South of the BorderbyBenLong©
My apologies in advance to all of you who are fluent in Spanish; I am not. Although I have tried to convey what happened and what was said as faithfully as possible, it's possible I've put something in that technically doesn't make sense. Hopefully the intent comes through.
I hope you enjoy the story, and when you get to the end, please take time to click one of the stars that registers how well you liked it. On average, only one in 200 bothers to vote -- please take time and be that one.
It's always the eyes.
Introductions don't tell you anything. A smile, a shake of the hand, cordial voices -- that's just being polite. But walk into a cocktail party, step into an elevator, pass a woman on the street -- when your eyes meet -- there is no denying it. A young, beautiful woman is sure of herself. She knows what you have and what she has are a matching set. And you, as a red-blooded male, would jump at the chance of putting those matched sets together.
If she's young and innocent and you're about her age, and if she doesn't have some rock dragging her left hand to the ground, chances are good the eyes are saying, "Why don't you come on over and say hello?" If she's not so young, the same age doesn't necessarily mean so much; why else are we hearing so much about cougars these days?
Her eyes may tell you that she is taken, but she'll be civil; or, that she's interested, or not; or that you just aren't her type, even though she's never met you. It all comes down to eye contact. No matter how friendly the handshake, no matter how pleasant the "hello," it's all about the eye contact.
Does everyone understand this simple concept? Let's have a count here, all those that disagree? Ah yes... always at least one, two... Ok, so much for the "no's," and now, those that agree?
It's confirmed, the "Eyes" have it.
It was the last day of the project, at least for me. I'd answered the call and walked away from my pending summer vacation to help solve the problems, and luckily they'd been minor. Puebla, Mexico, a scant 80 miles from Mexico City, is a world away from the United States. I had been absorbed into a multi-national team; I had Swiss, Swedish, Finnish and German coworkers, as well as some local help.
The differences between my co-workers and I were minor -- mostly about 20 years on the average. I'd been married, they hadn't. I went back to the hotel at night, solved problems and sent e-mails while they went to the local bars to chase skirts; at least one had hooked up with a local girlfriend. For the most part, I wasn't interested in chasing skirts or getting drunk, although I've done some of that in the past. I remembered well the things the "old man" used to say to us, back when I was one of the kids. Now, I was the "old man," making the project easier, passing on the experiences learned at the School of Hard Knocks to the "new kids".
But, it was Friday, and I was leaving on a mid-morning flight Saturday, to return to my re-scheduled, well deserved, time off. With the project accomplished, there was no reason not to go out and play -- so I succumbed to their teasing and agreed to go along.
The boys had found the local "happening" club long before; they'd been going nearly every night. It was just a fifteen minute taxi ride from the hotel; that is if you can call it a ride. "Get in, sit down, hang on and pray" was more like it. There was a seat belt, singular, as in ½ of a matched pair - for the three of us in the back and one in the front. The car itself had seen some hard usage and more than one minor fender bender but, miraculously, we arrived unscathed. I knew we were arriving when we got close; the beat of the music could be heard from a block away.
The bouncer greeted the boys with a knowing nod of recognition but checked their ID's anyway. For some reason that I can't fathom, he didn't check my ID. Go figure.
It didn't take long to acclimate my eyes once inside. It wasn't that much darker than the dusk outside. The dance floor was already teeming with life, but my boys told me "just wait, it gets really crazy later."
I bought the first round of drinks; some watery semblance of a beer called "Sol" seemed to be the local favorite. I wasn't impressed, but the point seemed to be more to have something in your hands so I took one. We crowded around a stand-up table, the crowd milling around us, the fetchers wandering back from the bar with hands full of beer bottles, their skimpy dress designed to entice some not-so-skimpy tips. Pretty, Spanish speaking girls with sultry eyes flirted with the guys at our table; all the guys, that is, except for me.
It has been several years since I realized those 18 year old hotties - that were out to prove they were now adults and could raise an erection on a dead man - were no longer interested in me. On the other hand, I wasn't blind, either. If they wanted to show that they were adult, had the body to prove it, and were readily doing so, why shouldn't I look?
I can't remember how many years it has been since I expected that a smile at a sweet young thing and buying her a beer would get me anywhere, but it was interesting to see my younger compatriots doing just exactly that. A seemingly endless stream of young Mexican señoritas stopped by the table to say "Hola, que tal?" to "my boys". Sometimes I was introduced, but most of the time they didn't know their names either.
The music was loud enough that it was hard to have a conversation at all, but with English being the only common language, and the girls not extremely proficient in it, most of the time communication was more the nonverbal type. It had to do with smiling, offering a beer, fingers touching fingers, a hand on an arm, or asking a girl to dance -- where she understood the gesture to the dance floor more than the words themselves. This gave him an opportunity to place a hand in the small of her back, or more likely between her shoulders. And then once on the dance floor, the communication turned more into bumping and grinding, sultry looks, hands on waists drifting down to sexy bottoms. From there the hands were intercepted and moved back to waists or perhaps elsewhere, or perhaps not. In some cases the bodies closed the gap between them; touching, hands traveling elsewhere, acknowledging the physiological response of the closeness and the possibility that perhaps something more would happen later.
I was perfectly happy being entertained by partaking in one of my favorite pastimes: people watching. The "dressed to seduce" sweet young señoritas that kept coming and going through my field of vision were pleasant to look at, but with no interest in me on their part, it was like thumbing through a girly calendar; pretty to look at but there's another one on the next page, so they really didn't hold my attention for long. I was about through the first bottle of watery cerveza, thinking of getting something perhaps a bit more adult, when our eyes met. Like I said, it's always the eyes.
My vision had moved on from the local eye candy to examining the other people in the room. The ground floor was crowded with beer drinkers to the left and a crowded dance floor to the right. On the far side of the room, stairs rose to a balcony with a bar and seats overlooking the dance floor that ran the length of the balcony. Behind the upstairs bar tables lined the wall.
It was nearly as crowded above as it was below, the main difference being there just wasn't enough room for dancing above. But then again, the dancing below was more just moving with the beat, a chance to rub sexy bodies together; there wasn't room for real dancing.
My eyes swept the balcony, examining the people. I wasn't looking for anyone in particular, just looking. I evaluated what I was seeing as my eyes slowly traveled the room from table to table; a group of half a dozen girlfriends, pretty obviously waiting for boyfriends as they weren't on the hunt; next a couple of boys, hitting on a couple of girls -- a totally different dynamic than if they were already couples. Even from where I was watching the pick-up attempts, I could tell the guys were bragging, strutting, just trying to get the acceptance of the girls. The girls were giggling, playing shy. I smiled to myself, remembering the days when that was me. I was never good at the pick-up scene. The memories of getting shot down greatly outnumber the successful forays. My eyes moved a bit further, and there she was, looking at me.
How is it that in a room of maybe three to four hundred people, that I knew she was looking at me? Why is it that when my eyes met hers from 50 meters away, there was no doubt? I don't know how, but I did. Just as I knew that the first table I had seen was full of girls waiting for boyfriends, and the next table was a group of guys hitting on single girls, I knew that this woman was watching me.
She didn't move, she didn't acknowledge me; she just kept looking at me looking at her. My eyes kept hers for just a moment as I moved on, but when I finished my sweep, coming back across the crowded balcony, her head nodded, barely perceptibly, as my eyes found hers again. I argued to myself that she wasn't really nodding to me, but I knew better.
I couldn't tell how old she was, only that, just like me, she was obviously more mature than the youngsters around us. Maybe 30, 32? 40 or 42? I couldn't tell from this distance. She appeared to be quite pleasant to look at, but seated behind the balcony bar, most of her body was hidden and it was difficult to tell. Although not one of the twenty something eye-candies, she'd definitely caught my eye.
She had a hand on a bottle of beer, which even from the distance I recognized had the same label as the bottle of piss-water I had in my hand, and she was in no hurry to drink it down. I glanced down again at my beer. I still had half a bottle, but I wasn't really interested in lowering it any further.
My coworkers were all ready to start their second round, so I headed for the bar again myself. Elbowing my way over, I ordered another round for my guys, as well as the sweet young thing, who for the last 15 minutes had been quite engrossed in my Danish compatriot, and a glass of Shiraz for me. The beers came immediately. I picked them up and took them to the table before returning for the wine. As I turned back, I glanced up again. The lady on the balcony still had a barely touched the bottle of beer in front of her. It dawned on me that she probably wasn't nursing the beer; she just wasn't appreciating it any more than I was. I wondered who she was with; no girlfriend sitting next to her, no visible male; she appeared to be alone, but why would she have ordered a beer that she didn't really like? Maybe because she didn't order it?
When the bartender slid the glass of wine toward me, I stretched my vocabulary and changed the order. "Uno mas. Dos vino, por favor." I held up two fingers to emphasize what I wanted, pointing at the full glass just to make sure he understood. Moments later I had a second glass in hand and the tab paid. I didn't return to the table. I was sure the guys could care less as to where I was or what I was doing, other than that they appreciated the beers and being gone meant one more spot for a pretty señorita to take.
The crowd slowly parted as I moved toward the stairway. I glanced up to see if she was still watching me; she wasn't. Her gaze was moving around the far side of the room, as if looking for someone. Was it presumptuous to think it was me? Although her eyes hadn't been off me any time I'd looked up earlier, somehow when I moved to the bar she lost track of me. Apparently not thinking to look on the balcony as I approached, she never saw a thing until I slid into the narrow space beside her and placed the glass of wine in front of her, pressing the stem against her fingers. Surprised, she looked over at me, recognition dawning in her eyes. "Para los niño's," I said, taking her beer bottle from her hand and setting it aside. Whereas before I'd stretched my vocabulary, now I almost exhausted it. Besides "Donde esta el bano?" and "Uno mas cerveza, por favor," I was about out of conversational Spanish. Switching to English I finished my pick up line; "Beautiful women should drink good wine." I had no idea whether she understood the words, but hoped she understood the intent.
"Gracias," she said with a smile, followed by a question that I had absolutely no clue what it was, except that it was a question.
"I'm sorry, no hablo espanol. Hablo Inglés?" I knew enough to put the accent on the correct syllable, but that was about it.
She shook her head, a disappointed look on her face. Just then the couple on the opposite side of her got up to leave. She said something to them, and when they answered she immediately indicated that I should take the chair next to her.
Just being close had allowed me to better assess the woman who had accepted my glass of wine. Not as young as I'd thought from below, I'd refined the assessment to late thirties, maybe low 40's. Except for the bar management, I'd guess we were the oldest two in the whole place. From up close, no longer blocked from view by the bar, it was also hard not to recognize that she was heavily endowed. Not that she was fat; she actually had a pretty nice body from what I could see -- but with very large breasts.
A satiny blue blouse was form fitted over her rounded breasts, a "u" shaped neck exposing the tops to view. A lacy pattern from her bra was outlined through the material where it was pulled tight across her bust, black bra straps weren't even partly covered by the blue spaghetti straps of her blouse. A see through black lace cover-up was worn over top of everything, making the view of her cleavage all the more enticing. I wondered if she understood how her clothing was advertising as much as I did. Surely she did, everything about her dress was designed to entice the eye to her bosom.
Stylish white jeans rounded out the ensemble, and her bottom, rounded out on the chair where she was sitting, filled them quite nicely. She definitely wasn't skinny, and she definitely wasn't a kid, either. My eyes hadn't deceived me from below; she was my kind of sexy.
I slid into the chair, holding out my hand to her. "Steve," I said, then remembering my Spanish equivalent added, "Esteban." She smiled and took my proffered hand. Her hand slid into mine easily, her fingers cool to the touch, yet the feeling of electricity was unmistakable.
"Maria," she introduced herself in return.
Now what the hell was I going to say? Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't going to be in Spanish. At least I thought it wasn't. Actually there is nothing like being immersed in a language, being forced to use it, to find that maybe you know a little more than you think you do. She asked something, I recognized "trabajo" as "work," and figured she must be asking if I was here for work.
"Si. Trabajo... aqui por" I had to stop and count silently in Spanish to get to nine, "nueve dios."
She grinned. "Nueve Di - as... ahhss" she said, correcting my pronunciation. I felt the heat of embarrassment from my face. I've done a lot of things in life that could have been embarrassing but hadn't bothered me; I've got a pretty thick skin that way. But, mispronounce a simple word in a foreign language in front of a pretty woman and I was embarrassed? Go figure.
I rolled my eyes, and laughed self-consciously. "Oh, of course. Dios," I repeated, bowing my head and clasping my hands as if I was praying to God, indicating that I realized my mistake. Looking back up I held up a finger, "Uno Dios, nueve dias." She laughed.
I realized one of the bodies passing in my peripheral vision on the balcony hadn't moved on by. As I looked over a voice said, "My Mother doesn't speak much English." I looked sideways to find one of the twenty-something's standing slightly behind and between us.
It's funny how fast the mind works at times. My mind recognized and appraised her words, while my eyes were registering the shape and face of the young woman standing beside us, and made the assessment that this really was her daughter, but she must have gotten her boob genes from her father's side. She had just a fraction of the probably DD boobs that her mother sported. It wasn't that I was immediately consciously appraising or comparing, it just popped into my mind. Her hand rose up to rest on her mother's shoulder.
Maria turned, immediately introducing me to her daughter. "Carmen! Este es Esteban".
"Carmen?" I acknowledged, questioning to give her the opportunity to correct me if I said it wrong, while turning more to offer my hand. "I'm afraid I don't speak much Spanish, either."
"It didn't sound that bad to me."
"Nah, just words. I can understand a bit, but all I can really say is words."
Maria said something to Carmen in words so fast that all I recognized was the 'nine days' again, so figured she was telling her daughter what I had said. Apparently, but not unexpectedly, my words had gotten garbled.
"Oh, you'll be here for the next week or so?"
"No, I've already been here nine days. I've got a flight out tomorrow."
"Oh," turning to her mother, I presume she explained the misunderstanding in Spanish. Turning back to me, she said "Would you and mother like to join me and my friends?" She must have already discussed this with her mother as Maria was already standing up, taking her glass of wine with her. I didn't need to answer; the commotion at the table behind us let me know where we were going and Maria had made the decision. Two girls and one young man were making room at the table for us to add two more chairs.
Now with a translator and a few new bodies in place, we started all over again with the questions. Maria and I sat next to each other and for the next few minutes I pretty much answered questions about what I had been doing, where I was from, the whole nine yards.
I found out that Carmen and her boyfriend had come with her two friends to hang out and probably meet up with some other friends at the bar, and after weeks of asking, for the first time they had finally enticed Maria to come with them. Carmen began to fill me in on Maria, obviously sharing only what she thought I needed to know. A widow, Carmen's father had died almost two years before. Carmen was 22, Maria was 39. I made a big show of surprise that Maria could possibly be that old, which led to a round of laughter. When it settled down, I felt Maria's leg touching mine. It was crowded, but not that crowded, however she made no effort to move it away.
When the drinks ran low, I offered to buy a round if someone would come help carry, which led to a discussion between the girls about something. Carmen finally explained apologetically that although the offer was appreciated, the girls weren't really all that interested in the beer. They were more interested in leaving the bottle almost empty, hoping that someone would offer to buy them a round, thereby giving a conversation starter and an opportunity to meet guys. Again I felt like an idiot; it had been umpteen years since I'd spent any time in a hook up bar. I bailed myself out by explaining that I'd been brought to the bar by my co-workers, who were here with the same idea, and that they were going to be here for a few more weeks. Maria pointed out the table where my boys were hanging -- thereby confirming she had been looking at me since I didn't have to say where it was -- and the two girls conversed among themselves for about 4 seconds before they agreed they'd go with me to "get drinks." Drinks, plus girls, plus guys, translated to me carrying two hands full of drinks back to the balcony as Carmen's two friends -- surprise, surprise -- decided to stay below with the boys that I had just introduced them to.