relaxing and unwinding, how do we act when we’re home? I don’t want to even think about it. Is everyone in France rude to each other? How does that work? Do the rudest people in the country run things, within some kind of rudeness caste system? If your father is rude, does that make you a legacy? Is boorishness passed on from generation to generation?
Sometimes it is inconvenient when other people want to share the planet and Claude was one of those individuals. As I studied him, I saw him piss off 2-3 other vacationers within 30 minutes. He obviously didn’t believe in other peoples’ personal space (in the U.S. we want at least three feet minimum, but in Japan, for instance, it’s more like a few centimeters) and when you combine cheap wine, Greek cigarettes and a lack of dental care, Claude’s death breath was offending everyone and everything—including flies and passing seagulls.
So, as I was brainstorming, and I instantly thought of Caddyshack, one of my favorite comedies ever produced, a farce about golf at a big country club and all of the juvenile activities surrounding it. It stars Bill Murray, Ted Knight, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield. In the film, there are several memorable scenes, including the now legendary one involving a candy bar being thrown into a swimming pool, which was based on a real-life incident at Brian Doyle-Murray's high school. (He is Bill Murray’s brother and a great actor/writer in his own right.)
So, after a few Coronas and a shot of the cheapest tequila Mexico will produce, I started contemplating my next move. Was I mad enough to do it? Would it work or simply be a waste of time? Well, who cares—I enjoy the challenge of pulling a prank and when it works it’s an adrenaline rush. The fun is in the planning. So, I decided, let’s do it—what the heck?
So, I recalled that one of my vacation companions was a chronic snacker. I had been to Hawaii, Acapulco and other destinations over the years with this guy, and every time before departure, he would go to Costco and bring a big gym bag filled with snacks on vacation—nuts, pretzels, chips, candy and importantly—candy bars. So, I went to our room and delved into his stash. Luckily, there were a selection of candy bars there, all my favorites, including Snickers, Milky Way and Almond Joy. The latter wouldn’t be very good to sculpt into a believable floating turd, because Almond Joy’s come in two little sections and I wanted something large so that my French friend would notice it. Snickers were my first choice, because the peanuts inside offer an added level of reality. But Milky Way’s are good too, because they contain that stuff in the middle, what do they call it? Nougat? So, I went with both.
I took one Snickers and one Milky Way and because it was warm in our hotel room, they were equally pliable. I morphed them together with the skill of a seasoned sculptor, and when I was done, voila! It looked like a large, bumpy turd and it was so believable, I was simultaneously pleased and disgusted.
So, I nestled the pseudo-poo in a large hotel towel and walked it over to pool side, just several feet from my snarky French victim. I dropped it into the pool and waited for the screams, but after 15 minutes nothing. I hopped into the shallow end and looked around under the water to find my piece of art, but then I realized there was one major flaw in that great scene in Caddyshack. Candy bars don’t float. Damn! I thought. All this work to pull off a master stunt, and now suddenly physics gets in the way.
But, I never give up. I will push a prank until it succeeds or fails, but once I’m committed, I will always follow it through to the end. So, I dove down and without anyone seeing me, I retrieved the fake deuce and nudged it right next to Claude. He was drunk and completely oblivious, still busy insulting people, chain smoking and berating the help.
Now, with my poop properly positioned, I moved to the other end of the pool waiting for any response. Still nothing, then I heard Claude scream like a little girl. Sounding like a very shocked and irritated mademoiselle.
“Hasch!” He yelled and no one moved.
“Merde!” he shrieked more frantically now. Still no one in the crowded pool bar even looked up.
“Salope!” Still no response.
Wow, I thought, Claude just came up with three words for human waste, all within milliseconds. Could he possibly be related to Roget, the inventor of the Thesaurus?
Suddenly Claude bellowed out the money word. “S--t! Sh--t! Sh--t!” And that got some instant attention.
It’s the universal word that means the same thing in any country in the world. Within moments, people were fleeing the pool bar and retreating to dry ground as quickly as humanly possible. Some of these folks hadn’t moved this fast in many years, I believe. Right away, people were pointing and kids started crying. It reminded me of another movie called Piranha, where families stampede each other trying to get away from the killer fish. This was not a killer fish, just a carefully molded combination of candy bars, but it caused a huge scene at the pool and as a result, vacationers wouldn’t jump into that same pool until the next day.
Claude spent the rest of his vacation in the ocean, still chain smoking and insulting the beach waiters, but at least he was no longer bothering folks in the pool. I spent the next three days lounging in the pool, having a good time drinking free cheap booze and interacting with people from friendlier countries.
The incident was the main topic around the hotel right up until the day we left. I never took credit for it, but walked away satisfied knowing that it was mission achieved. Did it knock Claude down a notch? Will he act nicer in the future? Probably not. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it may not happen ever. But, at least on that particular day, two candy bars and one crazy prank-obsessed idiot reenacting scenes from his favorite films taught one boorish Frenchman a lesson—kind of.