Waves breaking far below upon the rocks are barely heard in the quiet autumn morning
at Villa Los Angles Condos. The sun breaking through the wood, white- slatted, shutters awakens Tigre. A stretch, yawn, then off the bed. Another stretch, then he stares at the Gecko, all 4 inches, half tail. A speckled, tan lizard attached sideways on the wall just inches from the ceiling. The lizard doesn't move; it has dined last night at the porch light.
Well, anyway, the Morning Gecko--strange name gringos give--rarely cane down. Because Tigre owns the place--been here 5 months--everything alive must be inspected. He
can’t climb plaster coated brick walls, so the inspection of the lizard this time must be visual. He saunters over to the blue bowl on the floor. It reveals what Tigre knew all along: without Mary rising for
coffee and bread with jelly, the table scraps would be crusty.
Mexico is backwards, no kitty litter, no canned cat food. Tigre stares at the door; then he goes back to the bed to sit next to Mary’s face swishing his tail. If that doesn’t wake, he’ll sit on her bladder--it is flatter than her chest and doesn’t
heave as much as her stomach. If its not too early, Mary will give Tigre pets and soft words.
In the luxury of morning quiet, I watch Tigre approach Mary; he has needs. In Mexico all things move in their own orb, greased by greed. Greed is so ubiquitous that it appears natural. Unplanned greed moves the economy; greed moves the police; Tigre is moved by hunger, love, and play. Pet cats do an exchange: they
give love. Mary is moved by a dream of being middle
class. I lie in the bed next to Mary's and dream of escaping from the tradition
that my mother-- Mary's aunt-- and my older brother Miguel have planned for me. I
should be in college, but that is not for women of my lower class background. I
serve their needs working in the family store. God! Why do you give me a mind
I watch my cousin Mary sleep. I am 18 months her senior. Mary matured early; well her figure did. We
are closer than sisters; we are best friends. I dream that she will rescue me
from a future that I am not suited for.
Mary is--and was--smart enough to recognize the virtue of greed and the fetid smell of poverty. She was a smart child who did well in grammar school. She
was raised in rural poverty. She was fortunate; few escape.
I lie in the bed next to Mary's, my first time away from home without my mother and think of Mary’s amazing
progress. Mary came from a peasant family, raised on the farm. She managed to escape the fate of her lot because her she inherited her mothers beauty, being fair-skinned
and above average height. Her father is short, plump, and dark-skinned. Only about one in 20 in the country is as fair as her mother. They were proud of Mary.
Her dad had been working every year in the fields in the states, except for 2 months in the winter. When Mary was 10, he arranged for a green card for mom and their 3 youngest children. Their oldest 3 stayed with his mother on a 5-acre farm, one without water or electricity,
15 kilometers outside of Zapotlanejo, in Jalisco. There were just too many
children for him to take from camp to camp.
In the country only a few
children go to secondario. The nearest one was 30 kilometers away. Her dad didn't consider education important, but her mom and grandmother prevailed
upon him. So they asked my mom, Mary's maternal aunt, if she could live with
us in Guadalajara. If my mom hadn't agreed, she would today be working in the fields. They saw
education, given Mary's looks, as a way for her to marry up.
Mary attended 9th grade in Guadalajar, then her dad Juan became a foreman on a farm. He bought
a house in Emmett, Idaho. So he got green cards for all his children.
Mary finished her education in the U.S.
A year after
high school, Mary decides to leave Emmett, Idaho, for Mexico, and moves
back with us in Guadalajara. We were surprised. I was pleased. Mom with only 4 children
still at home didn’t object too strongly. She’d mutter something
about American women. She only stayed a couple of months, then found a room to
rent in a nice neighborhood. Mary has had many experiences; I have lived
all my life in the same neighborhood.
presence is felt; Mary awakens slowly. She realizes that in an hour the company
van will pick her up, the one marked Port Royale Timeshares.
Well there goes my reminiscing; Tigre has succeeded. Mary is off to the bathroom. I'll make her coffee, after all I am her guest and best friend. . . . and some milk for Tigre. It is only
my second day here, and he doesn’t realize I too can satisfy his needs.
"Good morning, Yolanda," Mary says half asleep, while on her way to the
"Good morning, Cousin." I
Returning from the bathroom (I am in the kitchen heating water and getting
out the coffee cups). "Did I tell you of last months sales?"
"Only 3 times yesterday. "
"Well Howard says that we must set our goals high and dwell on our successes."
Uninterestedly, "I know Howard is your sales trainer and supervisor.
What do you expect him to say?"
"Thank god," Mary continues, ”that 3 of the 5 sales representatives
drink too much.” With a braggadocio smile, she continues, “Their weakness has placed me first in sales . . . , an extra $2,000 in bonuses."
"Great," I reply enviously.
"Do I hear
a bit of envy in your voice? Well you should be envious of my brains and these!" Mary, who had been teasing her bleach blond hair into shape, turns to show her overflowing
D cup bra. "Not bad; God has been generous."
"Small breast are more tender,"
I reply snidely.
"You wouldn’t know," she says while sneering.
"Miguel told me so!" A good quick, rejoinder
I think. My brother Miguel is too much into his father-figure role to have ever brought up the subject of breasts in
the presence of his virgin sister. He is 15 years my senior.
with her brow wrinkled, hesitantly, "The breasts contribute only a small amount of the overall pleasure during intercourse." A smile returns, "In fact once David is inside me, the fondling I find distracting.
But you wouldn’t know about things like that, would you?"
"My time will come. There is a magical joy to savored love that simple carnal delights cloud. You’re too busy living in the material and sensual world to ever make the commitment. Commitment is built through a protracted courtship, which heightens desires."
I expect to be taunted about my virginity, but Mary continues to dress. I am ahead, round 1--or am I?
It is a full
3 minutes before she replies, "Your world is so restricted that at 21 you can travel only if escorted."
Mary, now finished with the makeup, adds, "This is the twentieth century, those values, the self-denial,
the emptiness & MISSED PLEASURES are founded upon the economic dependence of women, the lack of dependable contraception,
the lack of abortion, and the pillorying of women by the orthodox Jew Paul who became a follower of Christ. Paul’s teachings were adopted by the Church. Denial
is founded upon Bronze Age, Judeo-Catholic dogma. You’re living in the past, COUSIN, held back by a family living in
the past and by poverty."
I can hear David talking;
sociology and social evolution never entered her mind or the word pillory. The selling of time-shares has made her even quicker.
"I wish that David hadn’t decided to fill the intellectual gaps in your education."
"Let me tell you of a situation last week that almost cooked my goose.
It’s quite a story. There is time; the van will be late again. Those who drink just can't get ready on time.
"It started in the palopa across
from work. I stopped there for lunch as usual.
Howard would buy. Only this time he specifically asked me to show up. This made me suspicious."
Mary, holding Tigre
in her lap, continues, "’This is our best closer’ Howard says introducing me to Geraldo. ‘She's from Zapotlanejo; raised in an adobe hut.’ I
wished I had never told him of my life. Is that the sort of things one tells a stranger?
It was to belittle me. I had told Howard of my background, because I am
proud of how far I have gone. I wanted him to know that I am exceptional.
"Geraldo is about 45, average height, looks quite Mexican. He
is wearing a gray summer suit, no tie. Has the look of money, but not of class. His Spanish reinforces my opinion. His
English is passable. I think, he has no class, no culture, no education, and
he doesn’t respect women. I wish Howard had not revealed my peasant roots.
I wonder what Mary has in mind, "Are you warning me of the tribulations of single life?
Ignoring my question, Mary continues, "I lost my protection of being a gringa.
I had to put up with his flirtations. Fortunately both Marge and Howard spoke Spanish; otherwise I am sure he'd have
asked me to get laid.
"Three more drinks during the next hour, and he begins to tell us about
his wife and three children. He even shows us pictures of than, pictures of his house, of his car. Are we to think of
him as an affluent family man? No, he's an ex-cop, a drunk one. His love of family
comes behind his love of conquest. Two more drinks and he hands me the gold bracelet; its heavy, but I’m not impressed.
People of class don’t make such displays of wealth, even when drunk. He
is thinking he can buy me with gold; no just that I am so impressed with Mister Macho that I’ll sleep with him.
"This can't go on all afternoon.
I want to come home, walk on the beach, get away from them. I am bored
and sober. I am hoping to get a ride with Marge and Howard. I hope they have plans for the evening; it is 3 already. If Geraldo
gives me a ride home, there would be no stopping him; he’s too drunk. Marge goes again to the bathroom; I go with her.
I explain; no, I insist, that I wont entertain Geraldo. I wont be his date. I
don’t want to be the 4th tonight. It is not part of my job.
It was wrong for Howard to make such arrangements. I just haven't learnt to cheapen sex, I tell her.
"Marge just laughs and says that she has been in that spot many times.
She is drunk. She advises me to have a few drinks and enjoy the situation.
"I consider commenting about the impropriety of Howard arranging a date
with the likes of Geraldo, but I conclude that because she copulates with Howard means that she is no better than him, and
such protestations will fall upon unthinking, drunk ears. It is times like this that I wished to have been married to David.
"Marge now with a chuckle. 'You know he is thinking of making a substantial investment in our corporation. He has excellent connections in the Yucatan. Obviously, Geraldo had been pestering Howard for a set up, a woman companion. Howard
made a business decision.'
"I wished it was Friday, but this happened on Wednesday. I couldn't say that we had plans.
"You were the only woman we know who understands the culture, Marge
tells me as an excuse for this situation." She tells me, "The truth is that Geraldo kept pestering Howard about meeting
Mary with a thoughtful look at me, “'If he was just homely, looked
like an Indian, but had family values, a kind heart, and was bright, then at least I could enjoy his company. Such a person
I would date. But Geraldo is a drunken cop.
"He tried to use money to buy a good time. But I am no good-time Mary.
He handed me again his gold bracelet, which was worth at least five hundred dollars. The look informed me that I could keep
it if I would be good company. He told me to try it on. I did politely, but then handed it back to him. There was no
smile on my face.
“I closes my eyes and visualize a night with him. I simply was not attracted to him. I didn't want him pawing me. I had a vision of him forcing
oral sex on me, and I felt sick to the stomach.
“I keep hoping that I can maneuver Howard and Marge into giving me a ride. I need to get out before they insist
that I join them for diner. But I realize that they will also give Geraldo a
ride. Geraldo will simply ask to be dropped of by which ever of them agrees to give me a ride home. I could take a taxi, then
he will volunteer to pay and say that he will take the same taxi afterwards to his place. I need to leave here without
him. How was I to make him understand that I don’t need an escort to my place?
Finally I come upon the idea of telling him that your sister Alicia and her husband Hector are visiting and we have
made plans for us to dine tonight. No sooner had I told them about your sister visiting Manzanillo, then I realize that Howard
is in the habit of inviting the relatives of employees out to dine, on the company account of course. Time for a quick exit.
"I tell them of my need to dress for dinner, and ask to be excused. I
see a taxi parked in front of the polopa, and get up to exit. Maybe they will be too drunk to go out tonight; however,
I recall that they drink every afternoon, then go out and drink some more at night."
"Visualize Mary in bed with a drunk, herself drunk. I visualize her waking up with a gold bracelet and a hangover. I laugh.
"I know what
you’re thinking, cousin."
I interject my two cents: "There are some advantages to being a virgin."
Mary continues, deliberately ignoring my comment, "Before I could exit,
Howard grabs my hand, Mary, I have a great idea, you know how I like to run up the company tab. We will all go to dinner. I insist on it. Bring Alicia and her husband.
"I get a clammy feeling. Oh
God! I’ve blown it!
Mary, frowning at me, serious tone, "They will know I lied. I
could loose my job.
"Geraldo, who is now properly drunk, gets up to escort me to the taxi. I tell him assertively, that
won't be necessary. I will see be seeing you at Bigotes tonight. This was a sales tactic, one of being forceful when necessary, and it worked. I can go home alone and fret about tonight.
"As the cab takes me away--thankfully without Geraldo--I start
to fret about my job. Can I find another? What kind of recommendation will I
get? This is the only project in Manzanillo.
"At this condo I drink another cup of coffee while trying to come
upon a solution, I think of calling them up and tell them that my aunt and uncle, Alicia and Hector, have decided to visit
friends, and of course take me. But that would make Howard suspect that there was no aunt and uncle here. He’ll then
insist on meeting them. Howard is not trusting and he gloats over uncovering lies. He says he must be able to trust the people
who work for him. A confession probably would mean my job. I am supposed to be
a team player. Not helping with a potential investor; it will probably be my
job. And Marge, I suspect would prefer me fired.
In her mind I am competitor. Maybe I could get someone to phone and pretend to be my uncle, and that they were. . .
, no that wont work."