Thursday, August 4, 2011

Living Here: A Tabloid Moment

It was an evening out of the tabloid press.

As I walked out of baggage claim in Mérida's airport Monday night following a return flight from Mexico City, crowds of young women began to holler and mob several of the younger men from my flight who'd stepped into the reception area just ahead of me.

Back in the boarding area of Terminal 2 in Mexico City's Benito Juarez Airport, I'd become aware that what I assumed was some sort of pop music group was waiting with me for the Mérida-bound flight. I didn't recognize them, but from the garb and talk I assumed they were on their way to Yucatán for a performance. This deduction was more-or-less confirmed when I was pressed in the crush of autograph seekers and picture-takers as I tried to wheel my bag through the arrivals area in Mérida.

I had to wait for a minute or two while my neighbor Margarita (who was there to pick me up) jostled to take a photo of her teenaged daughter with a lead cast member of La Academia, actually a television program that is a Mexican combination of Big Brother and American Idol. The cast and production crew visit different states of the republic where they shoot a series of programs in which local young talents live together in a large house and then compete with each other by performing, with the obligatory drama of social friction and weekly eliminations, all of which is documented and edited into program segments. This apparently garners a large national following. Winners are given recording contracts and some go on to become well-known performers or recording artists. The program was to begin casting in Mérida the following day for its next series of shows based upon Yucatecan talent. My friends were very impressed that I had been on the plane with this famous TV cast. They were even more impressed, or should I say incredulous, that I had no idea who these TV stars were.

Margarita told me she had also just taken her daughter's photo with a famous plastic surgeon who had arrived. I guess he's a guy who does lots of stars and famous people in Mexico. Her suspicion was that he was in Yucatán to "botox" a certain key political figure with rumored higher political ambitions.

Speaking of politicians, my neighbor mentioned that while waiting she'd noticed lots of party operatives hanging around in the terminal, apparently there to greet a few prominent pols who got off my flight. This was due to the fact that the governor was giving her annual report to the people later the same night, and obviously important people were arriving to attend the event. Margarita had recognized some, and had shaken hands with a number of them.

One of these, she said, looked like the brother of ex-president of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and she indicated a small cluster of men in dark slacks and white guayaberas against one wall. She'd said hello to the man and shaken his hand, although she didn't continue the conversation to confirm his identity because she felt out of place wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sandals, having just driven in from the beach to pick me up.

Well, when I opened the newspaper the next morning, I discovered (and Margarita later confirmed) that she was wrong. It wasn't Salinas' brother she's spied. It was the ex-president himself. Carlos Salinas apparently had been on my flight.

So I'd jet-setted with them all: reality-show stars, the celebrity botox-and-boobs surgeon to the rich and famous, and an ex-president of Mexico.

I had a tabloid moment, and I'd had no idea.


  1. Carlos and Pat: It was more hilarious in real life. I even did something very unlike myself. Stuck right behind the young guys from La Academia, who were posing for photos with girls, I rose up on tip-toes, cracked by biggest, toothiest grin, and stuck my face into one of the gaps. My friend Margarita has the photo. It's pretty funny.

  2. I sure hope to see the photo soon! (Please, Margarita?!)

    You're lucky to be able to get off to DF on occasion. You'll give us more about it, hopefully. (My "dependents" aka "pets" and a couple other things prevent my returns to that wonderful city, although I can't quite give up my "Mexico City clothes.")

    Great story, Marc.

  3. Love this. Made me laugh out loud. The vision of you looming over the kids with a big goofy grin is hysterical.

    Coming back from Houston last time I left Merida, there were some Mexican women in line in front of me. I noticed there was much excited talk, and as our line snaked around, lots of giggles and craning of necks to see ... a very handsome young guy, maybe 30 years old or so.

    Finally, finally, we were even with him, and the women in front of me nearly swooned. Autographs were handed out, hugs dispensed, and once he'd moved on, they shared that he was a very popular actor from Veracruz and to see him in person had been the highlight of their lives. "He kissed my cheek!"

    Happy to hear you had your tabloid moment. Hysterical that you were oblivious to the important occupants of your plane ;-)

  4. They were all probably trying to figure out who you were!

  5. What an experience! I do believe only in Mexico could you be on a plane with an ex-president and a TV reality show crew. Could you put that together and come up with something really hilarious? I think so!

    Geez and all you did here was get on a bus! I'm so sorry we didn't have a red carpet for you.....ha.

  6. Alinde, actually the trip was to Querétaro, I just passed through Mexico, so no posts about "el metropoli" of these days.

    Lynette, glad I could give you a laugh. I think I enjoyed the whole thing more because I didn't really know what was going on around me until after it was over. These things are much more interesting in retrospect. Part of the fun was figuring it out afterward...

    Paul, I'm glad they didn't know who I was...

    Babs, sounds to me from reading your latest post that there is plenty of red carpet there to go around in SMA...I feel a bit cheated...also a few "tabloid" moments there as well, from time to time...

  7. So funny!! After living in Los Angeles for four years, I know the feeling. I definitely have had my share of "celebrity" run-ins without realizing it!


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