Ugly American

Watching the Superbowl is a near-necessity for American citizenship. Instead of having immigrants memorize factoids about the founding fathers and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to gain permanent access to our salt-saturated culture, we should simply ask them for the scores of the last dozen Super Bowls: that’s what REAL Americans care about, anyway.

I personally couldn’t give two shits (let alone a holla) about this ritual of gluttony (commercial-based, violence-based, buffalo wing-based), but I was hanging out with the owners of Brewha Hostel, who did. And I wanted a ride towards San Pedro, anyway.

It turns out that the Brewha dudes (Zach, Taylor & Pete) didn’t actually have a car—what I saw parked in their driveway upon my arrival was rented and not owned, so I had to take the series of cab-bus-cab to a point that was only half-way to San Pedro anyway.

They had decided to view the Superbowl in the most American venue possible: the Hooters Costa Rica, located in the brandspankinnew Mall in Cartaga, hooter CRthe largest interior shopping space in Central America.

The Mall was pure, polished shit: Americana. The exterior was shiny and edgeless as a Tonka truck for the retarded, and Ticos in fake-cop uniforms waved pedestrians across the white bars of crosswalks with white-gloved hands.

The game started at 5:30 local time, but we arrived at four for fear of not getting seats. Good thinking: we got one of the last tables, one of those useless high ones that are surrounded by bar stools and are really only designed for drinks & peanuts.

Hooters is a very disconcerting place. It’s like a strip club where the dancers make minimum wage (tipping is not a thing in Costa Rica). The women (girls?) are dressed about as scandalously as their better-paid counterparts. Where else are you supposed to look? Are you expected to look anywhere else?

We were seated by a Amazonian Tica with oversized juggs. She whipped out four plasstik fold-out menus that were worded mostly in English, despite the fact that we were the only Americans in the place other than an African-American family seated in the distance (At Hooters, Kids ALWAYS Eat For Free! a sign near the bar read). The Amazonian asked us what we wanted in halting Spanglish. Zach had a question about the menu, and the Amazonian unsubtly leaned over him, mashing her left jugg into his forearm.

We all ordered wings, which were a dollar a piece for some goddamn reason (they were probably shipped all the way from the US, Pete later pointed out), as well as a pitcher of beer. The Amazonian brought the pitcher and, with great concentration and incompetence, poured pure foam into the pint glasses like some sort of geisha on her probationary period. Pete told her to keep the pitchers coming, and we all managed to house two of them before the preservative-stiff wings arrived.

(Keep ‘em comin)

I faced five pints of watery swill within a half hour, and for the first time since the summer, I was fucking lit—day-drunk, swiveling on one heel to a tipsy universe. I bummed a stoag from Pete, and we stepped outside to the blinding-black tartop to smoke.

About a year ago, the Costa Rican government instituted a strict law that prohibited smoking inside public buildings—the signs were everywhere, but the rule was rarely enforced. I had smoked inside bars with bartenders, inside cabs with cabbies. Pete and I tried to light up as soon as we exited the plasstik Mall, but one of the fake cops yelled at us, and we had to walk all the way across the epic parking lot to the side of the adjacent highway to before we flicked our lighters. I flicked mine, but then immediately thought better of it and tucked it back in my jeans; I had to piss like a sonofabitch, and a nicotine-dose would probably push me over the edge. There wasn’t a dirty corner anywhere around the mall, so I had to drunkenly sprint across eight lanes of traffic to a wide, trash-strewn field ringed with tin shacks. I let go into a concrete wall: pure relief, until I heard a yell from behind me. I zipped up and turned to see an entire Tico family staring at me from their slantdown porch, the little boy pointing.


We finished our butts and re-entered Hooters Costa Rica. As I was weaving towards our table, I noticed a sign posted on the wall, made up to look like an American ‘Yield’ sign that read:


Blondes Thinking!

…among the more obvious problems with this sign laid the fact that none of the Ticas working the joint were lighter than a deep brunette.

I chugged some more drunk-water. All the girls working the joint were wearing dark tights: their legs were ash. They were wearing low-cut tops with push-up bras: their tits were molded plasstik. Someone rang a cowbell and the girls rushed to the front and started dancing nervously, glancing at each other with tight smiles for reassurance. I whirled around to a hoard of leering, middle-aged men. I don’t know what the fuck the black family was doing.

I needed another cig. I was out, the pack of rip-off Lucky Strikes crumbled in my jeans. I swerved out of the joint and started boosting around the mall, searching.

I passed GNCs, McDonald Dessert Stands, Apple Stores, ect. GAP Kids, Taco Bells, ect, ect, ect.

All of a sudden, I felt an empty lust in the hole of my stomach: the drunk munchies. I didn’t wanna bust my wallet on more dollar-wings, so I turned back to the food court and stepped up to a Burger King.

With grand incompetence & drunkenness, I completely fucked up the simple order. Even with the help of an English-speaking manager, I accidentally ordered the Whopper Jr. meal instead of the sandwich alone. I received the miniature burger and the equivalent of a small fry and small coke for almost 8 dollars.

In general, products originating in Costa Rica are a bunch cheaper than their American equivalents, whereas stuff that needs to be imported is about as expensive. Local food for instance, is quite cheap. You can get a fresh-baked two-and-a-half foot Baguette con queso for a little over a dollar almost anywhere. Produce is even cheaper. You can get a pound of bananas or carrots for about 40 cents.

But here was Burger King, selling toxic shit for twice the price it would be in the states. And that placed was fucking packed. And those weren’t Westerners on line—every single one was a Tico. The only place in the food court that had more adherents was a Mac-Donald’s (they had more billboards).

Maybe the ugliest Americans are the new ones.

But On To The Next One—I still had nicotine to cop. I finally found a Supermercado on the second floor (who goes food-shopping in a mall?). Being an addictive drug, the cigarettes were housed behind lockdup glass, and I had to find assistance to purchase them.

Still ripped, I tripped my way to one of the checkout lines. When it was my turn, I attempted to ask the employee if I could get a pack of Lucky Strike rojos. I received the blank, slightly irate look I had become used to when talking to Ticos.

Why do I have to know YOUR language? I live here. You’re just a fucking tourist.

Who but an Ugly American would travel to a foreign country with no functional knowledge of the language?

Dullard. A drunken stare and a couple intermediaries got me my American-style stoags.

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