Rear cover in Mexico

I yelled a phrase that can be reduced to a three letter acronym and I wouldn’t say in front of my mother. I said it loud enough that it actually made my head hurt worse. If my mom had been standing there, she would’ve pursed her lips and looked at me sadly. I was naked, standing on cold a ceramic tile hotel room floor, and staring into my empty suitcase.

“Did I really forget to pack underwear?” I asked no one in particular.


“I have a present for you,” my friend Joe said the night before. A few minutes earlier, he’d indicated he was headed back to his room to finish up his work for the night. Now, he was standing there with a skinny Mexican woman. She grabbed my chin, tilted my head straight back, and blew a screaming whistle such that everyone in the vicinity turned to watch. Before I could fully process the scene, the woman was pouring a long stream of tequila rosa down my throat.

“Happy birthday, Otis!” everyone screamed.

I was now 35–old enough to be President of the United States, older than Charlie Parker when he died, the same age as Stevie Ray Vaughn when his helicopter went into the side of the mountain–and I was in Mexico.


This was supposed to be a quick trip, out and back in less than five days. I was in Nuevo Valllarta Mexico just across the Jalisco border from the well-known Puerto Vallarta. The Latin America Poker Tour was kicking off the second event of its second season and I was there to chronicle it. The trip to San Jose had been a breeze and I expected nothing less from the Mexican jaunt.

And despite having misplaced my underwear (and socks), picking up a mild hangover, and suffering a bubbling distress about a personal matter, I was in a pretty good mood. The road crew for the LAPT is a good one. The people are funny, good company, and full of great stories. If I have to be on the road, these folks are great companions.

We had just resolved a mild technical issue when I heard a familiar voice on the microphone. Mike, a guy I have know for quite a while, was on the mic telling the poker dealers to finish the hand they were playing and stop. Seconds later, a guy who should not have been on the mic was on the mic. He spoke in rapid-fire Spanish while my friend stood behind him, obviously more than a little concerned.

I turned to Reinaldo, a Costa Rican buddy, and raised my eyebrows.

“They are suspending the tournament,” he said.

I muttered another phrase I wouldn’t say in front of my mother. This wasn’t good.


I’ve seen rooms cleared for one reason or another in the past. It happens. Because of my association and relationship with the people on this tour and others, I never have to leave the room. As long as I stay out of people’s way, I can continue my work quietly while the problems are worked out. So, instead of vacating the premises like everyone else, I worked for a couple of more minutes, went to the bathroom, and came back to work some more.

I pecked a few keys on my keyboard and wondered why all my fellow media friends were gone. I looked up and Mike was looking directly at me.

“You do not want to be the last one in here,” he said.

A few seconds later, I was in the hallway with all my gear and a few hundred other people. If Mike hadn’t said that to me, my computer, backpack, and passport would still be in that room. Hence, I would still be in Mexico instead of getting out on the first flight I could find yesterday.

I owe Mike a very expensive cigar when I see him next month.


Discretion being the better part of…whatever…I’m not going to write about the next 24 hours. If you know me well enough, you know why and you know where you can go to get a more complete story. Suffice it to say, it alternated between troubling, exciting, disconcerting, and ultimately annoying. By Saturday afternoon, I had reached a woman at the airlines and booked the first bird back to the States.

Funny thing about that…

When one leaves Mexico, security goes through everybody’s luggage by hand. The first woman in line was a busty Canadian with a Me complex. Security opened her giant suitcase and she started complaining. “This is so embarrassing. Can you turn it around so nobody else can see it?”

There was a cute young couple behind me. They were coming off their honeymoon. The new bride looked like a sweet little thing who was probably her daddy’s pride and joy. Her looks made it a little more than surprising when she said–and a little louder than I thought anyone would–“Lady, we don’t give a fuck what’s in your luggage.”

I said, a little more quietly, “At this hour, everyone is so sleepy it’s not like anybody can see anything anyway.”

The girl responded, even louder, “I don’t care what time it is. She probably has a big green dildo in there, and I still don’t give a shit what she has in her luggage.”

The big girl cleared through security (I never saw any sex toys), and it was my turn. A smiling Mexican woman in plastic gloves pawed through my dirty laundry. As she got ready to close the suitcase, I saw it–the zipper. There is a freaking zipper in the skinny part of the suitcase. Behind it was a lumpy bit of fabric. My freaking underwear and socks.

Six hours later, I was home, exhausted, and in clean underwear.

And that’s all I have to say about that. For now.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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5 Responses

  1. Owen says:

    Ahahaha. The underwear! Was in the suitcase! The WHOLE TIME!

    What a debacle. Anyways happy birthday and glad you’re not spending the first days of year 36 in a Mexican prison.

    PS I got out too! Freedom!

  2. Da Goddess says:

    Happy belated birthday and all. Glad you’re safely home.

  3. Nathan says:

    Happy Birthday & Welcome Home. Sounds like a helluva trip.

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