Spanish Coffee

Before pc bleached English of many piquant usages, New York City coppers, particularly those whose beats comprised predominantly Puerto Rican blocks, used a term for “nooners” with compliant boricuas along their patrols. Spanish Coffee.

I prefer to understand these connections emerging from mutual inclination rather than coercion.

Outside of moments demanding adrenalin, fast-twitch muscles, and cat gut nerves, isn’t police work routine?

Children having rendered them “used goods,” what stay at home barrio mother wouldn’t appreciate an infrequent “fren” lusting after her? These interludes reminders of past days when her firm, unburdened, attractive youth made all the boys’ heads turn.

Or on the less savory side, maybe these romps necessary to ease the situations of relations or associates who’d gotten jammed up at the local precinct. A pair of mid-February meetings touched on Spanish Coffee-like circumstances.

In Las Vegas, establishments have arisen that cater to the city’s exploding Mexican population. A place like Las Lindas.

Wasn’t long ago relative few Mexican-Americans, much less any Mexican immigrants, resided here. Today all types of “hablamos espanol” businesses are represented. Gentlemen’s clubs included. The address where events occurred isn’t exclusive to Mexicans, but that clientele predominates. A patron who doesn’t speak Spanish sticks out.

As if Sammy, Frank, and Dean could ever revisit Las Vegas the entertainers wouldn’t recognize the place, neither might any of them be able to identify those who crowd the ranks of hourly hotel and casino employees. Back in their Rat Pack heyday blacks and whites filled the uniforms of porters, bellmen, valets, kitchen staff, and housekeeping. Today Mexicans, and to lesser degrees, Pacific Islanders, have muscled the old groups aside.

Why and how this demographic change has come about is difficult to answer. Maybe the former rulers of that roost now look upon hospitality jobs as demeaning, though these pay well and still offer extensive benefits as well as enable entry into comfortable middle class lives. Or maybe the hiring processes have become so stringent and today’s native-born are generally more casual about backgrounds they bring to workplaces. In any case, the new brown faces appreciate the good deal they’ve gotten. They show gratitude beyond landed citizens and mainlanders.

Two different players, at two different hours, had dissimilar experiences inside Las Lindas.

Tate labors in construction. Until the Great Recession, he’d made a home and career in Las Vegas. The aughts’ financial crash, its deep and lengthy impact here, forced him to seek a livelihood elsewhere. After almost a decade toiling throughout more prosperous climes, he’s back happy economic malaise has finally quit Nevada.

When his workweeks are especially good, Tate, a bachelor, wallows in Las Vegas strip clubs. The ones locals prefer. In them Tate seeks out entertainers who also “work” to gratify him.

On a recent Saturday afternoon his ache and what was available almost didn’t jibe. More as a last resort than anything else, he swung by Las Lindas. The cha-cha’s inside pleased him and the bargained-for price surprised him.

The sex also sated him for that moment.

If Tate knew that the Mexican women inside Las Lindas looked down on him because he was black, apparently blacks in general if numerous anecdotal claims are believed, Tate didn’t care. After all the chicas were submitting to him. Even if they wanted to refuse servicing him, they couldn’t. At least not without severe consequences from the boss.

Mind, this attitude doesn’t carry over into Americans of Mexican heritage or Mexicans who’ve been on this side of the line for a while. After a while even the latter learn that “Tipping” is not a city in China.

No. It’s a trait that distinguishes recently arrived Mexicans. Particularly those immigrating from the country’s less advanced parts. As deferential as they conduct themselves towards Anglos, is as rude as they behave towards blacks. Without a doubt it’s something they’ve dragged along from Mexico.

Reminds me of my travel to Spain two years ago. There, once Spaniards discovered I lived in the American West few ever failed declaring “No somos Mexicanos!”

Later that night, Calloway, a Briton in town to do “as much of a full Vegas as possible” found himself inside the same premises. His experience in Las Lindas was a skosh more hectic than Tate’s.

Calloway, he of the plumy accent, whose first visit this was to Sin City, had completely swallowed the hype. He’d hired high-end hookers, gotten a limo to chauffeur him around town, snorted a good share of coke, and had run up bar tabs commensurate with his high tolerance for alcohol. Nonetheless he desired a gritty escapade or two.

Okay. Sure.

Las Vegas will deliver on fantasies no matter how potentially dangerous to the reveler.
Fate heard Calloway, answered him. She yanked him down from his rarefied indulgences and dropped him among the swarthy and suspect.

The Briton had no idea how he landed in Las Lindas that night. His last memories before finding himself in a Tijuana-like outpost were spending a K or several which had gotten him an exquisite turn with an elegant escort, a bump of barely stepped on cocaine, as well as envy from pedestrians and motorists wondering what celebrity lounged behind the gleaming smoked windows of the stretch gliding past them. Then in an eye-blink utility replaced luxury.

The visitor probably told his driver “Take me someplace interesting.” Around here that’s just the sort of request which often deposits straight men at transvestite clubs.

Calloway’s limo driver had disappeared with the car as well as absconding with what crumbs remained of the Briton’s coke. Rather than reclining in a plush seat being attended to by perfumed pulchritude in a luxe club, Calloway stood anxiously inside a Mexican’s version of a blind tiger, no white man’s idea of swank.

His clothes additionally distanced Calloway. Dressed to impress, he’d worn a sports jacket, button-down shirt, though tieless, slacks, all freshly pressed, and mirror-shined shoes. Cheap lingerie bound Las Lindas’ women and mules shod their feet, while the club patrons modeled the manual laborer’s uniform of dusty t-shirts and denims and dirt-caked boots.

Isn’t the above an example of dichotomy?

Dingy as his sudden setting was, it was nevertheless easy to see himself as the locale’s sole pale face. This further displeased the feral putas and angry cholos verging on mobbing him. Had Calloway entered Las Lindas possessing notions of enjoying nothing more than dusky, exotic, down-market, carnal amusement, its usual customers and hostesses disagreed. In fact who among them wasn’t annoyed at this pinche gringo interloper in their midst?

At least that’s how Calloway sensed the seething encircling him. He said, “I actually feared having the taste of cock in my mouth as the only way of leaving Las Lindas alive, mate.”

Apparently a man who didn’t split his tens, fortune spared Calloway one tough to tell Las Vegas story. Someone in the mob took mercy on the Briton and hustled him from the premises. Not just out of Las Lindas but to a well-lighted spot outside on the pavement. There, a cruising cabbie seeing a well-dressed white man way out of his element, fearlessly stopped and collected a street hail from that part of town at night.

Safe and cheerfully regaling a much less aggrieved audience with his adventure, Calloway, exaggerating, tethered his evening’s outcome to one of Churchill’s aphorisms: “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.”

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