There is an old SCTV skit in which Catherine O'Hara plays a beautiful woman who attracts men so effortlessly she barely even notices they're there. They mob around her, jockeying for position, trying to light her cigarette. Andrea Martin plays Catherine's awkward, mannish, overly protective friend who tries like mad to shoo them away.
I used to joke that Joey was Catherine O'Hara and I was Andrea Martin. (She disagreed.) Everywhere we traveled--Russia, Cuba, Mexico--men were drawn to her. I'd stand nervously on the sidelines, wondering, now who is this guy and what does he want and how are we going to get rid of him.
Joey never fussed. She simply handled them. She was polite, she was gracious, she smiled and laughed, and she somehow magically got them to go away, with no damage done to the men's ego or to our person.
On a boat in the middle of a Mexican lagoon, she knew, was no place to confront Juan.
I was not so measured. So when she came back to where I was sitting and said, "Juan wants to know if you'll do it with the driver," I nearly shouted. What? What? He wants to know what?
"I know, I know," Joey said. "I told him you wouldn't want to." She tried to calm me down. I glared at Juan, who shrugged. His gesture said, Hey, no harm in trying.
The oblivious driver continued to pilot us slowly through Yalahao Lagoon. Presently, we pulled over to a beach. What's going on? I was instantly suspicious.
Juan told us we were at a regular stop for the tour--Isla de Los Pajaros, known for its birds. (Hence the name: Bird Island.)
He helped us down from the boat. As far as I could tell, we were nowhere. We were on a small deserted sandy beach on an isolated island somewhere in a remote Mexican lagoon. "Take us back to land," I said. "Take us to the beach so we can see the sunset."
Juan and the boat driver talked briefly in Spanish. I glared at them. I tried to look as though I could understand them. They said something else. No! I said sharply, to whatever they were plotting, if they were plotting. Vengo a playa! I demanded. Which is very, very bad Spanish. ("I go to beach!")
Juan ignored me. He came over and took Joey by the hand and started to lead her down a path into the palm trees. Where do you think you're going? I said. He said he was going to show her the birds.
Now, as it happens, we really were on a regular stop for the tour, and this island really is quite famous for its birds--egrets, and flamingos, and pelicans, and ducks. I had no way of knowing this at the time, though. I figured he was trying to lure Joey into the jungle for nefarious purposes, leaving me alone to -- to what? To do it with the driver?
Oh no, you don't, I said, thus depriving Joey of the possibility of seeing hundreds of flamingos in their natural habitat. We're getting back in the boat and we're going back to land.
Juan shrugged. He and the driver chatted again in Spanish, and I gave them frequent sharp looks, as though I could understand every word. (I understood nothing.)
And then we got back in the boat and puttered back into the lagoon.
Eventually, we ended up back at the village. We paid the driver, and we had to pay Juan, as well, for his "tour guide" services. I told him we wouldn't need him any longer. We'll find another way back to Acapulco, I said. We're going to the beach now, to look at the sunset.
And off we went.
There were a few flaws in my plan, however. One: The sun was nowhere near setting yet. And, two: Juan simply followed us.
1 hour ago