I've always had a thing for Latin men. My curiosity about this particular species led me to take a job in a now defunct Mexican restaurant in a posh Toronto neighbourhood. That's where I encountered Ricardo. I'd been alerted about the cute dishwasher and instantly agreed with my informer. Immediately taken with him, I was disappointed mid-pickup when he revealed he was gay.
A friendship ensued that lasted through his sojourn in Canada and into the Latin-man surround-sound and technicolour of the sultry Gulf town of Veracruz.
My introduction to the men of Veracruz is typical: catcalls from Chevys carrying a bevy of gardeners; construction workers hollering Spanish expletives from across the road (my friend assures me I should be grateful for my ignorance of Spanish); the cute, young and forward lifeguard on the beach; boys slowing down in their cars for a quick peek.
These sporadic bursts of attention are ego-friendly. As far as flirtation is concerned, there's no guesswork, and sexy smiles are the mask of choice.
"I have a surprise for you," teases Nina, Ricardo's lesbian roommate, sister of his partner Daniel and my new best friend, in a thick Mexican accent. "Today these two men came to me at work. So cute the face! And the body! They gave me this."
She hands me a flyer for what will be our evening's entertainment, a male strip show touring from Mexico City at an old reggae club near the beach. The cover is $10, including a reservation and private table. We appropriately slut ourselves up and catch a taxi downtown, hungry for debauchery.
Immediately, I spot my favourite lurking near the bar. Enthusiastic bartenders and strippers alike haphazardly pour tequila down our gullets. But my polite Canadian sensibilities coupled with the surplus of alcohol in my system are inhibiting me from attaining what I came for.
A wide-eyed Latina in a fake alligator-skin cowboy hat with a bleached- blond wet look and too much makeup corners me in the bathroom. I'm a novelty in the toilets. The alcohol makes me bold in broken Spanish, and suddenly I'm the most popular Canadian between the sink and the hand dryer.
"Which one do you like?" she asks.
"Well, the MC is pretty cute. I kinda like his hair," I coyly reply.
She guides me out of the washroom toward, the bar, where the MC is taking a break as his co-workers dance up the now hammered and horny ladies.
I watch as my new Latina friend whispers something in his ear - an introduction maybe? Be nice to the Canadian girl? I smile at the MC and he smiles back. My Latina friend is nowhere to be found.
With barely an ¡hola! uttered, I have señor's tongue halfway to my stomach. I happily respond to the kiss. By the second-last night of my trip, I've learned that Latino men are as fluent in French as Spanish.
"You and I, we go to fuck?" I don't know if I'm more surprised by his sudden fluency in English or the directness of his question.
"Qué?" I yell over the music, determined to engage in Spanish.
"You and I, we go to fuck?"
Before I can answer, I'm being led behind a curtain adjacent to the washroom. My friend sits beside it with her gaggle of Mexicanas.
He moves over me as I lie there, incredulous (albeit eager and horny) that a stripper from Mexico City is poised to boff me behind a swath of black velour.
A battle is occurring between my libido, his hands, his tongue, his chest, his Spanish and the reality that keeps assaulting my rational mind: I'm behind a curtain in a seedy club, sans condom with a big-city stripper.
"No puedo! No puedo! Tengo un novio en Toronto (I can't, I can't! I have a boyfriend in Toronto)," I coo. A lie.
"But he is not here," he replies in an accent that seems to make my legs spread further.
Our session is sporadically interrupted by the flashlight- and camera-wielding bouncer sent in by my friend to take pictures. The tequila and Mexico have left me unfazed and flexible. I pose.
"No puedo! No puedo! Tengo un novio!" I repeat, grateful that I'm wearing pants. If I'd worn a skirt I'd be pregnant by now.
"But he is not here," he volleys again. This is getting harder figuratively and literally.
"Tengo mi periodo! (I have my period)," I manage, grateful for the Spanish coaching I received prior to leaving the apartment. He retreats quickly, offering a smile. I leave the curtained area feeling frustrated and relieved.
Somewhat more sober, pushing past the veil of horny drunkenness, I watch my one-time suitor carouse at the bar, trolling for the next horny female. Veracruz has certainly pushed me, a girl who's sexually coy to her own detriment, in the right direction. Afterward, my only regret is that I didn't pack my vibrator.