Searching for Dinner in Tulum, Mexico

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Searching for Dinner in Tulum, Mexico

I recently visited Tulum, Mexico with my family and in search of a good restaurant came across several situated on the beach. While one looked to be spectacular, they did not allow children so we went in search of a babysitter for our little one Ricardo.

Back when my brother and I were both less than ten years old, a big mistake was made and our parents left for vacation to Italy. The mistake was not so much that they chose not to take us with them, but rather the person they chose to leave us with-a young woman we’ll call Marylyn who, for all we knew, had been hand picked from the bottom of a Corn Flakes box.

Marylyn attended a community college and majored in education which, looking back on it, was a red flag. She wore a mullet-like hairdo and, from what I can remember, her eyes resembled those of Beelzebub. She spoke with a white trash accent that referred to people as “you’s guys” and soda as “them cans of pop.”

One the first day of (what I like to call) her reign, seeing as though the woman was dictator-like, Marylyn walked into the kitchen while I was making myself a snack of Lays potato chips and Minute Rice. She told me that Lays were not appropriate for nine in the morning and snatched the bag out of my hands. I cried mercilessly and then my brother began to cry in that mimicking way little kids do that says “I have no idea why I’m upset but, for the love of God, this is the worst thing that’s ever happen to us.”

We would eventually retell the story to our parents hundreds of times, and with each repetition, Marylyn became more and more violent. “She practically smacked him,” my brother would say. I would then follow up. “Yeah, I thought my fingers were going to break at one point! In fact, feel this. I think they are broken.”

One of the basic requirements of her job, besides supposedly taking care of my brother and me, was to do the laundry. Normally, my father was responsible for the laundry in our family: a chore most households defer to the female. But my father claimed to enjoy doing the laundry believing, not unlike some people and knitting, the process to be therapeutic and restorative. It was his interest and dedication to the laundry that manifested itself in an extremely high caliber wash-and-fold product that spoiled us as kids.

So it was not without disgust that, upon seeing the way Marylyn did the laundry, my brother and I searched ravenously for the slip of paper that contained the phone number of our parents’ hotel in Venice. “You’re not going to believe this,” I anticipated saying. “She doesn’t even separate the whites from darks! And the socks! She just rolls all the socks into balls and tell us we have to fold them ourselves!” My memory is somewhat skewed, but I vaguely remember my brother suggesting that consider poisoning her evening glass of Franzia.

It was the last day of our time with Marylyn and simultaneously the day before my mother’s birthday. “So its mom’s birthday ain’t it boys?” I remember her saying, a question that had fallen on deaf ears. “C’mmon get off the couch. We gonna get her somethin special. How’s ‘bout we go to the store and look for a present. How’s’bout PetSmart? You’s wanna go to PetSmart and get mom a real nice birthday present?”

We welcomed our mother home from Italy with a warm dose of distrust and a large crate filled with a variety of tropical birds for her birthday. We set the chirping crate down on the dining room table and allowed her to soak up the irony of the whole situation. My mother would have appreciated anything for her birthday that year: jewels, clothing, even a handmade collage. But birds were probably the worst possible things we could have bought, and for that we were blissful.

It was at this exact moment that my brother and I, while maybe not realizing it at the time, learned the true meaning of revenge. What we (meaning us and Marylyn) thought was a cute and thoughtful gift, a sane adult considered idiotic and in poor taste. It was the look on my mom’s face that evening that brought the whole scenario into perspective. And after the bird incident, we never saw Marylyn again: in hindsight it’s a shame, because I was just starting to like her.

We eventually found our babysitter , via the recommendation of a Tulum hotel staffer. Upon returning, Ricardo was so excited with the new friend he’d made. Granted this young girl probably wasn’t in the same league as Marylyn, and for that reason I feel remorse that Ricardo may never know just what it feels like to loathe.

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