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Monday, October 30, 2006

Part 2 of the Ballad of Arlene: A Spanish Romance

Disclaimer: The content in the 2nd half of this story is of a slightly risqué nature, especially to lip-celibates. I give it the rating of NC-12. All the immaturity you may find in the main character, I feel the need to apologize for, but goodness…if there wasn’t this immaturity then there’d be no story. Now allow me to pick up where I left off on a date in McDonald’s in Nicaragua with a girl I couldn’t even speak to.

The golden arches of the foreign lands shine like beckoning lights for our marvelous, gluttonous empire. The fanny-packing Americans gorging on fries assembled among themselves. I sat with Arlene. We had a 3rd party to our table; it was Fabian, a Nicaraguan friend of Arlene’s. He knew some considerable amount of English. The conversation was the slowest process. It consisted of basic small talk in slow motion. I would say, “What are you studying?” Then Fabian would repeat the question in Spanish, and she’d say something very long and with what seemed a whole lot of content. And then he’d turn to me and spill out a short phrase, “Hotel Management.” Next she’d say something which took 3 entire paragraphs to say, and Fabian would again revolve his head back to me and say, “What are your hobbies?” On and on it went. We barely made any headway at all. She sat exactly across from me. In the course of what seemed to be systematic intimacy between screens, our eyes would meet and perhaps a little more than words were communicated and the hints of some deeper truth were spoken. -But a truth altogether very vague. Perhaps, she could’ve been the most interesting person I had ever met. But you’d be surprised at how personalities are muffled by difficulties in communication. Languages are a thick fog that blocks whole nations from understanding other nations.

I sat there unable to penetrate that wall of differences. There is something in all admirations that are left unsaid, unworded, and untold. Entire impressions lay at the tail end of the tongue as it whips out its small talk….But this impression hides from the words that are being spoken. Every now and then it gleams in the eye, but in a split-second it’s flushed out again. No where was this more apparent then with Arlene. So much trouble…all because the mayor of Babel decided to build a tower…the idiot!

All the events of the date led up to an uncertain mist of confusion. I took this girl out, we chatted (or something like it), and there was a definite attraction on both sides. –But now what? I couldn’t even speak to her. So the VBS of the week resumed its circus-like task…Arlene returned to her duties as Bible teacher, I returned to my prestigious role as the Good Samaritan’s Donkey. I never thought that acting the ass could get the attention of a lady; as experience has taught me, acting the ass is one of the surest, if not the most fun of ways.

But I was nervous. Why or for what reason, I can’t say. With me, the pursuit of the female is tinged with shyness. My life is led through doing the most asinine feats in the face of the public; but let one single face out of that face…be pure, lovely, and eye-binding, and I cower in insecurity. So when seeing Arlene during the latter part of the week, my eyes would lower. My head would turn the other direction; my feet would stray from the slightest possibility of crossing her path. I felt wholly ridiculous about everything. And I am sure I was confusing the heck out of her.
I had a friend or a compadre with me on my travels. His name was Gantt. We would cut up, cause mischief, and have all types of good times. As the week ensued and it was well-known of my tete-tete with Arlene, he had this very annoying habit of making fun of the slightest imperfection in her looks. Arlene had this front tooth that was slanted somewhat sideways at a strange angle. Well, Gantt had a hay day making fun of this, anytime her name was brought up. It pushed me to anger and I threatened to fight him if he didn’t stop and the funny thing on looking back was that I actually meant it. That’s the only time that I recall ever threatening one of my own good friends, and hopefully the last. Not to mention it was on a mission trip. But we were all young and immature in those days. Even though, I’ve always been that immature type of passionate that still gets me into trouble these days.

The end of the week was approaching. I had just settled myself with the contentment of not saying anything more...to Arlene…what could I say? Whatever it was…I had to have an interpreter at hand. The awkwardness was overwhelming. On the crowded days our eyes might meet but there was always that mystery or entire frustration of what the other was thinking. And for a short while the female shadow that haunted me from the past was gone. But all in all..nothing practical could be instigated with this barrier of languages. I’m sure it mattered little to Arlene if I never said anything more. Besides, I’m just this stupid gringo with the impulsiveness and the hare-brained idea to draw her face, write her a letter, and take her to McDonald’s and with disconnected grunts and noises try to communicate our values and lives. Shame is what I felt. And shame is what I always sense while in the intimidating presence of beautiful women. And the only antidote is more and more distance. I was to fly out the next morning. The Thursday night’s are always emotionally driven. Hugs, adioses, and photograph-posing were all abounding. And then from the corner of this cement-church came Fabian looking for me telling me that Arlene had a departure gift that she wanted to give me.

Arlene, myself, and our trusty interpreter were alone…well, sort of, kind of. We stood in the vacant room adjoined to the chapel and the muddy courtyard area where all the kids roamed freely after the evening services with their coloring sheets and glass Coca-Cola bottles. There were no doors in this room. Doors, in Nicaragua, are a commodity. They use quilts instead. But they was no quilt either.

Arlene smiles and rambles something off in Espanol. Fabian intercepts the words and tosses them to me. I catch them, without fumbling, they are, “I am really going to miss you and I have some gifts for you to remember me by.”

I look at Fabian and then into her fiery-brown eyes. “Tell her the same, that I’m gonna miss her too, and I wish we could’ve gotten to know each other better.” This is passed through Senor language filter.

She hands me a mug shot of herself and little plastic letter that spell out her name and unleashes that familiar, yet incomprehensible language again. Fabian does his job in his usual strained English, “She says she wants to give you these so you remember her.”

I reply, “Muchas Gracias, I don’t need these to remember her by, but I am very happy to receive them.” We exchange our contact information. She was to be my far-off pen pal. Up to this point everything reminded me of perhaps what the first white settlers may have gone about trading beads with the Indians. -That is until she again spoke.

Without any change in his interpreting tone, Fabian, casually shot off her speech, “She says she wants you to kiss her now.”

My eyes widen, stuttering, “Wha- What? Here?! Right Now?!” I look around me; I think I recall a few kids passing by my elbow right when her wish was translated to me. The children pass out of the room; solitude encapsulates the scene. Arlene stands demurely like a goddess of love awaiting her sacrament. Fabian darts his head both ways and pronounces the answer to my whelping questions, “Yes, you better do it now.” Then he looks away as though not to ruin the moment for us.

A pause, that’s all that was needed to collect my thoughts and evoke my truest self to the forefront of this promiscuous and licentious situation. My willpower had to grasp the full emblem of what this deed would do and what I had to do …I was on a mission trip for crying out loud. I mean what false self and bald-faced lie would be representing if I didn’t acquiesce the requests of a fellow sister and make known the bonds of affection with the seal of a holy kiss? I was tempted very mightily to refrain…but this temptation didn’t last long. I mustered up the discerning powers of my conscience and puckered up and went in; my dutiful pilgrimage to this uncharted, unknown land with its soft crags and its hot, blushing shore.

I’ve never kissed a warmer kiss…a lava kiss. –And how can I be to blame if my pilgrimage turned more into a crusade? When I was the violated Arab? The only thing to do is just bear her violent mouth-lashings with dignity and maybe return a tooth for a tooth, or tongue for a tongue, or however that saying goes. I never knew the barrier of the English and Spanish languages could be hurdled over by the language of the French. For in that kiss all things left unstated were stated.

I broke away thinking that was appropriate and, of course, for air. –But she stood there looking at me with those gorgeous eyes stabbing into my light-headed gaze and yet I couldn’t leave her looking at me in such a way…I looked around, nobody except for Fabian, and then I looked into those dark almonds as they called me again. I followed and made a passionate revisit.

When I looked up a second time there was one of the American chaperones standing in the furthermost doorway with a grin on his face, giving me the thumbs up. I grinned back and said my final goodbyes.

3 weeks later, in the states, I start receiving mail from Nicaragua. This proved to be a whole another difficulty. Luckily I found this Mexican lady at church to translate all her letters for me. And the words that I received…I bet made her very curious. As the letter revealed, Arlene was a very amorous person. She told me things that you usually only tell people that you are married to. No, no…it was not perverse. It was just dearly romantic and gushing with sentimentality, (But I refuse to make her private letters public).
I would try writing her letters more toned down from her passionate talk. You know, I would write more about other things than about her. As common sense should reveal…there was little chance of us being together. Miles is not such a problem. But language is. I thought to befriend her and she was the best friend I had that couldn’t speak English. And I was getting to be certain that my point was coming across.

A year goes by and I found myself in Nicaragua again. So I look her up. This time resolute on not kissing her under any circumstances but just to be her friend. We hang out still trying desperately to communicate. All the Americans opt on going to McDonald’s again. So we tag along. After the meal, she’s to go back to her Tierra Prometida (Promised Land) and this is to be the last that I see her….a taxi is waiting on her. She leans over and kisses me on the cheek and then walks across the McDonald’s parking lot into the taxi and it drives back to the Promised Land from whence she came. I take the final note she gave me; it was coated in perfume and I immediately find someone to translate it. All I remember was the overall theme of the letter. It said, “ I will always love you.” I fell back on my hotel bed in an agitated swoon. “Why??? Is it only because I’m American” I was pretty cynical about her special liking for me.

How can I be blamed for this? I didn’t plan for this. My luck is that she is really my one and only soulmate for this life but it was never realized because of the language barrier. And do not think that I do not every now then have the crazy idea to rush down there to marry her. To live the blessed, simple life in a tin-roof hovel and count how many different ways we can make love in a hammock. We would have tons and tons of dark-brown eyed children with bright blonde-hair and they would all be barefooted, but so happy and sublime…playing, laughing, and skipping in the dirty roads of the Promised Land.


Blogger Brian Harrison said...

For the few readers I have left on this site.....I've been writing mostly for my facebook account. Some friends and I got together this sort of story series where we take turns telling great dating stories. Kind of like the Canterbury Tales. That is the reason why i posted this long story about my travels in Nicaragua. And why I may have more stories delving into similiar romances.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Ken Haynes said...

So what is link to the facebook site? Enjoying your writing....

8:19 AM  
Blogger Brian Harrison said...

Thanks, facebook is a site for people who have nothing better to do but sit around and see what so and so is doing.(which is what the entire college world is into). You would have to set up your own account to get to mine and the others that contribute to these story series. To create your own account its at simply, facebook.com

10:44 AM  

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