He laughed and stepped inside. Everything he wore was new including the most beautiful hat I’ve ever seen. He looked gorgeous while I stood looking homeless in ancient lounge pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt I should’ve thrown away years ago. I’d been writing and wasn’t even sure who I was when the pounding started.
He always asks, “Were you sleeping?” which always causes me to laugh. He pretends to believe I do nothing now that I’m retired. Of course the stacks of books with my name on them prove otherwise, but the cowboy loves to tease me. He’s been doing it for 31 years. Why stop at this late date?
“Let’s go see what the Chinese people are serving,” said the man who never considered eating at any place that didn’t serve Mexican food. Say what you will, I did broaden the guy’s horizons.
“Couldn’t you have called to say you were coming?” I asked in one of those pointless things people say. It goes against the cowboy grain to let me know what’s going on.
“Aw, you know how I am.”
I know all right. One time he said, “Let’s go see our river guides in Colorado” and we left the next day. No stinking vacation plans for the Garcia Family. In fairness, we had a ball.
I had every indication early-on that life with this man would not be smooth and easy, but I went for it anyway.
It was 1983 and he invited me to go to a wedding in San Carlos, a tiny pueblo in Mexico that is 17 miles from the border at Lajitas. He explained we’d be there all day so I should wear comfortable clothes and pack whatever I would wear to the wedding. I asked what we were going to do and the most he would venture was, “See the pueblo. Will you come?”
You’d better believe it, Cowboy. I wouldn’t have missed it.
I could spend the rest of this column describing the scenery on the trip (you know how I am). Suffice it to say it was breathtaking the entire way and then you come down out of the mountains to a green oasis straight out of a painting.
We drove around the plaza first because, as I would come to understand, there is much to be gleaned from at least one trip around the plaza of any Mexican town, large or small.
Then we stopped at a small adobe house and Cowboy said, “Come on and meet my friends.”
A young couple lived there with a baby. The home had a dirt floor but was clean and neat, more than I could claim about my apartment. The people were friendly, but I was immediately lost when the conversation took off. I tried to look as though I was part of it, but I hoped nobody would give me a direct question.
Before I had a clue, Cowboy and his friend pulled away in the truck and left me with this friendly but foreign woman. I asked “Que pasó?” to which she responded, “Se fueron.” Yeah, I knew they left.
We tried to converse, but that couldn’t go very far with me as one of the conversers. I complimented the preciousness of her child, always a winner with mothers. She began telling me about him. I smiled and tried to catch one word but it was useless.
It felt as though I’d been there for weeks when the men returned. Cowboy was all smiles. I wanted to rip him a new one but he hugged me so that seemed the wrong response.
Back in his truck, I said, “Necesito un baño.” I was trying to say I needed a bathroom but I had literally said, “I need a bath.”
He responded that we’d go to his brother’s house because, “es moderna.”
His brother’s wife was so kind to me it almost made me cry. She began to gather towels and shampoo, but I shook my head and pointed to the toilet. She understood immediately.
The remainder of the day was more and more of the same. I was either constantly misunderstood or I was the one misunderstanding. After a while I sort of relaxed into the crazy adventure of it.
We left the wedding dance around three in the morning. It wasn’t over but we were exhausted. Taking the winding, dusty road back in the pitch black of a moonless night was yet another adventure.
In the middle of nowhere we had a flat. The cowboy looked over at me and smiled. Not once had a man ever smiled at me over a flat tire. Instead of being angry and disagreeable, he was happy. He whistled as he got together the things he needed to change it!
Then he came to my window and said, “You have to get out.”
“Come over here.” He led me through the dark to a large boulder. “Sit.”
He slid in next to me, put his arm around me, and lifted my chin until I was looking up at the sky. There are no words in any language to describe the magnificence of what I saw. Neither of us said a word but we understood everything we needed to.