So what is it about guys like Hernández? Is the traditional dating scene that tiresome? "If you think about it," he says, "it's cheaper altogether" to go to his favorite Coahuila bar. "Dinner, movies, concerts, gas money driving everywhere -- it's so much work, and this could take weeks with a girl you meet in San Diego. In TJ, you pay your money straight up, and you're done in 30 minutes. Like me and my friends always say, all men pay for it one way or another."
The growing social acceptability in the United States of these "regular Joes" becoming "regular johns" may not be occurring in Tijuana. I meet Luis in a quiet bar in Chula Vista, where he often comes after work before crossing the border to go home. He shoots pool with a coworker named Brenda, and we chat after Luis offers to buy me a drink. They seem excited to see a new face in their regular hangout, and even the bartender gets in on the conversation. After a few drinks, they say they are going dancing that night in Tijuana, and I ask, "Going anywhere near the Coahuila?"
The smile leaves Luis's face, and all chitchat comes to a halt. He puts his pool cue back in its case as he tells me no, he's not going anywhere near the Coahuila. "You know why?" he asks me in Spanish. "Because my parents brought me up right. I don't go to places like that."