AKUMAL, MEXICO — So whose brilliant idea was this? Oh, yeah, I forgot. It was mine.
It’s one thing to be puffing up Eighth Avenue to catch the B69, but it has turned out to be quite another thing to go on a beach vacation — crutches and all — when you have a broken ankle.
On the plus side, just as in Brooklyn, the people of this seaside paradise have opened their hearts to me and my tobillo roto (the local argot for “broken ankle”). And unlike in Brooklyn, the love I’m feeling down here is pure. These people love my broken ankle for what it is, not simply because it’s attached to the still-functioning leg of the man recently named “Editor of the Year” by the Suburban Newspapers of America (have I been mentioning that award too often? Tough luck. No one asks Marissa Tomei to stop talking about her Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny.”).
On the negative side, where do I begin? Ever try to walk on a beach in crutches? Getting to the water involves a Herculean (actually Sisyphus is the appropriate mythological metaphor) effort as my crutch poles sink deeper and deeper into the sand. The locals point, calling me “El loco gringo.” I’d like to think they’re impressed by my attempt to make the best of a bad situation, but I fear they are just making fun of me.
Ever the optimist, my wife had told me from the start that my role on this trip would merely be to sit by the pool with a margarita and a book and she would take care of everything.
Loyal readers of this column know that I don’t “sit” by anything, margarita or not, and just let other people “take care” of everything (though I am enjoying Park Slope author Nicole Krauss’s “The History of Love”).
And the margarita turned out to be a complete lie! The day we landed, all the bars, restaurants and supermarkets had police tape around every single bottle of booze. My Spanish isn’t too good, but even I could read the sign: “No alcohol sales permitted until Feb. 4 due to the election.”
Turns out, all of Quintana Roo was having its state presidential election and the authorities have banned alcohol sales (my limited Spanish left me unsure whether the two-day Prohibition was designed to encourage a sober decision-making process or to discourage a drunken revolt when the winner — a choice between Senor Corrupto and Senora Incompetento — was announced).
My 6-year-old was savvy enough to see that something was wrong.
“No beer during the election?” she asked. “That’s the OPPOSITE of what it should be.” (Note to child welfare authorities: I have NO IDEA how she could possibly understand this central truth about alcohol. She’s a smart kid, what can I say?)
Anyway, I showed at least six bartenders my American passport — an indication that I was ineligible to vote in their election and should therefore be allowed to waste myself away again in Margaritaville — but it was all for naught.
As a result, I watched the Super Bowl — broadcast in Spanish on Fox Sports Mexico — for the first time since I was 15 without so much as a beer. It’s a good thing, though, because if I had been drunk, I would have run naked down the street when Los Gigantes won.
That wouldn’t have been very good for my tobillo roto.
• • •
In a related story, a bidding war has broken out over my first cast, the one signed by Borough President Markowitz.
To raise money for Markowitz’s “Camp Brooklyn” charity, I put this priceless collectible — a journalistic, medical and political heirloom — on eBay with a starting price of $2.
As I write this, the bidding, which closes on Saturday at midnight, has topped $100, a frenzy of activity fueled, no doubt, by the rivalry between Councilmembers Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope) and Simcha Felder (D–Borough Park).
Both pols aspire to higher office — DeBlasio to the borough presidency, Felder to city comptroller — so it’s clear that both men think that winning my cast is a springboard.
Indeed, nothing shows a deep interest in the concerns of the electorate more than winning my sweaty, Markowitz-signed cast.
But why let them get off easy? Help me raise money for “Camp Brooklyn” — and show up my wife, who said the auction wouldn’t raise more than $5 — by driving up the price. Bid today!
Kuntzman’s ankle is expected to be in a cast for at least four more weeks, putting in jeopardy whether he will be free of this Fiberglas hell in time to collect his Editor of the Year award in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on Feb. 21. Watch for updates. In the meantime, you have until Saturday at midnight to bid on his cast, which is signed by Borough President Markowitz.
Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBay ISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280197010864 to bid. All money from the winning bid will go to Camp Brooklyn (no, really!). For information on the charity, visit www. brooklyn-usa.org/Pages/whats_happening _in_Brooklyn/campbrooklyn_info.htm