When they torture you on the bus

You say, “entertainment.”

I say, “Why can’t we just have silence?”

Not the beach in question. Not Mexico.

I have been cleaning out old stuff – you know – covid cleaning – and found a bunch of old Christmas letters. This is from my 2003 Christmas letter, before I met Mr T.

BTW, I have changed my opinion on KC and the Sunshine Band. People can grow.

Trouble in Paradise

“I still can’t talk about it without shaking,” says Texan as she sits in the swing on her front porch, overlooking a calm summer morning scene of butterflies and hummingbirds flitting through her award-winning garden. By now, the whole world knows how she and her boyfriend, Harpo, were tortured during their vacation to Cancún. Wrapped in a thick terrycloth robe, with her damp hair combed back and no makeup, she looks dewy and fresh, despite the trauma.

“The abuse was all psychological,” she explains. “The scars are here” –  and she points to her heart and to her head.

 During their bus ride from Cancún to Tulúm, she and Harpo were subject to the most excruciating torture: they were forced to watch three Adam Sandler movies.

“We still don’t know why they did it,” she says. “We don’t know what they wanted or why they chose us. All we wanted was a relaxing vacation. Cancún seemed like a good idea. Harpo was able to get us a great deal with a charter company he works with. We even got to stay in one of those swanky hotels right on the beach with our own bathroom and everything. We were having fun sitting on the beach, eating migas and batidos de guayaba, and exploring the Cancún Wal*Mart. Then we decided to take the bus to Tulúm.”

The Torture Starts

She pauses and takes a deep breath.

“And that’s when things started to go bad.”

Texan and Harpo got on the bus, thinking they would watch the scenery or nap on the three-hour ride to Tulúm. But as soon as the bus pulled out of the station, the bus driver started a video.

“It was ‘Mr. Deeds,’” she says flatly, clearly struggling to control her emotions. “Neither of us had ever seen an Adam Sandler movie, so at first, we didn’t know what was happening. But by the middle of the movie, we realized we were being tortured. We thought we could endure it, but as soon as ‘Mr. Deeds’ was over, the driver started ‘Little Nicky.’ Harpo kept telling me to be strong, to hang on, but it was horrible, just horrible. All we wanted to do was to escape, but there was nowhere to go.”

Temporary Relief

They finally arrived in Tulúm and were able to get off the bus. For the return trip, Texan tried to bribe the driver.

“I thought that if I bought him some ice cream, he might spare us on the return trip. I’ve done a lot of research on torture survivors and have learned that that sort of bargaining is a very common occurrence in these situations. I believe they call it the ‘Stockholm Syndrome.’”

She takes a sip of diet Coke to calm herself, then continues.

“But it didn’t work. As soon as we were underway, he started ‘Punch Drunk Love.’ That was the worst one. My friend Leigh actually liked that movie, but I have come to realize that she and I have – how do I say this? – different tastes. I mean, I love her and all, but if she recommends a movie to me now, I don’t go.”

Finally Safe

“We finally got back to Cancún. We were both exhausted and frightened when the bus pulled into the station. But we mustered our strength and ran off the bus as soon as it stopped. We were afraid they would try to keep us there and do even worse things to us, like make us watch Demi Moore movies.”

“I have since learned that Mexico is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcing people to watch anything with Demi Moore in it. I guess the Mexicans didn’t want to be tried for war crimes.”

Investigation Continues

Authorities are still investigating what the US Embassy calls the “heinous” treatment of Texan and Harpo. The Mexican government has apologized for the incident, but notes that the movies were made in the US.

Such treatment of tourists is not unusual in Latin America. In Chile, KC and the Sunshine Band is on the heavy rotation list of every radio station. In Argentina, they show Steven Segal movies on the inter-city buses. Investigators are not sure of the extent of the problem because it so often goes unreported because of shame and horror on the part of the victims.

“I’m just glad to be home, where I can walk out of a movie theater any time I want,” Texan says. “I’m never leaving this country again.”

2 thoughts on “When they torture you on the bus

  1. Your last post was so “right on” that I thought long and hard about it. (couldn’t get my comment to save.) thanks for all the thinking you are doing these days about right and wrong and for all the good writing!


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