The Hemmingway Special

INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS. PROCEEDING NARRATIVE IS NOT AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. AUTHOR CITES POETIC LICENSE IN ALTERING SOME OF THE DETAILS.

 

They called it the Hemmingway Special. What a name it was for a drink in this Caribbean tropical paradise. The surrounding scenery would have inspired almost anyone to great thought. It was all beautiful; & special. But nothing was neither as beautiful nor as special as the woman I was wooing that night—Desiree.

OUT OF RESPECT FOR PRIVACY, SOME NAMES HAVE BEEN ALTERED.

Okay, you may want to stop reading after my next revelation. I’m trying to pre-empt all criticism. She was a bartender. Gasp! Roll eyes, laugh, etc. “It’s not real. She’s paid to be nice. You were never going to go anywhere with it.” Hell with all that noise. “It’s not real,” says who? Say the 10,000 idiots who tried the same thing before me & left disappointed? Well, no disrespect to them…but they’re not me…& she wasn’t Desiree. I know she was a resort employee & was paid to be nice to all the guests. But she wasn’t being paid to pay this much attention to me. I wasn’t the only guest in the club that night & she didn’t spend the kind of time with them that she spent with me. Oh, & this was all on a $35 tab over three hours which barely paid for the free peanuts in a place like this. Still reading? Good. You should at least find this entertaining. Maybe.

THE TAB REALLY WAS JUST $35 OVER TWO HOURS.

Confession: I’m really not the kind of guy who bursts into the bar all eyes are on me. But everything seemed different in Puerto Rico. Perhaps it was the diversity; not every man had to look like a Hollister poster in order to be considered a real man. Or maybe it was the money. Maybe it was my persistence or the charm of my garbled attempts to flatter a woman in Spanish when it was clear that I couldn’t really speak Spanish. Awh, the language of love is also garbled. It was comforting to know that, at least in San Juan, I had an excuse for failure.

“Desiree,” I would whisper. “Tus ojos son afuerra del mundo!” (My attempt to tell her that her eyes were out of this world.)

She’d laugh, even blush.

“Do you want another drink,” she would ask me dutifully.

I’d answer, “No tengo nada ahora. Solemente tengo un DE-SIRE para tu.”

As the night wore on, & I approached the top end of my $35 tab—I became bolder.

“Puedo tener una besar para tu?” I asked.

After a pause, “A kiss? You’re asking for a KISS?”

“Por supuesto!” I answered.

She looked off into a distance back towards the bar for a moment, with a silent grin on her face. I could see a thousand different thoughts dancing through the portal of her eyes. She turned around, & instead of slapping me for having been so bold, replied: “I can’t do it here.”

 

 

In an effort to avoid dragging out what most of my readers would probably consider a benign event, I will wind this up shortly. I eventually got that kiss. It was nice, but she didn’t run off with me. My life hasn’t magically changed. I still check my back account & see more debt than I care to admit. And when I make an occasional appearance into a bar or club, it’s obvious that I haven’t suddenly transformed into the surfer boy All-American, ex-quarterback icon that we seem to hype so much in the 48 (continental U.S. excluding Hawaii, Canada, & all overseas territories). She told me she was working the next night—Saturday–& asked me to come back. I had intended to do so, but vacations are a fluid situation, & I was unable to make. Sunday was my last night. It had been a long day & the next day would be even longer. Still, I wanted to say good bye. I went back to the old venue where she had been working two nights before     .

“Good evening, Sir. What would you like?” I was greeted by one of the other bartenders from Friday night.

“Quierro un menu, por favor.” I was just trying to buy time as I scanned the bar for my Desiree.

After a cursory review of the menu, I asked,”Donde esta Desiree esta noche?”

“Desiree? The bartender?”

“Yes, her.”

She doesn’t work tonight.

For the first time during my seven day visit to Puerto Rico, it felt chilly. I had left my jacket in the room.

“She worked Friday & Saturday night but is off today.”

“Esta bien. Gracias. Quierro the Hemmingway Special.” The resort was a gated compound consisting of multiple buildings. My sleep quarters were some distance away from this club. I had come all that way. I was at least having a drink.

AUTHOR REMINDS ALL READERS THAT THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE IN THE US IS 21 & OLDER. AUTHOR ENCOURAGES RESPONSIBLE USE OF ALCHOHOL FOR PERSONS OF ALL AGES.

It took a few sips of the drink before I realized how excited I had been about seeing Desiree again, even if it only would have been for a few minutes. I knew this because the sinking feeling I felt in my stomach right then & there disappointment. But it was okay, even comforting. Because for years, the only woman I had ever felt anything for—desire, tenderness, anger—was that blonde social-lite flight attendant who had me down as a 3rd stringer on her roster. When the dream of our union came crumbling down, I was never the same. That adventurous, poetic, albeit silly—romantic side of me had been a victim of the cataclysmic emotional aftermath. But tonight, I was able to feel disappointment again about someone else–& it didn’t break me. If I could deal with pain again, then I knew I was in training to experience love again. Because love is, after all, pain.

The called it the Hemmingway Special. It tasted like crap & I only bought it because it was the cheapest drink on the menu at $9.00 a glass. But it turned out to be one hell of a drink. And if I ever get a chance to do so, I’d order it again.

Romeo Barongan

 

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