Hogan’s Hero

I pulled over at Cafetal because I spotted 72 y/o Hogan sitting in there all alone.  He is my friend for no particular reason.  I mean that in an altruistic sort of way.  I think he is originally from Ohio.  He’s the type of guy that appreciates a guy like me.  We chatted for a good 20 minutes. He was real happy to see me and let it be known.  The big news out of Camp Hogan was that he quit smoking after 50 years.  My advice to him was Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers.

I told him that I was just now heading home from a long morning helping out an old lady.  Hogan wanted to know what she needed help with.  The better question would have been why was I helping out an old lady.  Needless, I began by saying that for three straight months, three mornings per week, without missing even one day,  I have been visiting her at her house for no particular reason.  You know, one thing lead to another which lead to twelve others.

Hogan smiled and told me that was pretty altruistic of me.  I needed a definition.  He gave me one.  His definition made more than just sense, it made a believer out of me.  I lost myself momentarily as I pieced a few more ironies and coincidences together.  Yet another signal that was attached to a meaning that had latched onto an omen that once again was reminding me to stay the course and keep my eye on the prize.  Life was whispering.  I was listening.

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Plagued

So far as we were capable of telling, she wore the exact same thing every single day.  Without fail, she always had the mustard colored tank top and faded blue jean combo going.  Morning, Noon, & Night.  The faded blue jean thing we could understand.  For it was winter in the tropics, and just because us Gringos only wore board shorts 16/7, doesn’t mean that everybody else does or should.

Perhaps she rotated her faded blue jeans the way you or I might rotate our socks or underwear.  That we got.  The mustard tank top had us twisted, but giggling for more.  We were both quick to remember the Seinfeld episode with the beautiful girl that only wore the black and white dress.  We kinda sorta toyed with the idea of sneaking into her room to see with our own eyes whether or not she had dozens of them in her closet.

She had long, curly brown hair down to the lower part of her back.  Every time she walked by us, she would look our way, smile genuinely, and say hola.  The best night of our recent lives was when she approached the chain linked fence and asked if she could borrow a machete.  We just melted.  The second best night of our recent lives was when she asked if one of us had a crescent wrench she could borrow to fix something on her scooter.  We almost died.

She was beautiful  She is beautiful.  We were in love.  We are in love.

This past Tuesday, we had the chess table set down in the garden area so that the blazing afternoon sun wouldn’t affect our competitive outcome.  During crunch time, we both noticed Julia at the exact same time.  She was walking our way.  We both smiled from ear to ear, and we both said hola at the exact same time.  Noonan!  Of course she said hola back.

She then looked me square in the eye and asked, “Are you going to be at La Punta later?”  I knew the question was directed at me because she knew that I lived on La Punta, and like I said, she was looking me square in my God Damned eyes.  Without any hesitation, and with my most champion sound, I answered, “Yes, for sunset, are you going to be there too?”  She said Yes.  I said that I would see her later.  She left.

When she got out of sight, I tipped my King and shouted Yahtzee.  It was 4:30pm. I jammed home on my moto.  I needed a shower and a change of bathing suits.

At 5:30 or thereabouts, I walked from my apartment down to the beach.  I took the back roads.  Regrettably, I chose not to wear shoes or a shirt.  Supposedly, I wore my lucky SeaGlass Medallion around my neck.

I scanned the area for a pretty girl in a mustard colored tank.  I didn’t see her.  I decided to walk left.  It was the the right decision.  From about 75 yards away, a woman in a bikini waved to me.  It was her.  She saw me first.  Yikes!  This was really on.

When I got up to her I noticed a couple things right off the bat.  She was in a black, string bikini, and she was even more adorable up close.  Extra unassuming.  Super natural.  Soft spoken.  Cute as a button.  I sat in the sand next to her.  I knew that she spoke better English than I did Spanish.  That is bueno.  In light of that, I also knew that much of what I would say stood a solid chance at being misinterpreted and/or lost in translation.

My manner of speaking, for better or for worse, has become quite fragmented with random tongue & cheek isms.  I can’t help it any longer.  It’s not for everyone.  At times, it can hardly be for anyone.

As predicted, there were plenty of words that I said that she didn’t understand, and there were plenty of words that she wanted to say but didn’t know the word.  I suppose there were some awkward moments, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The sun was still warm, so I decided to have a quick dip in the ocean.  The water felt great.  I stayed in for about five minutes.  The sun had another 20 minutes before it would disappear for the night.

I found out she is 30 years old, despite looking like she is 20.  I found out she is single.  I found out that she was born in Paris.  I found out her mother is French and her father is Mexican.  I found out she went to school and began a career in the high fashion industry.  I found out her father is a popular actor in DF.  I found out that she would like to be able to stay in Puerto Escondido, but that she is taking one day at a time.  I found out that she was here to “clear her head”.

I started to itch.  Then I really started to itch.  I noticed big welts appearing on my skin.  Julia noticed them too.  Between the sand fleas and the ‘malagua’, I began breaking out with hives.  If Julia wasn’t there, I would have been completely out of there in a heartbeat.  But she was there.  And she was so sweet, and so beautiful, that I just had to carry on despite the irritations.

I told her about this extra top secret bit of business that I am working on right now that is certain to forever change my life in the very near future.  She wanted to know more.  I told her that I have been sworn to secrecy.  She didn’t press me for the information, but I felt that I had captured her attention and imagination.  She also seemed to be pretty relaxed.  I saw a tiny opening and took it.

“Hey Julia, this isn’t easy for me to do, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but I would like to take you out for a nice dinner sometime soon.  Would that be OK?”

She definitely didn’t deny my request, but she also didn’t say Yes with too much enthusiasm either.  She wanted to know if we were going as friends.  I knew that was a tricky question to answer because she wasn’t really even my friend.  She wanted to know if there was any agenda behind my desire to have dinner with her.  I began wishing that I never said a fucking thing.  My skin was absolutely ballooning on me.  Life was backfiring.  I tried to stay present.  Stuff felt awkward.  I must have had 99 welts.

I was unsure what to do.  I told her that I had 99 reasons why I had to leave the beach.  I tried to button up my dinner request by asking whether we should plan on something or play it by ear.  She didn’t understand what playing it by ear meant.  I thought about a different way to say it, but couldn’t.  The fact was that both my ears became so fucking itchy, that I wished I didn’t have any ears to play anything by.

She said that she needed to leave too.  She asked me if I wanted to get a lemonade.  Who drinks lemonade I thought?  I said Yes, but meant No.  As we were walking off the beach, I stepped on a Zicatela Thorn.  The same style thorn that laid me up for a good month in September.  This one pierced my second toe, but I knew it wasn’t going to be any kind of severe injury.  I still said a few God Damnits.  Julia showed concern.  I was no longer present.

We sat down at Morros.  She ordered the pineapple, guayaba, alfalfa juice.  I ordered the same.  It was 7pm.  The mosquitos were out.  She put on her faded blue jeans and mustard colored tank.  I sat there barefoot, with no shirt, with my ‘unlucky’ medallion hanging off my neck, and got eaten alive by mosquitos.

We both finished our juice at the same time.  She wrestled for some change while I paid the bill.   She tried to give me her money.  I refused.  We walked out on the dirt street, and waited for a cab to take her home.  I stood on a medium sized ant hill for about 60 seconds before I felt anything.  In a swollen instant, I was ON complete FIRE.

Get me the fuck out of here!!! I kissed her on the cheek and told her that it would be a good idea on her part if she took me up on my dinner offer.  I wasn’t around to hear her reply.

When I got home, I looked in the mirror.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Between the Sand Fleas, the Malagua, the Mosquitos, the Thorn, the Black Ants, and Julia, my body was riddled in red.  I took a cold shower.  It was 8pm, and I knew I had a 1500 word story to tell.