Saturday, June 6, 2015

CRAIG EDWARD KELSO, The Company of a Woman

He was in Navy, she said excitedly in Spanglish, and he lub me! He white boy. Many jeers ago.  

She smiled wide. Her eyes gleamed with liquid passion. Clearly, she had loved him too.

She’s now in her late 30s, married with three children. She’s managed to keep her figure, but her face shows hard living: smoking, drinking, probable drug use (at least at one time), etcetera. 

We’ve become close acquaintances, seeing each other nearly every day. People in our little group tease us and especially her … as it seems she favors me. No, she doesn’t like me any more than a friend. We have this kismet, this connection. She livens up when I am around, and I’ve noticed our conversations moving toward deeper, more personal, topics.

The look on her face when I told her I didn’t have any extended family was heartbreaking. She looked so sad. 

I attempted to soften the explanation, but there wasn’t much use. She couldn’t imagine holidays and special occasions, much less day-to-day LIFE, without her mother and father and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and so forth. This makes her care for me probably more than she would otherwise. Kind of like a lost puppy.

She spied me checking out a woman near us, and she gave me a stern warning: NO! You no go wit Mexican lady. Mexican lady no es loyal. Mexican lady she no good for you. Mexican ladies bad personas.

I laughed and laughed. 

I reminded her SHE is a Mexican lady. 

She smiled and told me she is different. I laughed again. I told her to stay away from white guys. She laughed at me the same way I’d laughed at her. And then she told me about her true love – that white dude she knew so many years earlier. She said she’d bring me a picture of him.

Sure enough, he was a white guy. 

Blonde hair. Blue eyes. The works. 

The picture she showed me, she showed me as if it were a Bourne Ultimatum document. I half expected to see Matt Damon following us on his scooter. She explained her husband had NEVER seen this picture. Not even her closest friends knew of its existence. She held onto it to remind her of the days when she first came to the United States. When I pressed as to why she didn’t wind up with him, she didn’t seem to want to answer.

Life just gets in the way, doesn’t it?

When I hear her speaking with her husband on the phone, she is curt and unresponsive. Years have, I am guessing, dulled whatever spark there might have been. Bills. Kids. Making a life. The speaker was loud enough I could also hear his voice. He too sounds drained. No romance. Just existence. 

Would he ever know how his wife was STARVING? 

Though I really do not know the circumstances, I always place the blame for relationships failing in this way on the man. To me, she’s given him three children. She’s given him her youth. He owes it to her to make her feel wonderful as much as he can. Sure, some women go out of their way to make that impossible. So, I am writing in a general sense. That’s just the way I see it. You asked her to marry you, and so YOU are the one who needs to make it so that she doesn’t regret the decision.

She made the neatest statement the other day. 

She said that she wishes she’d met me way back then. She thinks we would have made a nice couple. I was so flattered. Honored, really. She quickly changes her mind, and she says, no, she’s glad we’ve met this way. She thinks of me as a good, good friend. In Spanish she tells me people can think what they want to think, but we CAN be friends. 

The other people in our little group can tease all they want, it won’t change the moments we’re having. She has a lot to lose by being so nice to me (she has NO IDEA who I am), and I mean that mostly from her rank within the little group. They jump and jump to conclusions. She also told me her husband would go ape shit at the thought of our having lunch together. I tell her I am more than willing to speak with her husband in order to reassure him … should anything come of rumors or what-have-you. She said her husband would be too damn angry to listen to a word from me. Typical.

A dude she’d known for a while pulls me aside, asking me all sorts of questions about my relationship with my new friend. He makes rude statement upon rude statement, suggesting we’re more than friends. 

I attempt to let it go. 

I have to get back to what I am doing. He verbally pushes me to try and get me to flinch. I won’t. I just keep repeating she is a great person, and I am lucky to know her. When she turns the corner, happening to see he and I talking in an animated fashion, she finds a way to turn around gracefully. She knows I am being dressed down by this guy.

I really thought that’d be the end of that. Too many people are afraid of what other people think. In my experience, the second people face any kind of stigma, they run.

Not her.

When I sat down with my famous albacore and water, out she came, smiling for me. This time she sat even closer, squeezing lemon on the tuna! God it is nice to be around a fucking WOMAN, someone with balls. Hahahahaha.

In a thick accent, straight from the streets of Tijuana, she says, Fuck them. I no care!

I think I am rubbing off on her.

And I mean it. 

Craig Edward Kelso is the author of Anarcho-Capitalism (2014), a primer on the philosophy of peaceful, stateless cooperation. His curriculum vitae include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Post-Baccalaureate secondary education credential in both Social Science and English Language Arts. Kelso taught for nearly a decade in the American public school system, and was voted by colleagues Teacher of the Year, twice in his short tenure, earning numerous accolades from chambers of commerce, mayors, state assembly persons, governors, congresspersons, senators, and even Wal-Mart. Currently he struggles to earn an opportunity to be employed, working as a laborer, dishwasher. He is deliriously happily married to Myra Kelso, living in Southern California with their adorable children.

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