Monday, May 13, 2013

missed connections

This is the story of how I came on to a Mexican man.  The story takes place in Varadero, where we went on a family trip just a couple weeks ago. It was day two of eight, which is important to note because usually this type of shit only happens towards the end, which sort of makes going home exciting since all you want to do is escape the mess you’ve made...but this time it happened at the beginning, making the rest of the trip exciting in the way you might be excited to know that someone is coming for you with a knife.  

It was dinner time, and we were hungry. The three of us (myself, my mom, and my sister) arrived at the restaurant and, as usual, began looking for an unoccupied table.  Sure, the regular tables were free: the ones directly in front of the freshly produced cutlery bin that smells like hot retainers; the table at the very entrance of the restaurant which serves as a visual display of tonight’s menu for every person who walks through the main doors (“Oh look, she got the beef. It’s beef night. Oh, oh and beside her beef…I knew it- the paella’s out. Look, Randy, paella.”) Then there are the deserted tables surrounding diarrhea-covered families comprised of wailing children and their seemingly-deaf parents, and the tables that, for some deeply mysterious reason are just never cleaned.  So, what do we have left? The coveted tables by the windows. 
And, suddenly, I spot one: a perfectly clean, unoccupied table by the window and out of children’s harm’s way, with a little red carnation in the middle in a little white vase.  Let me just preface the next part with: all of this really happened. I’m not making this up.

I quickly walk over to this table  (it’s maybe 8 feet away) illuminated by the heavens above, and pull out the chair in front of me. Right at that moment, a tall blonde woman violently enters my line of vision, sprints towards this very table, and SITS IN THE CHAIR. She waves at someone and, momentarily, a tall guy comes over and sits in the chair across from her. They start unfolding their napkins and I just stare at them, my hand still on the back of the chair, so stunned by the situation that I am literally catatonic.  Then I turn to look at my sister who, just like me, is looking like a taxidermied squirrel (complete with frozen look of bewilderment), and then we both turn to look at my mom who is standing back there, 8 feet away, looking like this:

We sat at some random table, between the cutlery and diarrhea, and everyone was quiet, and then my mom was all “I can’t even believe this shit” and I was all “FOR REALZ” because by now we were feeding off each other’s anger, and then we were quiet some more and then she said what I was really, really hoping she’d say: “I’m gonna go talk to them.  They can’t get away with that.”
And that, online friends, is where everything truly went wrong. 

We were on our way to the buffet area when my mom suddenly sped up and marched towards the stolen table.  My sister, in typical fashion, looked away pretending she was but a lost bystander, and I, in typical fashion, bit the inside of my right cheek.  What wrath would my mother lay on these shameless hooligans? I couldn’t wait to hear it. And…then…this happened:

My mom:  $#$*&^@%!
Woman: ??
My mom: You don’t speak Russian?
Woman: ??
My mom (to man): Where are you from?
Man: Mexico..
My mom (now to me): Ohhh, okay. *wink*

WHAT????  A WINK??   WHY WHY WHY??? And what happens next??  I could do nothing but look at the couple, who had put down their utensils and were now looking up at us with Mexican confusion, and then looked at my mom…and winked back. Apparently, when failing to produce an adequate original thought, my brain felt that copying my mom's inexplicable gesture was the next best thing. So, there was the original inquisition, then there was an exchange of winking, and then, there was me pivoting on my heels and walking away, my mom and sister following. We were officially the three musketeers of failure.  (Take THIS, jerks! Nobody steals OUR table! Where are you from? WINK! the buffet, comrades!) 

I passed the deviled eggs, and circled the trays of canned carrots, but nothing enticed me: all I could think about was the awkwardness that we had created. I felt incomplete. I had unfinished business. I knew I could've said something better, something more poignant, something zingy, something to make them think twice about stealing people's seats like that. I stuck a fork into the tower of tuna, but it just didn't feel right.  Just then, my mom walked up to me and said: "Let it go. Be the bigger person." 

And, you know what? I'm trying. I'm trying to let it go, but all I can hear is the sound of our eyelids flapping in a nightmarish recollection of our obscure winking. I must fix this. Still, I should be the bigger person. I will just scoop up some tomatoes, and I will be the bigger person. Grab a little rice and be the bigger person. Oh look it's ice cream I love ice cream be the bigger person oh my gosh is that sprinkles? how did they... be the bigger person be the bigger person. Suddenly, I see them, standing in the line for fried beef, probably preparing to swoop in and scoop the next person's portion into their pants. Something overcomes me- call it adrenaline, or maybe I'm just ghetto.  Something overpowers all of my reasoning, and I robotically walk over to them, except I don't know what to say, and the woman just happens to be distracted by a recently-materialized platter of moldy cheeses, so it's just the man looking at me now, and so I, with every ounce of courage in my shaking body, contort my face into the shape of what I think is a dirty look.  I start by looking down at his feet, then slowly draw my eyes up, squinting the left one, and smiling in the way I once saw DeNiro smile at someone he had very little respect for. You know, like a half smile that's kinda like "keep the change, you filthy animal".

But also with..

I told you. I don't know what is happening to me at this point.

The man's expression shows little recognition as he stares back at me, so I decide to drop my gaze back down, only to realize that I have officially completed what is called the Elevator Scan. Omg barf.  All of this is happening really, really slowly, and I'm walking by him with the fluidity of an interpretive dancer (I do not know why), and finally, the man can no longer hide his confusion/fear/arousal(?) and says, quite loudly:


I passed him, then I passed the chicken station, then the waiters, then I walked past the front doors, and out of the restaurant. It suddenly became clear to me that I had managed to both harass and hit on an innocent man who clearly had only arrived at the original scene to find his wife lovingly sitting at a table waiting for him, while a strange Russian family touched the back of her chair in silence.
The rest of the week was a mix of terror and dread. Each time we passed each other at the buffet, I burst into a tiny fire. There was no explaining any of our collective behaviour- it was a stew of anger, multiculturalism, and perhaps even one-sided arousal. The best scenario I could hope for was him thinking I was crazy. Crazy in love, maybe, or just the kind of crazy you might get knowing that someone stole your table. I'd gladly take the latter.

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