After meeting my dream girl friend in a dance and asking her to go steady, it was hard to keep a straight face. Not that I was purposely lying to her, it was that I said nothing of the situation. I guest that not saying anything at all makes us all guilty. It was a mistake of mine to keep little secrets, but when you fall in love we have a tendency to try to hold on at all cost. I was afraid that my secret would break us apart.
Since we lived in government housing it was obvious that we were not well off. My parents didn’t have much of an education and my brother and I were still in high school when I meet Janie. After about six months after meeting her my brother graduated and joined the Air Force. He already had a driver’s license and I was just supporting the surrounding cities with my donations of paying tickets for driving without a license. We only had one old car, and my mother was the other license driver in our home, so I was the risk taker.
I used to get a ride from my mother whenever she could drive me off to San Benito where my girl friend lived. However, coming home was a different story because she had other things to do when I wanted to go see her at the movies. My home was in Harlingen and the drive or walk was seven miles away whenever I went to see her in her town.
When you’re in love, it’s true that no obstacle will keep lovers from seeing each other, which in my case was so very true. I never told my girl that I had to walk the seven miles after viewing a show at her local theater. I always waited until she had left the vicinity of the downtown area before making my move. I didn’t tell her that I really had no ride to go home after the show.
Seven miles over the expressway and through some rough neighborhood was a task within itself. It was my little dark secret because I didn’t know how to approach the whole situation. I really never had enough money for luxuries or extra cash to lavish ourselves with. Heck, to be very frank about it, I would tell her that I might be late getting there to the movie theater.
She wanted to wait for me to get there and then we would all go in together. Janie was the eldest in her family and she would bring along her sister Rosa. Every once in a while she would bring her other brother and sisters. They were, Sylvia, Irma and the youngest was Danny. Her other brother was George, but he wouldn’t go along with them to the movies.
Her father was very strict and wouldn’t allow her daughters to be dating anyone.
Even though I was Janie’s boyfriend and Mario was Rosa’s boyfriend, we managed to be around them in a sneaky way. I am more than sure he suspected us guys, but as long as we kept our distances, things went well.
Now, I was only making twelve dollars working at a downtown women’s store named The Diana Shop. I worked after school and half a day on Saturday and that is how I made my own money to spent. It didn’t go very far, and when Janie would invite me to meet her at the movies, I knew I couldn’t afford more than my own way. It wasn’t that I was cheap, I just happened to be poor.
She didn’t know that I lived in government housing. She really believed that we were living in that brick home and that my parents were buying it. This was another dark little secret of mine. Since I couldn’t even afford to pay her way into the movies, I would make up the excuse that I might be coming in late and that it was better for her and her sister to wait inside the theater. Boy, did I feel cheap, but love concurs all.
Well, it worked for a while. Lies, even if they are silent lies always seem to come back and bite you in the ass. Yes, I did get caught, but I call it selve defense. You have to remember that I didn’t mention too much about my personal life to my girlfriend. The less I said, the better it was for me to try and keep her. I really didn’t know much about those famous words that went, “If two people really love each other, then love will keep them together.”
Hell, I wasn’t going to take any chances. What if she knew I was too poor and she expected greater things from a guy that was two years younger? No way was I going to volunteer information that would incriminate me, you know, like the Fifth Amendment. What about those famous lines, “Anything you say or do could be held against you in a court of law.” I was in love, not crazy.
My girl knew I was going to be late, so of course she waited inside for me. You should have seen the sweat on my forehead. I often wondered what I would have done if she happened to wait longer times for me. Well, I had that one covered too because around the corner was a good place to keep out of sight and watch those entering the movies. There were some close calls, but thank goodness I managed to meet her inside.
Yes, I wasn’t very school wise, but I was very street wise. In school I made very good grades, but it wasn’t a plan for college preparation. I studied right before a test and retain it for that one test. For sure I would make no less that a B, but I didn’t retain it for long periods of time. No sir, I had more important things to do, you know, like looking out for my girlfriend and all.
Now once we exited the theater lobby and walked outside we really didn’t stay together or hold hands. There was a chance her father might be driving around or a family member might tell him about us if we were seen too close together. He was sneaky himself because sometimes he would send Janie’s mother to spy on her them. I told you he was very strict even though my girlfriend was already out of high school and in Business College.
Well, on many occasions as Rosa’s boyfriend would walk outside the movies he was most gracious to ask me if I needed a ride. I didn’t know him very well at that time and I had too much pride, or maybe I wasn’t too sure if he would find out about my little secrets and tell his girlfriend and then she would tell her sister and bingo, I would be discovered. No sir, I wasn’t a school smart, but I wasn’t stupid either. I W A S I N L O V E, remember.
As I stated before, things catch up to you when you lease expect it. Now, Mario had a car and he would follow Janie and her sister as they walked home to make sure they got home safely. He really was a gentlemen and I was more of the wild thing. I danced crazy, jumped up and down, did the split, and kept little dark secrets.
On this one day after about the one hundred times, he asked politely if I needed a ride since he saw me waiting outside the theater. I said, " Oh no Mario, they are coming to pick me up, but thanks for asking!" Right after that he was on his way as the security guard for my girlfriend and his as he patiently followed them home.
Soon as he was out of sight I made my move to walk the ten blocks of city streets that led to the expressway? I was really moving fast because my girl would tell me that she would call me in about thirty minutes. She had no knowledge of my foot speed, she thought I was on my way home in a car, can you believe that? I must have been a greyhound or something because I would run up and down that expressway like a dog out of the dog pound.
I often made it home on time to answer the telephone. And to think that her first question was, "Why are you breathing so hard? Have you been running or something like that? "
My response, “Oh no sweetheart, I was just outside and I ran inside to answer the telephone. I knew you were going to call and I didn’t want to miss hearing you sweet voice!”
If she could only see me then, with a glass of water on my hand and letting it spill on top of my head to ease the headache from running seven miles. Yes, seven miles of being chased by dogs wanting to bite my buns if I didn’t move my little hinny. Yes, seven miles of feet pounding on the pavement and caliche roads that blistered my poor feet. Yes, seven miles of staying out of the way of glaring high beams of cars. And yes, seven long miles of wondering, “Why the hell haven’t you told her, or better yet, why the hell didn’t you take the free ride you stupid fool?” All of this in the name of L O V E.
I got caught in my own trap as Mario made a quick trip back from following the girls. I saw him from the corner of my eye and didn’t acknowledge him by keeping my head faced forward. He had good eyesight because he knew it was I and slowed down. He opened his window, and very mannerly asked me by my nickname, "Hey, Bird, need a lift home?
I turned him down, but he was persistent. He never wavered from wanting to help, he was always like that, very gentlemen like and great manners. I kind of was glad because I knew word would get to my girlfriend through Rosa. However, the feeling of not having to let my tongue hang out like a dog as I ran home was a welcoming experience. I knew I had been caught and I had to face the firing squad. My girlfriend would either love me just the way I was, or dump me like trash into a dumpster. I was ready to hang up those old beat-up running shoes.
Copyright © 2008 Oscar Elizondo
Ever hear the Phrase, “Love Will Keep Us Together?” This true story is humorous and very real. Lies will catch up to you and sometimes there are very hard consequences to pay for them. Well, you’ll love this and the outcome is like nothing you have ever heard.