(Original photo stolen from this guy)
LAURIE: Before I knew you, you took a couple of trips to Mexico in vans full of volleyball guys. Tell me about that.
CHAS: Well, in about June of 1992, we went down to Estero Beach in Mexico, about ten miles south of Ensenada or so. It's on a huge spit of sand on the edge of a spectacular shallow bay. Every year in the last week of June there's a big volleyball tournament there.
LAURIE: Were all of you playing in this tournament?
CHAS: No, just Doc.
LAURIE: So how many of you went down for this?
CHAS: Rob, Frank, me, Morty, Dave, Doc -- there were about nine of us. We were in Doc's VW bus. The fist incident of note was when we stopped somewhere near Stockton, maybe? And we stole a sign that read, "YOU ARE ENTERING THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH." It was at some kind of government agricultural station. The sign sat in front of our van at our campsite the entire week.
LAURIE: The sign was right. So it must have been one big party.
CHAS: Yeah. We were talking about how a bunch of men could live together in this van. Someone referred to it as like living in the Biosphere. With all of the Mexican food we'd been eating, I dubbed the van The Flatu-Sphere.
LAURIE: So the sign became a necessary warning then. How long did it take you to get to Estero Beach?
CHAS: Our trip down took something like thirty hours.
LAURE: Why on earth?
CHAS: Well, we lost a fan belt, and then we had to replace the accelerator cable.
LAURIE: This happened in California, I hope?
LAURIE: Did you drink the whole time?
CHAS: On the way down, you mean?
CHAS: Aw, I wouldn't say that. We showed some discretion on the way down.
LAURIE: And how about at the beach?
CHAS: Every morning we started with Corona. That was the breakfast beer.
LAURIE: Were you drinking any water? I know that in Mexico that's risky.
CHAS: I was. We did have bottled water.
LAURIE: Did you actually play any volleyball?
CHAS: Um . . .
LAURIE: Well, what did you do there, since you weren't there to play in the tournament?
CHAS: Sat around, drank beer, flew kites and played pick-up volleyball games. At night there were dances, in bars with outdoor live music and dancing.
LAURIE: Why was it you ever got married, again?
LAURIE: So what else did you do, you know -- when you could stand up?
CHAS: The kite flying was pretty funny, because we had miles of string. The string would sag across several courts and occasionally give people rope burns while they were attempting to spike the ball.
LAURIE: DURING THE TOURNAMENT?! How did you guys NOT get kicked out?
CHAS: You can get kicked out of Mexico? Oh, you mean for our kite-flying. Like I said, it's an informal tournament.
LAURIE: I know there are more stories. How did Doc do in the tournament?
CHAS: Uh, not so great. I don't remember how he ever came up with a partner. Maybe it was a blind draw?
LAURIE: He sure wasn't picking from among his kite-flying buddies, that's for sure.
CHAS: Oh, I remember -- a girl would walk by, and we'd tell her, "Hey Miss, you dropped something." Mostly Frank would. She'd bend over and we'd check out her bikini'd ass. You'd try to keep the ruse going on as long as possible. After a minute, as it would dawn on the woman what was going on, Frank -- who was the master at this game -- would say, "Thanks for playing!"
LAURIE: What else aren't you telling your wife?
CHAS: Oh, and then some guy walked up to us and informed us of the 7.4 earthquake that hit San Benardino County. He was kind of grave, until he kind of brightened up, and said, "Coupla people died," almost in a cheery way. That became a rallying cry for the rest of the trip. "Coupla people died!"
LAURIE: What did you eat when you were down there?
CHAS: Fish tacos were four for a dollar, in the evenings. Tamales two for a dollar sold out of buckets by old ladies on the beach; that was our frequent daytime fare.
LAURIE: Any fruit of vegetables or anything remotely healthy?
CHAS: Cilantro on the tacos.
LAURIE: Did any of you almost die for any reason?
CHAS: Did any of us . . . well . . . I almost got swept away by the incoming tide once when I was taking a leak.
LAURIE: Nobody ticked off any big ugly boyfriends? No Federales?
CHAS: I don't think we had a brush with them.
LAURIE: You just weren't trying hard enough. What about your other trip down to Mexico?
CHAS: That was for a 50-mile bicycle race, which I did participate in, from Rosarito to Ensenada. About April of 1991.
LAURIE: How'd that go?
CHAS: Well, just as we were crossing the border, I felt explosive diarrhea coming on. I don't think I'll go into that any more, except for that, of course, how dehydrated diarrhea can make you.
LAURIE: So, did you win?
CHAS, IGNORING ME: So the course was mostly inland, and very steep terrain, and my hamstrings began to cramp unmercifully.
LAURIE: Were you at the starting line yet?
CHAS: I was not even halfway done. I had to walk my bike for quite a while. Oh, and there was one huge mountain called El Tigre, which was probably about 1500 feet straight up.
LAURIE: Was this before or after the diarrhea?
CHAS: The diarrhea happened the night before.
LAURIE: You know I have to ask.
CHAS: I was using my friend Dugan's borrowed expensive mountain bike, and I was crestfallen to be passed by a guy on a cruiser bike. Who did not have diarrhea, by the way.
LAURIE: Was he pulling a vegetable cart?
CHAS: Dugan did tell me later that those were the wrong tires for a road race, so I felt better. And they were under-inflated, too.
LAURIE: This is very sad.
CHAS: And the seat was hard. I wasn't used to it at all. My 'nads were numb and tingly for --
LAURIE: Okay, let's move on. Did The Flatu-Sphere make a second appearance?
CHAS: That trip we used Evan's parents' dark green U.S. Forestry van, that burned a quart of oil every 30 miles or so. It didn't so much burn the oil as it just shot out the side of the engine. Oh, and it was a column shift -- three on a tree.
LAURIE: Sounds like good choice of vehicle for a 1500-mile trip. Did you have a death wish? Did the van make it either direction?
CHAS: Yes it did. I'm trying to imagine what made that the logical choice of vehicle options . . . I can't remember.
LAURIE: I don't even wanna know what cars you rejected. Anything else you can tell the cameras?
CHAS: My bottom lip got so swollen from sunburn . . .
LAURIE: No arrests?
CHAS: Um, no . . . ? No.
LAURIE: You don't sound so sure.
CHAS: There's this -- at one of the dances some girl thought it would be a good idea to mount Dave's broad shoulders, and he just collapsed like a lawn chair. She got up and said, "Well, he LOOKED strong." One of us charitably offered, "Well, he's middle-heavy." It was all just one big laugh. Unfortunately I can't remember any of it.
That's what ALL the smart husbands tell their wives. Wives with blogs. And a keen sense of bullshit.