Getting it right, finally

MY FIRST TWO marriages failed, and maybe it was because of how I proposed to those wives. I don’t recall how I did it the first time though I do remember why. That was over half a century ago. But I do remember how I did it the second time.

We were in a restaurant on Westheimer Boulevard in Houston. I did not get down on one knee. I did not have a ring lurking in a champagne flute. There was no music. The waiters did not sing ‘O Sole Mio. I told her we should get married so she could get on my employer-provided medical insurance. She had no coverage.

She swooned. I was such a romantic guy.

We had been living together at that point for seven years.

Perhaps if ObamaCare had existed, we never would have wed, and I would have been spared lots of pain, grief and expense.

By the third time, I had learned, matured, wised up and sobered up.

I did get down on my knee, and I did have a ring. And where did I do it? Where these two pre-Hispanic pyramids join, right there at their base. You see it early in the video, the V between the two structures. That’s where it happened about 18 years ago.

And medical insurance had nothing to do with it.

A night in Santo Domingo

sunrise

I’VE BEEN IN lots of brothels: Port-au-Prince, Haiti. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, Mexico. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Barcelona, Spain.*

But I’ve never purchased the principal product, just the secondary, alcohol. I came close once,  however. A booze-fueled, Caribbean night in Santo Domingo.

I related this story years ago on a former website, but it’s vanished. If you remember, be aware that some details may differ. It’s been a long time.

Some things are fun to repeat, and I’m a fun fellow.

It started one morning at the airport bar in New Orleans. My traveling companion was an old French friend from years earlier. We’d met in the Air Force in California.

(Trivia: Sitting two stools down from me at the airport bar was Kris Kristofferson, but I pretended not to notice him. I was cool like that.)

We continued drinking on the plane, and by the time we landed in Santo Domingo we were well-oiled. We rented a car and drove to a downtown hotel. As night fell, we hired a taxi driver to take us to the brothel zone, which he did.

(More trivia: Dominican hookers were the most beautiful I ever saw, far outstripping the international competition from my experience. Just so you know.)

We continued drinking. My French friend partook of the wares but I, as always, took a pass. Sex that way has never interested me. Going to brothels was a sociological experience and a very fascinating one. But the night wore on, and I drank more.

And, Lordy, they were lovely.

Around 3 a.m., the two of us walked out the front door to hunt another taxi. At my shoulder I noticed a cute working girl who’d tailed us. She wanted to come along. I said yes, so we three took a cab to a restaurant and ate.

After eating, we caught another cab to the hotel. Somewhere along the line, I had decided to abandon my hands-off approach. We entered the hotel lobby, the three of us, but the hotel’s security man stopped us. Not the girl, he said.

My friend headed up to the room, and my companion and I walked back outside. Habitual drinkers, which I was at the time, can reach a state in which they’re quite ambulatory, steady even, but completely plowed at the same time. I was there.

We got into the rental car, and she gave me directions to “a place I know.” It turned out to be an old, two-story, wooden hotel on the beach highway. It’s about 4 a.m.

Things get foggy now. I recall entering the hotel. The girl was walking just ahead of me up a broad stairway. Behind me was a man, a hotel employee, I suppose. I suddenly got wary of the situation, suspecting I was going to be robbed or worse.

I changed my mind.

As we entered the room, I told the girl I had left something in the car and that I’d be right back. I turned on my heel, headed out the door, bounced down the stairs and leaped into the car. But she was right behind me. She didn’t want me to leave her there.

Okay, I said. Jump in. But she had left her shoes in the room upstairs. Go get them, I said. But you’ll leave, she replied, accurately. This exchange continued for a few rounds till I started to drive off. She ran around and jumped into the car without her shoes.

We pulled out onto the moonlit highway while she yelled, My shoes! My shoes! I braked and pulled over, opened my door, walked around to the other side, opened her door and attempted to pull her out. She grabbed the steering wheel. I could not extract her painlessly, so I gave up, returned to the other side and continued down the highway.

Twenty or so minutes later, we entered a downtown plaza. There was a parked police car, and two cops stood on the sidewalk. The girl stuck her head out the window and began yelling which, of course, caught the officers’ attention.

Deciding not to make a run for it, I just pulled over.

The girl got out and spoke to the police. We ended up driving back to the hotel. The girl and I led the way, and the police car followed. When we arrived at the hotel, she walked upstairs to retrieve her shoes while I and the smiling cops waited.

She returned wearing her shoes and told me to give the police some money, which I did, not wanting trouble and thinking myself lucky so far. The officers drove off, and I did too, with my companion. I offered to take her home, an idea she liked.

Ever the gentleman. It was the least I could do.

She lived in a low-rent area, of course. As we pulled up to her humble home, she asked, still hoping for some cash, if I’d like to come in. I said no, and asked how old she was. After so many years, I forget what she told me, but it was 16 or so.

As I headed alone back to the hotel, the sun was rising.

And I remain to this day a whorehouse virgin.

* * * *

* This was unintentional. My second wife and I entered, sat at the bar and ordered drinks before it became clear where we were. We did finish the drinks.

(A Christmas Eve brothel in San Juan. Plus another romance on the road, also a true story.)

The shopping trip and memories

church

THIS IS THE Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. It’s the most spectacularly colorful church I’ve ever seen. My child bride says there’s one just as impressive or better in Oaxaca, but I’ve never set foot in Oaxaca.

This photo doesn’t do it justice. I took it with my cell, having left my camera at the Hacienda when we visited the State Capital today, mostly for shopping and eating.

We ate lasagna. Then we visited the Modern Art Museum. Following that, we walked across the street, under an ancient aqueduct, and a block farther to this church.

We sat a spell.

Then we walked another block to a long, tree-lined pedestrian street full of old Spanish Colonial buildings, some of which are collapsing but some are restored and beautiful. We sat on a stone bench, and I shot the next photo.

phone
This is not a black-and-white photo.

We were less than two blocks from where I lived above a garage after arriving in Mexico in January of 2000. Square in the middle of this photo, you can see the back of a phone booth that’s been there at least 20 years, and who knows how much longer?

Maybe the Conquistadors installed it.

I had a Mexico City girlfriend before moving down here. We’d met on Match.com, and she’d already visited me twice in Houston before I retired youngish and moved south. She was 50 years old at the time but still a real babe. Some women can do that. Her mother was Mexican, and her father was a Spaniard. It mixed well in her, believe me.

Almost every night during the four months I lived above that garage just down the street, I walked to this phone booth and called her. The relationship did not pan out, and a year later we went our separate ways. Just as well because she was not as agreeable as the child bride I ended up with, who is also a real babe. Some women age well.

Then we stood up and headed to Costco and Walmart.

Summer is a good time

aloe
The aloe vera that soon will be larger than the house.

SUMMER STARTED a week ago officially, but it actually started hereabouts some weeks back, the real summer. When it started to rain.

I was walking up the Romance Sidewalk this morning when I noticed a hummingbird sitting casually on one of the aloe vera spikes. He didn’t seem concerned about anything much, and why should he? There are blooms to be sucked. Plenty of them.

Hummingbirds are brave, not much put off by people nearby, and this guy was like that, but he didn’t stick around while I retrieved my camera.

elyssum
Sweet alyssum barely holds on over the winter, but rain revives it quickly.

Cool, wet, sometimes sunny days are the norm till October or so.

I never walked up a Romance Sidewalk or any sidewalk in Houston all those years I lived there and spotted a hummingbird sitting on a huge aloe vera.

I never wore a flannel shirt in late June or long pants except to go to work. It was very different then, and it’s better now, especially not having to work at all.

But I’d prefer being younger, just a little bit.

bell
Ivy sneaks through the bell hole from the other side where it mostly covers every inch.