Carlos

People ask me “What do you do on those long 8 hour+ driving marathons with no one to talk to?”  I think, I reflect, and I listen to books on CD’s; last one being White Fang by Jack London, or I listen to music.

One of my favorites is Canciones de Mi Padre by Linda Ronstadt.  I play it over and over.  I love the songs and rhythms, I try to catch all the Spanish, and I remember the wonderful time I had when I was an exchange student in Los Mochis, Mexico.

“Hay unos ojos que si me miran

Hacen que mi alma tiemble de amor

Son unos ojos tan primorosos

Ojos mas lindos no he visto yo.”

Los Mochis is in Sinaloa on the west coast of Mexico north of Puerta Vallarta.  If you look west across the Sea of Cortes you’ll see La Paz.  Whales come there to give birth and raise their babies.

My time living there was one of the happiest of my youth.  Each day after school a bunch of us would walk to someone’s house and dance.  I love to dance and unlike my anglo peers at home, latino guys love to dance and are terrific dancers.  Since I was a “novelty”–blond, blue eyes etc., I never lacked for partners.

“Ay!” quien pudiera mirarase en ellos

“Ay!” quien pudiera besarlos mas

Cozandos siempre de sus destellos

Y no ovidarlos nunca jamas.”

Carlos was a year older than we were and went to another school.  I didn’t get to know him until later, but knew of him.  He was  very popular and highly regarded in the community; an outstanding student.  He acted as translator for the banquet held in honor of my classmate (a guy) and I.

Carlos was handsome; tall, well built, “ojos negros,” with lashes that would make a starlet weep.  He had a lovely smile and would listen very carefully when one of the visiting gringos would attempt to talk to him in Spanish and then he would respond in English to their question.

“Y todos dicen que no te quiero

Que no te adoro con frenesi

Y yo les digo que mienten, mienten

Que hasta la vida daria por ti”

I returned to my highschool in California for the last semester of my senior year.  I heard from my Spanish teacher that Carlos would be visiting at our highschool and would I show him around and make him feel welcome.  Of course, I would.  I don’t remember spending as much time with him as I should have but his host family took good care of him.  I saw him in classes and at Spanish Club events and that was about it.    Like most seniors, I was wrapped up in graduation, summer work plans, and college in the very near future.

I invited Carlos to go to the Senior Prom with me.   In those days proms were held in the gym.  There were no after-parties–at least none I knew about!  I picked him up.  He looked wonderful–jacket, white shirt and tie.   I don’t recall my prom dress but it was probably something I had made.  When we got there the gym had been trasformed into a ball room with a slowly revolving disco ball, its mirrored surface scattering bright prisms of light throughout the darkened room.  The D.J. was playing the top tunes of the time.  “Ooo ee, ooo ee, baby, won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?”

Carlos took my right hand and folded it into his and held them tightly to his chest; his other arm encircled my waist pulling me close so that our bodies touched.  My left arm rested on his shoulder, my hand touching the base of his neck.  We began to dance.

It didn’t matter which song was playing–a fast one or a slow one–we just changed our tempo and kept moving around the floor in perfect unity.  His cheek was warm against mine; we didn’t talk, we just danced.  I have never danced with a better partner.

When the prom ended, I took him back to his host family’s home and we said good bye.  I don’t think I saw him again.    That fall I left for college.  On winter break I visited my Spanish teacher, Mrs. Acosta, and asked her if she had heard from Carlos.

“Si,” she said, “He has joined the church.”

I thought, “Those Jesuits recruited a great dancer.”  “Que lastima!”

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