Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday, April 17th

There are a few “must-dos” when traveling. You kiss the Blarney Stone. You drop a coin in the Trevi Fountain. And, when in the Caribbean, you drink $18 beer-by-the-yard at a place like Senor Frog’s.

Tuesday was our last day in Puerto Rico, and we decided to go to Senor Frog’s, which, if you are lucky enough not to know already, is a chain establishment that is synonymous with Girls Gone Wild videos, binge drinking frat boys, and the very forced promise of, “The Most fun You’ll Have in the Caribbean!”
So, after a last visit to our favorite café (the servers bought us a round!) we made the trek to the place where they had recently shot an episode of Spring Break: MTV. As you can see, Cody got there first, and, with his backpack and high self-esteem, didn’t feel terribly comfortable there.

The only girls going wild in the joint are in their early to late 40s and everyone (not just the toddlers, of which there were a few of in the bar, horrifyingly enough) is wearing a balloon hat. The clientele’s apparel is pretty homogenous – ill-fitting denim shorts and souvenir t-shirts from other Caribbean locals. You quickly learn which Hard Rock Cafes many have been to. There are a lot of early to late 40s men (presumably the companions of the aforementioned “girls” gone wild) who are urged to chug a yard of beer in one gulp. Yes, a yard, as in almost three feet. And many do it. Their shirts are also emblazoned with such quips as, “I’m not as think as you drunk I am,” “Drink until she’s cute,” or the overwhelming favorite, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”

We ordered our drinks, which gave new meaning to the words, “I’ll have it in a tall glass.” You can see by our toast that I opted for the traditional bottle of Coors Light, which gave the bartender a bit of trouble, as he tried to locate a beer of such Lilliputian size.

But then the strangest thing happened. We…started having fun. And it wasn’t the drinks, because we’d have gone broke if we’d had more than one. Jennine started taking part in the silly contests they had there – here, in a singing contest, she proclaims herself, “Katie Rich, from Chicago, Illinois.” We cheered her on, and she won with her rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee.” Steve started treating his balloon hat as one of the gang, feeding it beer and such. And I even won a couple of rounds of name that tune

And that’s what pissed me off the most about Senor Frog’s – that I had a lot of fun. Like Bill O’Reilly dancing and laughing at a gay rights BBQ hosted by Rosie O’Donnell, I had to admit that I enjoyed myself in place that I, for the most part, disagree with strongly.

I think one of the reasons we had such a good time was because we had had so much time to really take Puerto Rico in. This wasn’t our only day there. I think it is a shame that folks with only one day in San Juan spend it in a cheesy, chain bar. You can get drunk on over-priced cocktails at home. San Juan is beautiful and charming and inspiring, and I hope some of those “Hard Rock Café – Cabo” people got to experience that.

And, of course, I was with some of the most kind and hilarious people I have ever met. Anything we do is fun, because we do it in our own twisted way. When I was admonished by the DJ for not standing on my chair like everyone else in the bar, I told him I couldn’t stand on a chair due to my prosthetic knees. So I had to cheer and sing from the safety of my folding chair. We all laughed, despite making the DJ pretty uncomfortable. It just goes to show that it’s not where you are but who you’re with that really matters.

Bring on the McDonald’s in Rome!

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