Feb 2012

Blog, North America

DISCUSSION 15 Comments

Sweatpants Superhero

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The only reason Sheena let me publish this article was for the hope that it may help future travelers overcome…their issues.

Sitting in Nacho one evening in San Miguel de Allende, Sheena looked over at me with wanting eyes.  Almost immediately I knew it was a trap.

“Bradley?”  She said, sounding so sweet.  “Will you do me a really big favor?”  I knew I couldn’t say no.  When your spouse is ill, it doesn’t matter that you’ve retired to your easy chair for the night with a Steinbeck novel and a good beer.  No, it doesn’t matter if your whole body feels like Jell-O from your 15 minute hot shower, or that you’re already wearing your pajamas.  For the last few weeks Sheena had been feeling unwell, and after adjusting her diet had failed to deliver results, I knew she was ready to pull out the big guns.

“Does it involve going to the pharmacy?”


These things, like pulling teeth, are best done quickly before your body has a chance to object.  I grabbed my hooded sweatshirt and canvas moccasins, opened the sliding door, and headed out of the campground.  I was halfway to the pharmacy before I looked down and realized what I looked like; a black hooded sweatshirt, matching oversized black sweatpants, and canvas moccasins without socks.  Being that they were my pajamas, and hence never having been worn with shoes, I had never noticed the nerdy way in which the bottoms of my sweatpants didn’t quite reach my shoes.  Instead the leg holes swung like hula hoops around my white, sockless ankles.

I made my way, self-consciously through the passersby on their way to dinner on this, a Saturday night.  I’ve heard that the French secretly make fun of Americans for the subset of our population that thinks it’s okay to be seen in public wearing full sweatsuits. Shame on us for giving the French a reason to laugh at us. When I see this atrocity, even I turn my nose up in disgust.  And how many times have I posted snide comments on Twitter about Scottsdale women and their bad habit of wearing matching sweatsuits in public?  Apparently twice.

I made my way down our street, across Calle Zacateros, to the Pharmacy.  I hadn’t really thought through how I would approach the interaction, so it went down like a train wreck.  I stormed in the front door and found the young female pharmacist staring down at the counter in a kind of trance.

“I need an enema.”

She looked up at me, startled.  She didn’t say anything, her eyes gave away her uncertainty laced with fear.  She didn’t blink.  I wanted to turn and run, but I remembered Sheena’s poor little eyes looking up at me.  …a really big favor?

“Um…do you have any of them here…for sale?”

“No.”  She must have been mesmerized by my matching sweatsuit.  “They sell them at Farmacia Guadalajara.  It’s down the road.”  As I left I could almost feel her thumbs on her phone keypad, texting all of her friends.

The town’s main street was crowded with couples dressed to the nines heading out for dinner, old ladies crouched over going wherever it is that old ladies go, and assorted laborers making their way home after a hard day’s work.  Beyond all of these judging eyes, Farmacia Guadalajara.

I bobbed and weaved through the foot traffic, my matching sweatsuit grazing the odd hand or old lady cane.  Straight ahead, Dilshan stood in front of his restaurant talking to Greg, our waiter from the night before.  When he saw me, Dilshan stopped and stared, mouth slightly ajar.  As I approached, he looked at my matching suit in disbelief, and then recovered.

“Heeeeey…you’re back in town?”

“Yeah…uh…our car is still broken down.  I’m going to the pharmacy.  You know, Sheena’s feeling ill.”  For a minute I thought he’d suggest that we stop by for dinner again, but then I remembered he had a reputation to uphold.

“I hope it wasn’t from my food!”

I assured him that it wasn’t, and dismissed myself with a handshake.  I turned to Greg and shook his hand, only to realize that it wasn’t Greg at all, but a complete stranger.  It was that moment of horror that we’ve all felt.  Oh, you!? I didn’t mean that YOU were pregnant! Been there.

Once inside Farmacia Guadalajara, I made my way to the back where another young female pharmacist waited.  As she handed me the enema kit her eyes said feel better, while also saying you look like a clown. I picked up two packs of chocolate and headed to the checkout counter.  It’s just something you do when buying a product like this.  Chocolate seems to lessen the blow, as if to say, “yeah, I came to buy this chocolate, but these caught my eye, so I decided to casually buy them too.”

There must have been something magical in that chocolate, as Sheena was feeling like a million bucks the next day.  Silverio and Mario returned to our campsite and fixed Nacho once and for all with new rear driver’s side wheel bearings, and we were ready to rock.  One more night in San Miguel de Allende and we were poised to hit the road to Oaxaca, near where Nacho Libre was filmed.  A place where people are used to seeing Americans dressed up in funny suits.  What would the French think?  Oh, let’s stop kidding ourselves.  Since when have we ever cared what the French think?

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  1. Michael

    Get what you need….roll on. Keep up the great blogs….. living vicariously.

    Comment by Michael on February 17, 2012 at 6:24 am

  2. Carlos

    The things we do for love…. Keep on trucking. I am replacing rear wheel bearings/brakes today on my 85 Westy, so I will keep you in my thoughts. Really enjoy the blogs. A few more things to do to the Vanagon, then I begin my roam.

    Comment by Carlos on February 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

  3. Sailor Bob

    I remember sitting in the plaza in front of the church in San Miguel, the moon glowing over the steeple and the young lovers strolling in the big circle. Had my ’79 Westy then. Only place in Mexico where I was nearly robbed…couple guys tried to steal my outboard motor from my luggage rack but it was chained in and they ran when I hollered. Great town. Savor it.

    Comment by Sailor Bob on February 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

  4. Jon

    I like the new title of this article, I have a feeling Sheena re-wrote it.

    Your trip has been inspiring so far, I wish I could convince my wife (and secretly myself) to shed most worldly possessions to be able to do what you all are doing. I hope you guys have an amazing trip, and if you ever find yourselves near Walt Disney World, let us know…

    Comment by Jon on February 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

  5. Pat Van Orden

    LOL! Glad Sheena is feeling better. Nothing worse than being sick and living in a Van on the road. Please NO PICTURES! Lucky for her you are a very compassionate guy and will help out. Carma was finally able to read your Blog from beginning until the latest Blog and loved it. She said the photos were great! (she still worries about you both)
    Love you guys! Pat & Dad

    Comment by Pat Van Orden on February 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  6. Barb Wieber

    Thank you Brad, Sheena’s Night and Shining Armor arrives again. !!!! Excellent author you are!!! Love you both Mom

    Comment by Barb Wieber on February 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

  7. Aaron

    I’m really enjoying your blog. Your writing style reminds me of Bill Bryson’s. Well-written, self-deprecating humor in a travel log is always fun.

    By the way, what is it with the 19th of December and your spotting (or at least commenting on) Scottsdale ladies in velour track suits on that date?

    Comment by Aaron on February 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

  8. Richard J

    When you write “I need an enema”, I’m surprised they didn’t sell you a super greasy taco! he he.

    Proud of you not using the “My WIFE needs an enema.” I would have wimped out and blamed it on her.

    Keep reminding us that Mexico isn’t a war zone like we constantly hear here in the US. Viva El Nacho!

    Comment by Richard J on February 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

  9. Mayolo

    This is by far my favorite post! It had me laughing the whole time! Sheena, hope you better! Safe travels and god bless!

    Comment by Mayolo on February 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  10. Aaron, I had remembered at least twice making fun of Scottsdale women and their jogging suits. As I searched through my Twitter archive and found two entries exactly one year apart, I felt as though I had stumbled upon some hidden, deeper meaning to something. The feeling quickly faded and I chocked it up to coincidence. I’ll have to remember to make fun of someone this December 19th to keep the tradition alive.

    Comment by Brad on February 18, 2012 at 4:32 am

  11. unibagel

    Aw, come on now. If you are making fun of yourself anyway, post up a pic of that track suit! We need the visual for full effect. LOL.


    Comment by unibagel on February 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

  12. Mom

    As soon as I finished reading your article, I marched right over to my closet, pulled out my black velour jogging outfit (avec hood, mind you), and promptly put it on the pile marked “Salvation Army.”

    True! Another truth: I only wore it ONCE after surgery last month. No, really.

    Comment by Mom on February 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm

  13. Mom,
    It’s fine to wear the velour jogging uniform if you’re using it for jogging. Just don’t wear it to the grocery store. I listened to a podcast a while ago about French versus American attitudes when preparing oneself for being seen in public. The French were said to want to add beauty to the world when they go out, while they spoke of the American habit of leaving the house in anything they happen to be wearing; the specific example given was the full sweats outfit. I found it amusing and true.

    Comment by Brad on February 19, 2012 at 5:06 am

  14. Jamison

    Wearing sweats in that situation is not a big deal. It’s when you go out to eat and places like that where it’s just outright shameful.

    Comment by Jamison on February 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm

  15. I’m betting it was all those Tres Leches that got ya, Sheena! :) Hope you are already feeling better.

    Comment by daralyn on February 24, 2012 at 12:10 am

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