Rolando: The Red One

July 1st, 2017

We were all down in Mexico a few weeks back for our wedding shindig. All our friends and family, all of us having a good time and enjoying the tropical weather and change of scenery.

There were about 50 of us down at this resort in Cancun and everyday, groups of us would set up at the various spots in the resort and shuffle back and forth between each hang out spot through out the day.

Every evening, we’d meet for dinner at one of the restaurants, or for drinks at the bar and continue the hang out from earlier that day.

Now it was a mid-sized resort, so it didn’t take more than a day for most of us to be come familiar–at least by sight–with the other guests and staff at the resort.

It was kind of inevitable. Also, not a big deal or anything worth discussing. Tourists on vacation, nothing to talk about.

Except for this one guy.

By the end of day one, this guy had emerged as sort of a mythical figure that everyone in our group talked about. And almost everyone had some variation of the same response when they first talked about  him: ‘You see that red dude? What the fuck?’

The guy was this five foot five,  200-pound body builder dude that walked around with a NYPD hat and a tank top and shorts. He never smiled, he always could be seen in the same crew that include one other  guy and girl, and he always looked like he had somewhere to be, even when he was lying on the beach.

And by the time the first members of our group had arrived at the resort, and spotted him, he had already probably spent a few hours too many in the sun.

Better put, he was burned as shit.

And what made him a mythical figure, someone that caused us to speak in hush tones as he passed us on the beach or in the hotel lobby, was not the simple fact that he had a bad sun burn. It’s an all-inclusive resort in Mexico with a bunch of tourists over indulging in food, booze and beach activities, sunbathing included.

No, what made this guy stand out is that despite his already bright red burnt skin, he continued to sunbath–and, by some unexplained phenomenon, continue to get redder.

So much so, that we began referring to him only as, “The Red One.” And our conversations went from curiosity on why he felt the need to be out in the sun for so long to speculation on how he could survive it, to an overall concern for his well being.

Conversations would go like this:

“You see The Red One out on the beach this morning doing body weight squats?”

“Yeah, man, dude had a spaghetti strap tank top on, out there sweating his ass off.”

“You think he realizes how burned as shit he is?”

“I’m sure he doesn’t think he’s tanned at all. Why else would he be out there 10 hours a day in that Mexican sun?”

“Some one needs to tell him to cover up.

“At least he had some sunblock lotion on his nose.”

Or: “You see The Red One at the buffet this morning?

“Yeah, he likes his omelettes, huh?”

“Son of a bitch had three of them.”

“Eggs got vitamin d in ’em, right? That’s good for your skin. Maybe that’s why he can stay out in the sun so long.”

Or: “The Red One is purple now.”

“I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to die of sun poisoning.”

“There’s no way he doesn’t.”

“At least he went out having a good time.”

The rest of the trip went on pretty much the same. Hanging out on the beach or at the pool, meeting for dinner or drinks at night and a little The Red One talk spread throughout.

In the end, we all left and flew back to our respective homes. No one actually knows what became of The Red One, where he’s from, why he continued to sunbath, or if he ever made it out of Mexico alive.

I’m pretty sure once we all left Mexico, no one even cared.

But in my mind, though, I picture him still out on the beach walking around in all his burned and muscled glory, crushing omelettes and not giving a fuck about skin cancer. Long live The Red One.

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