I’m in the middle of another liquid lunch at El Patio when the waiter checks in.
“No, traigame otra cuba libre por favor.” I tell him.
My table’s near the street. An odd assortment of mostly light-skinned people pass by: gringos, ticos, bums, old men hustling Cubans.
I have mixed feelings about San Jose. There’s danger and filth on every street corner. Still, it feels good to be back. The air is cool, the women stunning, and I’ve just found “Ask The Dust,” over at Mora Books.
I caress the worn paper cover as if it was an old lover. It cost me 3000 colones. That’s about $7. Cheap here. But in Nicaragua I could get a bottle of Flor de Cana, and still have enough cash left over to rent Ortega’s stepdaughter.
As silly as it sounds, I need this book, and all the rum. It’s keeping me from getting angry with the dark-skinned Nica who’s holding up my lunch.
When she finally arrives, Ana’s bristling with energy. She drapes a leather pouch over the chair, takes off her wrap-around stripper shades, sits, and folds her arms across her chest.
“You’ve changed.” she says
She sneers at the book, as if she’s just caught me in bed with a Mexican whore.
I’ve changed? The words swim in my head. No one’s ever accused me of that before.
“All you care about is books. You always read and write on computer. -Ella es tu amante.”
“I’d say cannabis is my love. The computer’s for work -though I’m quite fond of internet porn.”
“Talk to me! Why you no talk to me?”
I lean back in my seat, and watch a gecko chase insects on the bamboo ceiling. A shaft of sunlight stabs at me from the street.
“What did you want to talk about?” I finally say.
“There’s no sex. You no want me anymore.”
“We had sex the day before yesterday.”
“Not like before. You no want me like before.”
“You were a stripper before.”
I let that hang there while I finish my drink and flag down the waiter. I really don’t want to have this conversation. I’d much rather hear her take on China’s offer to build Nicaragua a canal.
“Is it because I’m fat?”
This is something many men fail to consider when they lure a stripper off the pole. Stripping is very physical, it keeps women lean, and financially independent. I’ve known women who gave up the life, a year later I almost couldn’t recognize them. They were 50 lbs heavier, and broke.
“Other men tell me I’m not fat”
“Then it’s settled. You’re not fat.”
“That’s why I started the gym” she says.
“You’re not fat” I say. And she isn’t. Not even close. She’s just gone from a perfect 95lbs to a healthy 125lbs. Most gringas would kill for that.
But this is not about other women, or weight. It’s the whole deal. -The I can’t find a job, stay fit, entertain myself, do anything without the stupid gringo’s help deal. Right now I despise her. I despise myself.
When we first met Ana was poor and just over from Nicaragua. I felt there was a mutual attraction. I asked for nothing she didn’t already have. Be yourself I said. I’m easy. You don’t need to clean or cook for me. Just do what makes you happy.
And I was honest. I told her I was a writer. I told her how I was, and what I liked. I never asked her to stop working. In fact, I advised against it.
And now to learn that what I do is not enough. That I need to sex her up 3 times a day like before, instead of 3 times a week, that the time I spend writing, and reading is somehow a betrayal.
It’s too much. A man tells you what’s expected. You say cool, or fuck off. There’s nothing workable in between.
So we go back to our room in Bario Amon and fuck. Outside of a marriage proposal, or tossing her into the street, it’s the only way to shut her up. When we finish, Ana sprawls on the damp sheet and surfs the channels on the TV. She’s happy now that she’s cum, as if an orgasm could really change anything.
I crack open a bottle of cold Imperial from the mini fridge, and go back to my book. I’m happy now that I have something more to write about, as if my writing could really mean anything.
-Cojito @ Panama After Dark.