One thing the Pope was determined to do during his time in Cabo San Lucas was situating himself around the pool around 8 a.m. before anyone else and securing shade from both umbrella and a palm tree. At that moment, however, he couldn’t gauge who would decide to sit near him. On paper, the pool area looked inviting with the azure Sea of Cortez less than a hundred yards away with lounge chairs awaiting to embrace the body comfortably under an umbrella or cabana.
Over the entire week, he plopped his ancient butt at one spot or another and at no time did he receive complete satisfaction. One travels to get away from the familiar – relatives – or just people in general.Only, those people of the general variety also plopped their butts around the Pope and, invariably, some were jerks, assholes, children, or jerks and assholes with children.
The latter two categories were the problem the first couple days. A pair of ten to twelve year olds, in particular. The twelve year old made his presence known by climbing onto some artificial rocks, out of which a small waterfall flowed into the pool. He wanted to jump into the water which was only four feet deep. The kid’s eight to ten feet up, waving his arms – “hey, watch me, watch me” – and made ready to jump. His father called out.
“Get down from there. You’re not allowed to do that.”
The kid didn’t move.
“Get down,” the father yelled louder.
His son jumped into the water, made a big splash, and wasn’t hurt. The father lightly reprimanded him from afar and the episode was done.
Fifteen minutes later, the kid jumper was tossing a small football to his younger friend. They’re in an open end of the pool, not bothering anyone in or out of the water. A few minutes passed and the younger one had moved near the Pope. Between the two boys was a small island with plants, palms, and the aforementioned rocks, and they started throwing the football over the island.
Sixtus was reading a book on the development of aristocracy in ancient Greece and vaguely noted the ball being thrown but was totally absorbed in the book.
Another few minutes passed.
Suddenly, a faint shout broke his consciousness.
The football had gone well over the reach of the kid, hit the lip of the pool, and bounced into the Pope’s forehead, knocking his miter to the ground six feet away.
Sixtus startled the surrounding sunbathers with a batch of expletives.
The younger kid looked at him and said nothing. The other kid disappeared for a moment. The parents responsible didn’t openly acknowledge ownership of the twits and their actions.
“Can we have our ball?” the younger boy asked.
The Pope wanted to throw the ball onto the roof of the restaurant beside the pool area. Instead, he told the kid to get it himself.
“And take it where you won’t hit someone.”
No apologies. Nor did the older kid come into sight.
Personally, he thought they might have been aiming at his miter.
[For those wondering why he chose such a headgear for vacation, the Pope had mistakenly expected vacationers to honor a distinguished elder. One needed to cover his balding head from the vicious Mexican sun, so he went to a shop and bought a bucket hat.]
Day two by the pool proved less adventurous but just as perturbing. Although it didn’t start out that way.
Occasionally, he met a nice person or couple. Like Bob and Donna (didn’t get their last name). They were on their last day and waiting by the pool for their shuttle to take them to the airport. They had come to the resort complex because their own time share resort had been knocked out by a hurricane the past October and hadn’t reopened. They came to the Pueblo Bonito Blanco (a white building) and had a great time. However, they also thought the lounge chairs were too close to the pool and they couldn’t sit on them for more than an hour without incurring ‘keister lock’. Besides the fact that there was little space between chairs, which were too low to the ground as well.
Otherwise, they got away from the Blanco pool and went to the next building, Pueblo Bonito Rosa (Rose colored building). The Pueblo Rose had been built in 1994, Blanco in 1988. A new resort, Pueblo Bonito Sunset was just opening (the Pope would visit it later). All their meals were great and they suggested Sixtus head a few miles up the coast where he could sit outside overlooking a wonderful view of the Sea of Cortez and enjoy great seafood.
When they left and Sixtus proceeded to continue reading the book on Greek aristocracy, a man entered his consciousness and henceforth would be mentally noted as “the asshole” or, as time went on, “my asshole”. For it turned out that Sixtus and this man would not meet once but several times during the next five days.
The Pope didn’t like the way this guy looked and talked. A sort of cubed head, slightly stocky, the man talked incessantly to his wife and, especially, his children. The two older daughters, whom he called ‘beautiful’ and ‘pretty’, were probably his spawn from his first marriage because his wife didn’t look much older than thirty. His son, approximately ten or eleven, was generated by this second marriage. The son swam around the pool, occasionally, kicking up a storm in the process, to which his father scolded him.
“You might get the people wet” and “Watch out for the people sitting by the pool.”
This was certainly an improvement from the weak discipline enacted by the football thrower’s father. Maybe this parent wasn’t a bad guy. The Pope, at this point, thought well of him but didn’t desire a conversation.
A few minutes passed and suddenly the father himself jumps into the pool and creates enough splash to reach the Pope’s book.
“What the hell are you doing?” he barked at the suddenly playful father.
“No need to get hostile,” he responded.
“You got my goddamn book wet.”
“We’ve all paid the same to be here,” he reasoned.
“You shouldn’t really use that tone of voice. We have as much right to be around the pool as you.”
What was he saying? The Pope’s to blame for responding to being splashed? Hadn’t this very asshole (at this point, the assignation stuck in Sixtus’ head) told his kids not to make a big splash? Was this jerk even remotely aware of his blatant hypocrisy? If it was hypocritical. Insincere might have been the better word.
The asshole sat near the Pope for another three hours. The Pope tried not to look over and not to hear him, especially the fawning over his daughters. No avail. That’s all the Pope did. Heard every word the guy said. Watched every movement of him and his kids in the water. The Pope might have read twenty pages of his book but remembered nothing. He wanted to throw the book in the water rather than try to reread it. And when the man left with his brood, it was past two o’clock, the sun was at its hottest. Sixtus wanted to jump into the pool himself, except by this time the water was too warm to provide any relief from the ninety degree weather. Instead, he ordered another pena colada.