I wandered up to the boat bar at Samoa after a grueling day of waxing Swell’s hull under a cloudless sky. The place was deserted except for two gringos with their backs to me as I walked up to order a club soda. Cigars and local artisan crafts were spread across the bar in front of them. “Club soda por favor,” I told Claudio. The closer man turned to look at me, and a Cheshire grin quickly spread under his bulbous nose. A half-inch gold chain draped out of his light yellow polo shirt with “B. Levell” dangling at the bottom in an absurd display of diamonds set into gold.
I almost choked on my first sip of soda when I saw it. Apparently I was more interesting than the crafts and smokes, because his attention instantly shifted my way. The scene was just too interesting to pass up, so I pulled up a stool and listened to him banter on in a thick mid-Western twang. He was 73, owned property in Golfito, night clubs in Nebraska, and loved gambling.
“Can’t I buy you a drink? You hungry? You want a cigar?” He repeated with cartoon-like animation. I didn’t want anything but he wouldn’t give up.
“I’ll have ice cream I guess.”
“Bring her some ice cream!” He shouted to Claudio, who shared my delight in the comedy of the situation. A chocolate milkshake and a banana split were both set in front of me a minute later.
“Ice cream?” He said with a look of disgust, “Can’t I buy you a drink? You want to go to the casino? Come on let’s go to the casino.” He said flashing a wad of hundreds. Annoyed that I appeared unimpressed by his offers and his cash heap, he persisted.
“How about high-card-low-card? You know how to play? Hey bartender, you got a deck of cards back there.”
“I think so,” I replied non-chalantly as he shuffled the red-backed deck and flipped over a six of diamonds. “High.”