Meeting my grandfather was quite a trip in itself. He picked us up at the station in a faded yellow 89 Ford pick-up. He was standing there with a couple dozen different colored roses. My grandparents spoke to each other in Spanish, of course.
“And these roses?” Grandma took them. “You must have done something you don’t want to talk about to bring me these many.”
“And off you start. You should unpack first. Make me dinner, then you can nag.”
“Like my nagging ever had any effect on you.”
“You know it turns me on.” He tickled her waist. She laughed and hit him on the head with the bouquet.
“Not now, the boy is watching.”
I raised my eyebrows at him and waved.
“Is this Angelita’s boy?” He put his hand on my ear and gently turned my head from side to side, like I was a melon and he wanted to see signs of ripeness.
“Hello Grandpa. I am George. Nice to meet you.”
He laughed a hardy laugh then smacked me on the back. Then he put his arm around me, said I had my mother’s eyes and said she wouldn’t have let me dress the way I do. A real man needed a hat.
We threw the luggage into the back of the pick-up and squished into the cabin which had been pimped out with black and red furry fabric. In a gut-wrenching flash, I envisioned the slaughter of local black and red furry fauna. We made our way down the speedway to the colonia where my grandparents had bought a tiny condo that looked identical to every other one there. The only way to remember where it was exactly was because the house next to it had a sign for beauty salon services.
“Son, the girls there are hot stuff, and they’ll give you a real close shave, if you know what I mean,” my grandpa told me, as we squeezed between the truck door and the walls along their driveway.
“Don’t be putting ideas into his head!” Grandma had gotten off on the sidewalk but that’s how well she knew him.
“The blondie with the…” He made a hand gesture along his chest. “I think her name is Mindy…”
“I have a girlfriend, Grandpa.”
“Oh bless God, you’re not gay.” …That explained my aunt’s homophobia. He went on, “But if you just need a hair cut… Ask for Mindy…”
I could see Blondie in her backyard from the spare bedroom where they had put me up. She had a lot of oomph and sparkle but wasn’t my type. Not that it would have made a difference.
My grandpa asked me to water the plants. I stepped into their yard, grabbed the hose and started spraying. Blondie leaned on the short fence.
I looked up and got water all over her face. I could hear Grandpa laughing his head off inside.
“Whoa! I’m so sorry!” I said in Spanish.
She ran her hands through her hair and blinked rapidly, then patted her hands dry on her breasts, which were pressed against the fence. “If you wanted to see me all wet you could’ve just invited me to the beach.”
“I… have a girlfriend?”
She giggled. “What’s your name?”
“You are the Lara’s grandson?”
“You know my Tía Matty?”
“She’s friends with my older sister. That would make you… Angelica’s son.”
“How do you know my mother?”
“I’m not old enough to know your mother. Your grandpa’s told me about her. I’m Mindy.” She held out her hand. I handed it to her, she pulled me in and kissed me on the cheek. “We’re all good friends around here.”
I wondered if “friends” had the same connotation in Mexico as it did back home.
Back inside I could hear my grandpa telling my grandma how I had sprayed the neighbor with the hose, laughing all the while.
“They’re always like that.”
“Yes. They’re in love, you know.”
“No. I don’t know. I… I just met my grandpa.”
“I know. He was really excited about meeting you. He’s always talking about his daughters. I’d be happy to show you around town. You know, as a friend.” She winked.
I took my phone out of my pocket. I really should be texting Cindy by now. But I still had no signal.
“Uhm, thanks but uh- there’s this guy I made plans with- my schedule’s pretty full for the two weeks I’ll be here.”
She stared at me in disbelief for a few seconds, then turned around, flinging her long yellow tresses in my direction. “Your loss.”
As I wrapped up the watering and walked back into the house, my grandpa laughed between smokes at me. The thing was- I really could have used a haircut.