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Blame It on Fruit Brute

Blame It on Fruit Brute

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Published by Jim LaVigne
Short humor piece on two young men winning a rather restrictive trip to Mexico.
Short humor piece on two young men winning a rather restrictive trip to Mexico.

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Published by: Jim LaVigne on Oct 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/21/2012

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Blame It On Fruit BruteBy Jim LaVigneYeah, I blame Fruit Brute for the whole thing. It was his fault that I was in Cozumel in the first place, it was his faultthat Ricky Rockerman was such a jerk that he ended up bound and gagged in a dumpster, and, most of all, it’s FruitBrute’s fault that five innocent, fun-loving Americans wound up in a Mexican jail for assault. He may be just a has- been cartoon spokesperson for breakfast cereal and not even an actual person, but man, I really hate that guy.To be fair, it all started when I won this stupid vacation. My pal Ed and I were driving somewhere andlistening to, of all things, the Oldies station on the radio. Ed and I are friends because we’re so much alike, at least asfar as personality is concerned, but there the similarities end. While we’re both archetypical twenty-something lazystoners, he’s a small mountain at six-four and I’m a skinny little guy of five-eight. We get along great; neither of usworries and neither of us has an overabundance of ambition.Anyway, we’re in Ed’s car and we’re just listening to some crusty old favorite on the radio in that way youdo when it‘s Monday morning and you’re wishing you could get in a car wreck rather than go to work. Then theannouncer, a venerable local figure for the last twenty years named Ricky Rockerman comes on to announce acontest/giveaway. All-expenses paid week in Mexico, courtesy of KMPL, with Rockin’ Ricky himself! All you haveto do is be the twelfth caller with the correct answer to today’s Wacky World Trivia Question. “What is the name of the breakfast cereal, now discontinued, that was the companion to Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Booberry?”“Fruit Brute,” I said listlessly.“What?” Ed asked. “You know that?”“Sure,” I shrugged. “The werewolf-themed cereal. Guess they never did one for the mummy…”“Dude,” he said, “you should call in! Week in Mexico!”“Naw…”“Come on, man!” he said. “Mexico!”“Shit,” I said, getting out my phone, “why not?”After all, this was Minneapolis in January; we’d have taken a free trip to Kentucky. If only I’d known…Well, as you’ve probably guessed, I was the twelfth caller and I was right about Fruit Brute. And so it all started.I have to admit, things may have turned out differently if I hadn’t chosen Ed as the one to go along, but Icouldn’t exactly say no to him when we’d been in his car when I’d won the thing, now could I? Not that Ed’s not my best friend and not that I wouldn’t do anything for him, it’s just that, in situations like this, I know that thecombination of he and I can lead to trouble. But, as things were, it was never a question. Ed and I were off to sunnyCozumel.Excited and envied by our peers, Ed and I got packed and read all of the stuff that the travel agency whowas doing our All Expenses Paid Vacation sent us. I remember it was cold and snowing the day we left and we wereso glad to be leaving that we smoked a fat joint in celebration before calling a cab.The first whiff of real trouble was when we arrived at the airport (three hours early, as specified) was Mr.Ricky Rockerman himself. At first I thought he was one of the Lucky Winners. Having heard him all those years onthe radio, I thought maybe he’d look a little like Wolfman Jack or Johnny Fever, sort of cool and dissipated, maybe,who knows? But not this guy; this guy looked like an elementary school teacher gone sour and mean from a lifetimeof bitterness. Shaped sort of like a pear, he had a big ass, narrow shoulders, skinny arms, legs, and neck, and anoversized head. His face was kind of scrunched-up and tight, like it was trying to pull in on itself at the nose, andwas dominated by the pair of huge, 80’s-style glasses he was constantly adjusting. As for clothes, the guy was astudy in bad taste; plaid pants, ugly Hawaiian shirt, sandals with black socks… Overall, not the picture of Rockin’Ricky Rockerman that one might expect. More like someone out of a Far Side cartoon. I looked at Ed and he lookedat me. We both shrugged and went over to the little group clustered around our host.They were a mixed bag, our group. There was Mr. and Mrs. Kasterman, a nice older couple from NewJersey. Mrs. K reminded me a little of my mom; or at least what my mom might look like some day. There wasMilton Somebody (I never caught his last name), a 40-year old computer nerd/virgin from Florida, The simple factthat he was here alone, unable to find even one person to go on a Free Vacation with him, made us all kind of sad.There was Barb and her boyfriend, Steve, hayseeds from Oklahoma who, while unsophisticated, turned out to be pretty OK. Never seen apart, we generally referred to them as Barbandsteve. There was also Todd and Caitlin Neidelman, two of the most uptight, whitebread, straight-laced, God-fearing, narrow-minded people on the face of 
 
the planet. You know; assholes. I don’t know (or care) where they were from. Hell, Ed says. Of course, we didn’treally know all that about our fellow travelers right away, but it didn’t take too long for everyone to get to knoweach other.“All right, people, listen up!” Ricky called out. He had a nasty, nasally voice, totally unlike his on-air tone,that sounded like a fork scraped across a plate. “I’m Ricky Rockerman. Welcome to the Winter Getaway 2003. Thisis my eleventh one of these and we’re going to have a good, safe, fun time. All you need to do is listen to Ricky.Right? Right. Now, if everybody’s ready, let’s head over to gate 42C, just down the Red Concourse. If anyone needsto use the Rest Room, now would be a good time. All right, folks, let’s move.”Sheep-like, our fellow vacationers grabbed their carry-ons and set off in Ricky’s wake. I looked at Ed.“That’s Ricky Rockerman?” he said, echoing my thoughts. For some reason I’ve always had trouble with people that refer to themselves in the third person.“Aw, come on,” I said, “what did you expect? The dude’s like older than God…”“I ‘spose…”The flight down was fine and we made it to the hotel, the Hacienda, with no problems. It was when we werechecking out our room, a dim, smelly little place overlooking the parking lot, that the true down side of our accommodations became clear. Looking at the hotel brochures, Ed could find no sign of a bar anywhere in the place. Not a saloon, tavern, pub, grogshop, or boozer anywhere to be found. It was, to our dawning horror, what appearedto be a Dry Hotel.“What the hell?” Ed said bitterly, turning the brochure over and over. “Must be some kinda oversight…”He dialed the operator and asked about it. After a few grunts, he hung up in disgust.“No bar,” he said. “The heart of Tequila country and no bar. I can’t believe it…”“Hey, no big deal,” I said, feigning unconcern. “So what? So we go into town for beer and tequila and whathave you…”“Yeah, I guess…” he said. “But no swim-up bar? No margueritas by the pool? Man…”“Food’s still free…” I said. “And there’s a little thing out there called the Gulf of Mexico that I’ve heard is pretty cool…”“Yeah, you’re right,” he said, brightening. “Let’s go see the beach.”Looking around the hotel and grounds, we found nothing but more bad news; the pool was small and dirty,the restaurant was dingy, fly-blown, and stunk of fried grease, the gift shop was pathetic and, worst of all, the beachwas a stinky, fish-strewn mess. While we were standing there, staring at the rotting carcasses and seaweed and theswarms of gorging seagulls, a workman, a local guy, came along, listlessly picking up cigarette butts with a nail on astick. Ed hailed the man, a kindly, older guy, and asked him what was up with the beach.“Red tide,” said the man. “Kill all the fish. No good for swimming.”“Red tide?” I asked. “What the hell is that?”The old man shrugged. “Who knows?” And, holding his nose, moved off down the beach.“Well that’s just great,” said Ed dejectedly. “No booze, crappy food, and now no beach. Fucking RedTide… Free or not, this does not look good.”“Now, now,” I said hopefully, “there’s more to Cozumel than this place, right? I mean, we drove through awhole city on the way here…”“Yeah…” he said glumly and kicked a bloated pufferfish. “I guess…”“You’ll see…”But Ed had been right to be worried. After a brief reconnaissance, we found that not only were we ten milesfrom the city (on the other side of the island), there were no rentable vehicles with which to get there anyway. Onlythe shuttle bus, which ran three times a day, at 8:00 AM, noon, and 6:00 pm, could deliver us from the Hacienda.“I don’t believe this!” Ed fumed as we sat dejectedly in the lobby. “What is this place, anyway, a damnconcentration camp?”“Don’t think so,” I said. “They didn’t have palm trees and ocean views.”“Man…”“Hey, look,” I said. “I been thinking. Maybe we could just like, desert from the group, know what I mean?Like defect or whatever… Go off on our own.”“That might work,” he said hopefully. “So what do we do? Just take off?”“I think,” I said, “that we better talk to Rockin’ Ricky first. See what he says…”“Well, let’s go find his wide ass.”
 
We found the whole rest of the group down next to the stinking beach, engaged in some sort of game— charades, maybe—under the stern direction of Rockin’ Ricky. It didn’t look like anyone was having much funexcept for maybe the Niedelmans, who, as we were to find out, always did everything very enthusiastically. Not thatthey had fun doing things. On the contrary; they never seemed to really enjoy anything. But you had to give it to‘em. They were always very, very enthusiastic.Ricky spotted us walking up. “There you are. You’re late for game time.” Like we’d really done itsomehow…“Uh, yeah…” I said. “It’s just that… Well, we’re not really fun-and-games, arts-and-crafts kinda guys, youknow?”“I see…” Ricky said frostily.“Yeah, well,” I went on, “the thing is Mr. Rockerman, sir, that we uh… Me and Ed here that is… We werekinda thinkin’ of, well, kinda… leaving. Actually.”“Leaving?” Ricky said, his eyes huge behind the out-sized glasses. “Did you say you wanted to leave?”“Hey,” I said, flailing, “it’s not like this place isn’t… great or that we don’t like you guys or anything. It’s just we feel like we could use a little more… excitement. Like maybe we’d… fit in better in town. See what Imean?”“No I do not,” Ricky said crossly. He put his arms akimbo and stared at us. “You young men are here bythe good graces of KMPL radio. The station is paying for your airfare, your accommodations, and your food. But Iguess that just isn’t enough for the likes of you, is it? So now you want to leave. Well let me tell you this, youngman. If you and your friend here do leave the group, I will cancel your return flight. Since it will be your choice toturn up your noses at the station’s generosity, you can find your own way back to the States.”“But…” I said uselessly.“But…” Ed said uselessly.“But nothing,” Ricky said. “Plenty of people would love to be on this vacation with Rockin’ Ricky. If it’snot to your taste, well I’m afraid that’s just too bad. Now, while Rockin’ Ricky will not force you to join the others,he will tell you this: If you leave, you are not coming back.”Through this exchange the others had been watching. Now they all looked away, embarrassed, except for the Niedelmans, who just kind of smirked. Ed and I, utterly at a loss and shaking our heads, walked away, back toour room. Given no choice, we had to cave in. Rockin’ Ricky had us by the balls, so to speak, and we were trapped.In the room we sat in the dark and mumbled to ourselves for a while, cursing this turn of events and anyonewho referred to themselves in the third person. I was bitter, but Ed, irrepressible as always, sat up suddenly andthumped one meaty fist into his palm.“Damn it!” he said angrily. “We’re not gonna let this happen. We gotta fight this bastard.”“So it’s war, then,” I said dramatically, smiling.“It’s war.”That night the first shots of our hostilities were fired. At about 9:00 PM, when the others were off in the TVroom watching some God-awful Mexican game show, Ed and I went over the wall. Actually it was just a fence, butthere was symbolic meaning all the same. After a brief walk we were picked up by three college kids from Iowa whodrove us right into town. Here we found all we were after; bars, discos, restaurants, shops, you name it. Lots of  people (especially girls) our age, lots of decoration and lights and tropical charm.“Now this is more like it!” Ed said, looking around.“Indeed,” I said, grinning. “Shall we?”“After you…”Twenty minutes later we were elbow-deep in food, drink, and revelry. From bar to tavern to disco and back to the bar, we made the rounds and then settled in at our favorite, a multi-level place with both dancing and barswhich also happened to have the best-looking girls, generally speaking.We drank, we ate, we danced. We made friends and Ed got this smokin’ blonde’s number at her hotel. Itwas pretty sweet. The latter part of the evening gets pretty hazy, to be honest; I recall some upside down tequilashooters and then? Like I said, a little blurry.The next thing I remember, we were back at the Hacienda. It was dark and quiet and we were riding beat-up mopeds that we’d gotten from somewhere in town that I’m pretty sure wasn’t a rental agency. With a minimumof staggering and noise-making, we managed to crawl back over the fence and get up to our room with no onenoticing, leaving the mopeds for whoever wanted them. Exhausted and drunk, we fell asleep in minutes.

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