Friday, May 29, 2009
I have a thing for latinas, as some people know. Not the native-descent latinas, but the ones bred of Spaniard and Andalusian bloodlines, mixed with black and caucasian and native blood over hundreds of years.
I'm sitting in a café in Miami's Little Havana district, Tinta y Café. It's probably the BEST cuban coffee purveyor in the country. It's in a strip mall that is more like Cuba than los Estados Unidos. Most people who look for it drive right past.
The friendly staff is decidedly Cuban islander, as are some of the people sitting around me. I love the Cubans: toned skin, gorgeous figures (men, too), they dance, they drink, they socialize. In Tinta y Café, you're likely to be hit up for conversation by someone else drinking a cup of fine Cuban roast.
Even though I have a thing for latinas, the Cubans have mystified me for decades. I can't seem to get a date, let alone anything beyond a date. My biggest failure is with oriental Asians: I have a 0% batting average in just getting phone numbers. My failure rate is so high that I don't even bother talking to them anymore. Cubans are a close second.
The closest I got with a Cuban was more than a few years ago, actually. We're still friends on Facebook (which is a bit scary because her and I have 10 actual mutual friends that date back 15 years for me, and I've never met her through them). She's dating a good friend of mine from a third circle, and she has pictures with 2 gals I've actually dated or slept with from a fourth and fifth circle. Scary stuff, worlds colliding.
I met her dancing in a Mexican club in Chicago. I have a few hearty Mexican friends who are right of the truck: cowboy hats, cowboy boots, tassles and fringe o their jackets. They're the perfect stereotype all over, with moustaches, whistling at cute girls that walk past, hard-as-rock hands and skin. I love the guys, and they love to take me out dancing.
We're in this Mexican club and practically every woman in there that is getting attention is nowhere near a size 2 or 4 or 6 (or 8): they're larger than I can generally handle well in bed. That's OK, because even the most handsome and sexy Mexican men are all in their face, hands on the bootie, whispering to them in Spanglish. Not my scene.
My Mexican friends ask me why I never hit on any of the women I dance with, so I tell them: "Son demasiado grandes por mi." (They're too big for me). They chuckle, interweaving why a woman with hips from heaven are good for wives. Maybe, but not this future husband. So they ask me what I like.
"Spanish olive skin, light eyes, prominent face, small tits, round ass, slim tummy, booming smile, taller than shorter." They laugh, telling me a woman like that would be ignored by the real men, the caballeros. I shake my head and go dance, edging my way towards a mass of latinas who are having fun.
Not fifteen minutes later, I hear my cowboys screaming and whistling, "Sano, sano, su princesa está allá!" I look towards the door and see 4 of the "hot ones" walk in, but behind them I make eye contact with a girl whose eyes are just over the shorter ones' heads. I'm dancing and end up stumbling a bit in shock. She makes eye contact just as I practically fall off the 6" raised dance floor, and she laughs. Damn it.
So I make a physical move of dusting myself off, just as I do when I tumble off a horse and land in a pile of dust. I didn't fall, but I'm around cowboys so the hand gestures change. I look up after checking myself out, and she's still staring at me. I smile, she smiles. I return to los cabelleros for another round of tequila shots.
The boys ask me "Why aren't you talking to that one?" I tell them about my many failures with Las Cubanas, and latinas in general. They laugh and pound me on the back, telling me she's easy prey. I disbelieve and disagree, seeing as she's the prettiest woman I've seen in a club, any club, in over a year.
As the night progresses, she's obviously being ignored. She makes shy eyes when people are talking to her gal pals, and as she sips her drink slowly, she sends me a side glance every so often. Damn it, I need to talk to this woman. I'm usually not one to get flustered and lose my confidence, but for some reason the banishment from the latin tribe over the years has taken its toll. As the night progresses, my boys keep noticing me checking her out, and her checking me out. It's driving me nuts.
Around 1am, they tell me it's now or never. Some mexican clubs have a tendency to kick people out earlier than last call because of the onslaught of people leaving the bar at the same time, causing a ruckus with the gentrified neighbors. They push me towards her, half a bar and a lifetime away, and she notices it. She laughs cutely as she returns to talking to her friends.
So I walk over there doing my best stroll. She turns her head to me and I get a bit nervous, and then the worst happens: I forget about the 6" raised dancefloor corner, clip it with my foot, and take a tumble, drink and all. Less than 4 feet from her party. No one seems to notice but her, and she gallops over as I look up and give my most embarassed grin. It looked like galloping because she was that much taller than her friends.
I get up, and she's right there. "Are you ok?" No. "Are you hurt?" My ego is bruised. "It was cute. Didn't you see that edge?" Her accent is giving me chills up my spine. I forgot. I was looking to see if you were going to leave. "I was wondering why you didn't approach. You're not latino, are you?" No.
We talk a bit, and her friends are pushing her to leave. I ask why and she admits it, "They don't like you very much." Why? "You're dressed like a gringo." I _am_ a gringo. "I know, but it's like wartime in here. Gringos get the door." I don't see you talking to anyone here. "To the guys, I'm a gringa." Oh, that sucks. What's your name? "Hondra." Huh? "It's from Alejandra." Oh, I like that. Can I call you? She smiles and pulls out a card, her number already scribbled on it. Do you keep those ready always? "I was going to give it to the bartender to give to you."
I blush. Not a minor blush, but a full-range blush that is overpowering the blue and green disco-style lamps on the dance floor. She notices it and lowers her face without breaking eye contact, her own blush pushing through the now full-lights-on club.
Thanks, I tell her. "Ok, good night." Poise, posture, princess. God damn it, I want this woman on my arm, on my lips, in my bed, on my horse, on my island, in my castle, in my world. Well, maybe that's the tequila talking, but she's amazing. Crushes suck.
I call her a week later and get her voice mail. Try again one more time, voice mail again. This is a rule: call twice, never call again. Chagrined, I delete her number and toss her card. Damn it.
Months pass and she's long forgotten. I'm already dating someone now, the French girl who wowed me at a book reading and discussion. It's not serious, but serious enough. We'd had "the talk" about being closed to dating others. And then Jandra calls. Shit.
"I'm sorry I didn't call, I had family problems and they had to be dealt with. I didn't want to bother you." You should have called and said so. "In my culture, a woman doesn't do that if she's too busy." I'm seeing someone. "Oh. Well, I am sorry, I will not call again." Damn it, I put her off. The French girl is great and all, but this woman had such an effect on me that I didn't know what to do. We said goodbye and that was that.
A year passes, the French girl and I broke up because she was moving to London. Very amicable parting, still friends on Facebook. I'm at another Mexican bar with friends, and there is Jandra. With a gorgeous latino. He's so gorgeous that I'd say he was gay, but who knows, really. Gay, or latino?
She sees me across the room and smiles. I smile back, really uncomfortable at this point because my super crush returns in full force. Fuck me, I can't win with latinas. I need to stop coming to these bars and clubs, but I love dancing, I love tequila, and I love the air of passion from all.
A few days later, she calls me. "It's Jandra." Oh, hi. "From the club a year ago." I remember you. "I say you at Black Cat the other night." I know, I saw you, too. "Why didn't you come up to me?" You were with a guy. "That's my boyfriend, but I can still have friends." I don't want to be friends. "Oh. Well, I understand. I wouldn't want to just be friends either." You don't know me. "We latinas have a sense for men from their walk and their eyes." Your boyfriend is perfect. "He is a pretty man, yes, but far from perfect." If it doesn't work out, call me. "I can't think about this now, but I have your number." Again we say goodbyes and my heart flutters a bit.
Another year passes and I'm dating a girl from Texas, half Mexican half Irish. Cute as hell, great in the sack, amazing body and face. She's really insecure, though, and I feel it won't last long until she can break herself over her issues. I'm happy, she's happy, but there's a demon in the closet, growing bigger and bigger. And, of couse, I run into Jandra at a gringo jazz club, with the Texan on my arm. Fuck. She comes to talk to me.
"Hi, again." Hi. Where's the supermodel? "It didn't work out." You didn't call me. "I got a new cell phone and honestly lost your number. I wish I had it." Oh. It's OK. This is Samantha. The ladies introduce themselves, and Jandra says her parting goodbyes and returns to her table, which is thankfully behind ours. Sam stares at her off and on, though, throwing dirty looks.
"Who is that?" Someone that never worked out. "Did you date her?" No. "Did you sleep with her?" No. "She's gorgeous, stunning." She is. So are you. Don't worry about her, she doesn't even have my number. "I'm jealous." Don't be. "She's prettier than me." She isn't, I lied. Sam doesn't believe me.
Years pass. I never call Jandra, she never calls me (not having my number). We bump into each other, over and over, but we're never single at the same damn time. She meets a guy, an old friend of mine who owns a bar. They move to Arizona in 2005. She adds me to Facebook in 2007, through the guy she's seriously dating.
We talk on the phone here and there, laughing about our mutual crushes on the other. She admits that she wished she had my number many times, just because no man has ever been so off-handed about pursuing her. I told her that every man I've seen her with is ridiculously gorgeous, but she brushes it off. "Pretty men are confident and talk to women." I'm confident, and not pretty. "You're more than pretty, you're dark and brooding and ridiculously secretive." How did you know then, we just started talking recently? "Latina women can tell."
She never married that bar owner, and they broke up in 2008. We still talk, and she's with another guy, a better guy, not as gorgeous at all, but solid. She said they're going to marry, make her grandmother happy. I'm glad for her, and will likely attend her wedding. But the crush still reignites on occasion when I think of the one Cuban who got away. Would it have worked? Probably not, but damn it, I wanted her flesh on my flesh, her heart against my heart, her smile beaming at me, even her hair in my shower drain and her tampons in my medicine cabinet.
That's how it is when timing isn't right. Time. It's fleeting. It falls away. We miss opportunities, connections, loves, affairs, jobs, parties, funerals, weddings, births, and all. Sometimes it isn't chemistry or attraction, it isn't a lack of desire or hope. It's time. Don't let it pass you by one more day. Take a risk. Jump on the smallest shred of hope and learn from your failures. It'll make you a better person. It did for me.