Arnie Thexton: Living Large On A Little In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Original blog can be found HERE

[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV legal correspondent, Jim Karger]

From Hank's Bar in San Miguel de Allende, an interview . . .

It seems that San Miguel de Allende attracts every situation and every personality, from people making a living to those just living life. This is another in a series of interviews that may help explain why this city in the high desert of central Mexico has been attracting Americans and Canadians for more than 60 years.

Rexall Arnold Thexton is known to most in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as "Arnie." Arnie's father, it turns out, was also named Rexall, if only because in 1913 the Rexall Drug Store chain offered a college scholarship to the first child born named, you guessed it, "Rexall."

And that is how Arnie learned to fight -- over his name.

Born in Klamth, Oregon, in 1940, Arnie reminisces "my father was logging in the summer and loading boxcars in the winter. Mother worked in a factory. I was there until I was 6 years old, and then moved to northern California, near Redding. My father had a 3rd grade education. I went to 17 different schools before I graduated 8th grade. I was a kid who moved around so much and I wasn’t a very good student."

¨It was good that I learned how to fight," Arnie recalls. "Every time I went to a new school I would have to fight the bully. But I was always big for my age.

"At age 15 1/2, a few weeks after I got my driving learner's permit, I went to Tijuana with my Dad and my uncle. That was my first time with a hooker. I learned that I liked them. But I never really appreciated the ladies of the night until I got older. And I loved Mexico from that first experience, not only because I got laid, but after that we went down to Rosarita and went fishing for a few days and acted crazy."

Arnie graduated from Alhambra High School in northern California in 1960 and knocked a girl up and got married soon after he graduated. "That lasted a year," he recalled, "and then I went to Santa Anna Junior College for two years. I was All-American there in football. Then I went to Washington State for one year and was kicked out because of my grades, or better said, lack of grades."

Arnie tips his first Margarita of the evening, leans back and smiles.

"I went with my Dad driving semis cross-country. After a year of that, I told him, 'Not my life,' and I quit. Got married my second time when I was 23 years old and drove a truck for 15 years. We stayed together 18 years and had 2 children. I tended bar and bounced in clubs. When I was 30 I began professional wrestling."

"Wrestling?"

"I was conned into it. I was pumping iron and was always stronger than most, and worked out for a year every Wednesday and Friday at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles learning the trade, learning the game. I had to wrestle in front of Mr. Moto and some of old wrestling greats in order to get my license.

"Then I began wrestling in southern California and Arizona. I had a perfect record. I lost every match, predetermined, of course."

"In 10 years, you never won, Arnie?" I ask, feigning incredulity.

"No, but I had a perfect record," he laughs. "I was always a designated bad guy. 'Rex Arnold from Moscow, Idaho,' was one of my wrestling names - bald with a big beard. I wrestled Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, and I even wrestled Freddy Blassy who was 70 years old at the time. Lots of stories," he offers, sharing the time he had acid poured on him by angry fans, was stabbed five times, and kept some of the knives.

"I still work out, as you know. (We see each other in the gym 5 days-a-week). So we have some pretty gross injuries, but they are nothing compared to what I saw wrestling. I saw one guy get his head split open and his eye was laying on his cheek at about mouth level. Most dangerous part of wrestling," he continues, "is the fans, especially if you are a designated bad guy. I had two guys in Bakersfield chase me out of town throwing beer bottles at me. And once, at a San Bernadino match, I was leaving and raising hell and as I was leaving the ring there is an excruciating pain in my back. I turned around to see who it was and beat the shit out of them and it turned out it was an old lady, probably 80, with a bullwhip. She drew blood. As I walked out, the cops were wrestling her to the ground. You can’t believe how these fans get about wrestling. If they got a chance, they would hurt you."

I order another round, and Arnie continues.

"At the same time I was wrestling, I was bouncing bars in The Gas House in West Covina, California. When I first started bouncing, I was pretty mean. I would hurt people. And then people started coming back with knives and bats, so I changed my ways. After that, when I knocked someone down I would reach down and pick them up and say, 'I'm sorry,’ even though I wasn’t sorry, and instead of coming back with a knife, they would show up two or three days later and apologize. That is a life lesson, amigo."

Indeed it is.

"During the same time, I was also driving a truck for Farmer John’s, [the] largest pork producer in southern California. It was the only fresh pork in Los Angeles at that time. Used to hang out after work at The Horseshoe. For a while a big deal was head butting. You would grab a guy’s head and slam it into your own head. Sometimes it would knock somebody unconscious. Whoever gave up had to buy the beer. At work, it was even tougher. The beef drivers we had to work with were crazy, tough bastards.

"I would also tend various bars and after I got off went up to a card room and played poker all night. There was a gal once and we ended up at Carol's Bar every night, I saw this gal and she walks up and said, ‘I want to cook you breakfast.’ I never got breakfast but got everything else," he smiles slyly. "I showed back up in the card room about 6 am. It was living. Hard living, but living."

"You still miss the contact?" I ask.

"Oh, yeah. I sometimes go to neighborhoods here in San Miguel where I have heard someone got mugged just so I can have some ‘contact’. I love people, but I really enjoy kicking the shit out of someone who really deserves it."

"Even now?" I ask.

"Especially now. Guys will look at me, figure I can't handle it anymore. They are wrong. I know how to do a few things, and two of those things are fighting and fucking…especially fighting."

"So when did you give up wrestling, Arnie?"

"When I was 40. I moved to Oregon and ended up getting a divorce from my wife of 18 years and moved back down to southern California and started working in the landscaping business. Went to work as a laborer, then became a supervisor for 8 years and ended up running that company. Then I left there and went into building water features on golf courses, you know, fountains, waterfalls and the like. Started there as a supervisor and worked from 1989 to 2002 building waterfalls, lakes, streams, and fountains on golf courses in the western States.

"Then I retired in 2002 and didn’t work for a couple years. Then I got a call and I ended up going to Russia for 6 months doing the same thing over there."

"How did you like Russia?"

"Loved it. Women are hot and vodka is the best. Had a bar called ‘Doug and Martins’, with a 150 foot bar and there would be women sitting at that bar and would beg you take them home, at a cost, of course. If you walked up the bar, two or three of them would pull their tops down and show you their tits. I loved it. They would go home with you, go all night, get up and cook you breakfast, bring it to bed, kiss you goodbye and not even ask for taxi money."

"What was the tab in Russia, Arnie?"

"By the time you paid the bar to take the girl out of there, it was about $120 US.

"Got back from Russia and didn’t work a couple of years and then in 2006 I get a call to work a new golf course in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, called 'Las Ventanas.' I took the job, moved to Mexico and finished the job in four months. 10 hours-a-day, 6 days-a-week, and party every night."

"And, so Arnie, after 6 years in the high desert of central Mexico, why have you stayed in San Miguel?"

"Main reason is the weather -- dead solid perfect. This is the best weather in the world, no competition. It is never too hot and never too cold. Also is the beauty of the town and the people. This is the heart of Mexico. This is the history of their people. I have been to a lot of places in Mexico but nothing compares. Cost of living was also a big factor. My Social Security and Teamsters retirement total $1800 US-per-month. And here I can live well on that."

"What’s the worst part of San Miguel?"

"Hard to say, but I guess it is that so many Mexicans here speak English it is hard to get your Spanish chops up."

"Anything else you don’t like?"

(Long pause.)

"Not that I can think of. Maybe a few of the Americans. Some of them focus on what is wrong here. They should be on their knees thanking the lucky day they showed up here."

I nod. "How do you spend your average day in San Miguel de Allende?"

"Get up about 6am. Spend a couple of hours on the computer. Then head for the gym. Work out a couple of hours. Then I go home, make myself lunch and then take a siesta, and then take a nice long walk in the afternoon. I never turn the TV on until about 5pm and that's about it unless I get a phone call from a friend who wants to go out to the bars and then I will go with them. Pretty tranquil life."

"Do you miss work?"

"Fuck no! I don’t have to work, but if I want to travel I need to take jobs from time to time. Otherwise, no, I don’t miss it. And, besides, I usually end up spending all the money I make working partying in each place. So, it pays to stay at home."

"You talked about being able to ‘live well’ here. Tell me about living well, Arnie."

"Well, I belong to the best gym in town. I have never paid more than $300 US-a-month rent here. Ï give about $75 US-a-month to a family I have adopted here. Did it five years ago. This pays the two daughters’ tuition and allowance each month. Gives them a chance going forward they otherwise would not have. I also donate to the orphanage here. I pay my housecleaner $15-a-week for one day-a-week. Gym is $50-a-month. I fuel my truck. Then about $150-a-month for the ladies, if you know what I mean. I guess I piss away the rest," he laughs.

"Ladies, Arnie? Whatever do you mean?"

"In San Miguel, there are three bars where there are working girls. Big thing to remember is never run a tab in those bars. If you have 2 drinks, they will say you had 10. So, pay as you go, one drink at a time. The girls will sit on your lap if you buy them drinks, and they can drink a beer in 60 seconds. They are paid by the drinks they sell. They will give you a lap dance in the back room, price negotiable, but usually about $10 US. It can, and usually does, lead to other things. The other things have to be negotiated. But they can run from as little $20 US up to $50 US.

"But I don’t stay in San Miguel," Arnie continues. "One of the most famous girly bars in Mexico is Corral Las Chivas in Celaya, about 45 minutes from San Miguel. Best girly bar I have ever been in ever, anywhere in the world, and I have been in more than a few. On a Saturday night, they will have 130 girls on the floor. They have a flat rate of $100 pesos ($8 US) for a lap dance, $100 pesos to dance on the table, blow job is $300 pesos ($24 US) and full on sex is $500 pesos ($40 US). Set rates. Very nice. For an extra $150 pesos you can get a bed. Otherwise it is in booth standing up," Arnie offers matter-of-factly.

"What about just hooking up with one of hundreds of women here in San Miguel, Arnie, one of those who killed their husbands, most likely by nagging them to death? What about them?" I ask.

"Nope. Too expensive. Most expensive piece of ass is a free piece of ass. I can’t support another person. I do well supporting me. You date and two dates later you hear it, 'I love you.' The end. Every old gal around here wants a man."

"A man?"

"A relationship, where you own them and they own you. No thanks. If I could find a gal who just wanted to hang out, be friends, that would be fine. But you can't find that anymore than you can find a unicorn."

"For a 72-year-old guy, you know, Arnie, that you are going to be a hero to a lot of 25-year-olds, right?"

(Smiles.) "Well, that may or may not be, but at least I didn’t have to talk about all the cheating during the years I was married. Now I can do it with a clear conscience."

"Would you marry again, Arnie?"

"Maybe a Mexican gal to get quick citizenship." (Smiles.) "Just kidding. No, never."

"How much of your ability, your satisfaction, do you attribute to your superb physical condition?"

"I have always been an athlete. I have never known what it is to do it any other way. When I was playing ball, I would do 1000 pushups and 2000 sit-ups every night. I have always worked out. I have always worked hard - never sat in an office. Stayed in shape. I have never had a problem getting it up, if you know what I mean."

"I know. So, are you happy, Arnie?"

"Yeah, I am fine. It would be nice to have more money, and that will come with the next job, but I will just party it away. You know that. And, I get great joy from my three children, two girls and one boy. I stay in touch with all of them."

"So, what’s the plan going forward?"

"No plan. Just live day-by-day. One of the best things about living here is learning to live day-by-day."

"We have each had five drinks over the course of this interview, Arnie. We’re done."

"No, we’re not. Another round," he smiles at our bartender, a cute young lady who smiles back and winks.

"You got it, Arnie."

And, he does. 

Jim Karger is a lawyer, and frequent contributor to The Dollar Vigilante, who has represented American businesses against incursions by government and labor unions for 30 years. In 2001, he left Dallas and moved to San Miguel de Allende in the high desert of central Mexico where he sought and found a freer and simpler life for he and his wife, Kelly, and their 10 dogs. Karger's website is www.crediblyconnect.com