INTERVEW WITH THE CALAVERA
CABO That's what this interview is all about, isn't it?
MYISLA: Well, yes. I take it "Bob" isn't your real name?
CABO BOB: No.
MYISLA: Ah. Well. Why "Cabo Bob"?
CABO BOB: I originally did the book in Cabo San Lucas.
MYISLA: Well, why "Bob"?
CABO BOB: "Cabo Seymour" was already taken.
MYISLA: Can you help me out a little bit here?
CABO BOB: Okay. Sorry. I'm always cranky this time of day.
MYISLA: This time?
CABO BOB: Day time. Anyway, I thought the book needed a catchy personality, and since I have a really dorky name myself, I used the title of a novel I was working on at the time called, can you guess..."The
MYISLA: And why.....?
CABO BOB: Here we go again, huh? No, I will reveal to you the Origins of Cabo Bob. We used to live on the beach there before there were all the hotels...before there were ANY condos. Various hippies, smugglers, yachties, international nogoodniks. And we noticed this phenomenon in the little palapa bars on the beach. You'd be sitting there, minding your own business, drinking margaritas and what-not, and suddenly your head would just nod down on your chest. That would wake you up, and you'd pop your head into it's full upright position, but then you'd just start nodding out again. Pretty soon, you'd get into a rhythm. Maybe there'd be a whole table full of people doing it at once, like The Wave. That was the original Cabo Bob.
MYISLA: I see. Well, that's really....disappointing.
CABO BOB: Tell me about it. But from those sordid beginnings, Cabo Bob went on to become the leading perpetrator of Mexican Slang education. An international superstar of obscure jargon.
MYISLA: Yes. Thanks for the official "Cabo Bob" T-shirt, by the way. But I think it's too small.
CABO BOB: Oh not at all, it looks perfect. Did you read the book?
MYISLA: Well, of course. That is, I probably didn't read ALL of it.
CABO BOB: But you recall the term, "chichona"?
MYISLA: I can't say that I do. There are a lot of words....
CABO BOB: That's the one for you. Look it up later.
MYISLA: I think I'd better. Anyway, where did you learn all of these slang terms?
CABO BOB: Mostly in the gutter and jailhouse. This is not stuff mentioned in classes or phrase books. That's kind of the point.
MYISLA: Lets not get into which particular jails or gutters. But why did you decide to collect these words into a book?
CABO BOB: I'm only in it for the money, baby. Seriously, people used to ask me about things they'd hear me say--particularly at meetings of the Tijuana Bi-Cultural League. So I started doing little xerox lists for friends, and pretty soon the list was getting pretty long and expensive to copy, so I made it into a book to try to make a profit instead of paying for the privilege or educating my fellow gringos.
MYISLA: So what do you think about the book's reputation as a potty-mouth primer?
CABO BOB: I'm glad you asked me that.
MYISLA: Well, you told me to.
CABO BOB: Really? Clever. Must have been last night.
MYISLA: Listen, last night was a mistake. I never do things like that, normally.
CABO BOB: You call that "normally"? Man, I thought I was kinky. Anyway, the idea that "Slang 101" is just a bunch of dirty words and drug terminology is inaccurate. You look at the "Contents" page and you'll see there are 10 chapters, of which "Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll" is only one. The other nine are most cultural education, really. I should teach this stuff in college.
MYISLA: Maybe if Spring Break was an academic discipline.
CABO BOB: Discipline? Hey, that reminds me...
MYISLA: No more about last night! What do you mean by "cultural"? I can't wait to hear this.
CABO BOB: Well, slang is really about culture, isn't it? REAL culture, the way people really live and think and relate. Now just to mention a few of the many precious gems of wisdom in my book, you noticed how "padre" means "cool", but "madre" has all these negative connotations, not even a polite word to say in certain contexts?
MYISLA: Well, like I said, I didn't....
CABO BOB: Oh, man. Well, anyway, it does. And what does that say about a culture? What does it mean, culturally speaking, that a woman calls her husband "mi hijo" and her son "papi"?
MYISLA: I don't know, what?
CABO BOB: Well, it's meaningful, see? These are the sorts of things sociologists go nuts over.
MYISLA: But you have to admit that there is a lot of sexual terminology mentioned.
CABO BOB: You only read that one chapter, didn't you?
MYISLA: Look, I'm supposed to be asking the questions here.
CABO BOB: Why? I didn't even want to do this dumbass interview.
MYISLA: You did too. You want the publicity so you can sell more of your nasty book.
CABO BOB: Nice talk for somebody who can't even read an 80 page booklet. But as I recall it was YOU who wanted to do this charade so you could put it on a website and break in to writing book reviews for newspapers back in Bumbumper, Iowa or wherever you come from.
MYISLA: I came from Liverpool, actually.
CABO BOB: One of those hick towns, anyway.
MYISLA: Amazing. Anyway, if your main interest is sociology and cultural enlightenment, why didn't you censor the stronger "bad words."
CABO BOB: So people will know what not to say.
MYISLA: That's so pathetic I can't even laugh at it.
CABO BOB: No, it's true. You HEAR these words on the street. If you'd actually done your homework instead of spending the evening at my place with your chains and whipped cream and trained chihuahuas...
MYISLA: That is NOT TRUE!
CABO BOB: I didn't think they were trained. I don't know if you even can train something with such a small brain.
MYISLA: I don't HAVE chihuahuas or chains or....
CABO BOB: Hey, you were the one who didn't want to get into all this. Anyway, if you'd read the book, you'd have noticed that when I introduce such words, I generally say something like, "the correct expression is 'penis', but you might hear people say this or that in public, but DON'T say this word in front of anybody's granny." It's a public service, really.
MYISLA: So you say you're not just pandering to prurient tastes?
CABO BOB: Yours, apparently. Most people read the rest of the book, which is mostly about words you hear in sports or families or dating, or just hanging out. People like to know how to say "cool" and "pound some brews" and "I do this gig for the bread" in another language. That's what I mean about educational.
MYISLA: What about drug terms? Is this the image of Mexico you want to promote?
CABO BOB: It's all just for fun. What, you think people read a word and suddenly go out to score drugs? Lots of those terms for marijuana and what-not aren't even really used much, but they're fun. Same way with some of the synonyms for having sex--it's just fun to hear it called "feeding the monkey" or "checking her oil". The three goals of "Mexican Slang 101": entertainment, education, and induced depravity.
MYISLA: I give up. Oh, wait, I was supposed to ask you about the cover art. Is it a rip-off of the "Day of the Dead" skeletons?
CABO BOB: I guess. It as done for me by Jessica Kreager, a very fine painter from Seattle, who used to be known for a "punk" sensibility. I thought skeletons were the perfect image to reflect Mexico and appeal to student-aged travelers.
MYISLA: Well, speaking as a student-aged traveler...
CABO BOB: Who's thirty-five, doesn't speak Spanish and doesn't read books.
MYISLA: I think that's about enough of this crap.
CABO BOB: Amen, sister. I could use an eye-opener myself. Maybe a little hair of chihuahua.
MYISLA: I TOLD you not.....
CABO BOB: Oh, and don't forget to mention that my new book will be collection of Mexican jokes.
MYISLA: Wonderful. I'm out of here.
CABO BOB: Nos vemos, guapa. (Translation on page 2)