During my first two years here I was thoroughly confused regarding the rules of courtship. I met and befriended several muchachas, some young and single, others a little older with children. Some invited me to their homes to meet and socialize with their families, usually just a mother. Others would welcome me if I should pass by their houses coincidentally or have occasion to make a purchase from the family store. I learned about the formal courtship that prevails among “decent” families…or at least families that want their daughters to make a “decent” impression. Through it all, the ladies were so amiable and flirtatious that I was sure they were setting their caps for me. If they were, I guess I blew several opportunities because the process was either moving too slowly or I just mistook a desire for friendship for “the hots”. Forgive me.
Margarita was different. When I let her know frankly what my interest and intentions were and how I hadn’t a cultural clue as to what she wanted, she let me know what was going on and we took it from there. She was my instruction manual on how to win the lady. Praise God!
Now we have Milton. He is from Casa Blanca as is Margarita and the family. I’ve no idea how long he’s known our María, but they’ve been seeing each other for several months now. Milton is 23. Our daughter is 16. Back in my day that would have been a problem for both our mothers. But this is not my day and it’s not my culture.
Milton comes over after work…yes, he has a job and a 1984 white Datsun pickup with SNOOP DOGG across the upper part of the windshield…and the couple sits on our front porch. They talk. I know because I’m just inside the door listening to make sure there are no lengthy pauses.
Tonight, Margarita joined them on the stoop while Luís and Adriana played on the bed of the pickup. I thought there would be a story in this scene, so I took a couple of photos. After I took them, I explained that I was going to write a little story and wanted the photos to go with it. I further related that if I could move their scene to Stelton in the 1950s, there would be a mattress in the back of the Datsun, the mom would not be in the picture, and we would have told her we were off to church for a young people’s meeting or Bible study. She would have thought I was a wonderful young man and would have smiled while waiving bye-bye as we headed for one of my lover’s lane hideaways. Margarita listened and waved her arm at me with the Spanish equivalent of “oh, you”.
Milton seems like a nice enough chap. I reminded them that as unbelievable as it may be, I was once a young man and that’s why I always have one eye on them. Milton grinned. María kind of groaned. I think she knows I love her and have her best interests at heart. But then, I’m from another culture, another place, and another time. May God watch over her and give her wisdom.