Learning from Dogs
He was settling very quickly into the local scene. It was a strange mix of Americans and Mexicans. Then within the Mexican population there appeared to be as least two groupings, or categories. Those Mexicans that, in one form or another, had lives or businesses that revolved around the many Americans living there and then another group of Mexicans who were much less visible. Undoubtedly, this latter group were poorer, many living in an area of San Carlos known as the Ranchitas. An area that he didn’t expect to be shown but had been mentioned by both Lisa and Molly. It slightly reminded him of those early days in Spain when English tourists started travelling there, before the whole packaged holiday thing exploded. He could remember his father and mother taking the family for a vacation in Spain. Pretty sure that was back in 1953 because he recalled the streets of London being prepared for the Queen’s Coronation as they drove through London early in the morning on their way to the Channel car ferry. Distant and faint memories of the place where they were staying in Spain being dusty, hot and very uncommercial yet gearing themselves up to sell as many services as they could to these new British tourists. So, so long ago. Philip didn’t have a clue as to where they had stayed in Spain, just that at some deep level in his memory that place in Spain seemed to resonate some fifty-three years later with this place in Mexico.
Lisa and Molly arranged that all of them would go on Friday to a local dinner and dance establishment in San Carlos called Banana’s. Apparently, every Friday there was a Mexican Mariachi band that played lively music plus the menu offered a number of good local Mexican dishes.
He didn’t have a clue as to what to wear but not having brought an enormous range of clothes he settled on a loose-fitting, short-sleeved cotton shirt over a pair of cream slacks.
It was a perfect end to his first full week, and he had no doubt whatsoever that Lisa’s invitation to come here for Christmas had been a godsend. No better underlined than by the fact that yesterday had been the 20th of December and it was only this morning, the 21st, as he was showering and wondering what the date was, that he realised that the anniversary of the bombshell in his life a year ago had remained out of his consciousness. Maggie had been erased.
Rather than go directly to Banana’s, Don drove first over to Molly’s house and waited while she closed her front door and jumped into her own car. He caught a glimpse of what she was wearing; noticing how her low-cut blouse, a silk scarf across her shoulders, a pair of skin-tight long, pale-blue trousers signalled that this was a lady who was going to enjoy her Friday evening out with them all.
The atmosphere at Banana’s was electric for reasons that he couldn’t put his finger on. Not that it mattered what the reasons were, what did matter was that there was almost a festival mood all around them.
Molly was obviously a very competent Spanish speaker and ordered the meals and drinks for all in the Mexican waiter’s native tongue. Philip had rapidly come to the view that Molly was well-known in the town. Hardly surprising when one reflected on how many years she had been living here, as well as being a fluent Spanish speaker. They were chatting about the number of Americans living in San Carlos and Don explained how he and Lisa, as with so many of the other Americans, went North back up to the States during the Summer as it became so very hot here in San Carlos. Molly said that for her this was her one and only home plus that she couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to, leave her dogs.
Their meal came to an end. Molly was clearly itching to be dancing. Philip, never a great dancer at the best of times, was fearful of even being able to put one foot in front of another, let alone offer an attractive woman a worthy experience on the dance-floor.
The Mariachi group started another tune. Molly said, “It’s a tango, come on, let’s give it a try.”
He started to protest that he didn’t know how to dance the tango but, nonetheless, was rising from his seat.
She grabbed his hand and led him on to a smallish dance-floor saying just to follow her. The wooden circular dance-floor, perhaps thirty-five feet in diameter, had a dozen or so other couples getting into the swing of the music.
He put his right arm around Molly’s slim waist, grasped her outstretched hand with his other hand, and gave in to the rhythm. Molly danced in such a natural way that within a few bars of the music his feet had got the idea, and his head had embraced the beat of the music. He very quickly got lost in the whole sensation, not even the smallest part of his mind puzzled on how it was that he could walk on to a Mexican dance-floor with a woman with whom he had never danced, a band playing a rhythm that he would have been certain he couldn’t dance to, and feel as though he and Molly had done this their entire lives.
It was not unnoticed by others. As the music came to a close, Philip and Molly were aware, and rather embarrassed, to observe that other couples on the dance-floor had stopped their dancing and moved to the edge of the floor to give them more space for their gyrations. Molly put her arm through his as they made their way back to the table and said that was perfect; that she loved fun things and hadn’t had such fun for a long time.
Lisa looked up at them as they came to the table and remarked in Philip’s direction that for someone who claimed not to be able to dance the tango, he and Molly had put on quite a show.
Molly had her hand on Philip’s forearm as she declared to Lisa that this man was quite a dancer. Philip was at a complete loss to make sense of anything. It was almost as though the Philip of a year ago had died and been reborn Philip Mk. II.
After a pause of ten minutes or so, Molly was up for another dance and grabbed his arm. It was a slower dance and he had not one moment’s hesitation to be on the dance-floor with her.
Again, he became connected totally to her through the music, unaware of anything else going on in the room. All that he was experiencing in his heart was that being with Molly was unlike being with any other woman in his life. All he knew was that in a previous life having such close contact with a gorgeous, single woman would be triggering desires to have his wicked way with her. No, forget triggering desires, he would be scheming how to get her knickers off before the night was out!
But with Molly it was different. Yes, of course, she had a lovely figure and as they danced close to each other he could feel her beautiful breasts pressing through her silk blouse against his chest. No, the difference was that he had no ambitions, no sense of what was coming next; whether that next was in an hour’s time or in a life time. He had heard frequently about living in the present; assumed what it was at an intellectual level. However, what he was experiencing now was nothing less than being fully alive in this present moment. It felt like perfection of being.
They returned to the table to find that Don had left. Lisa explained that he was tired, that he wasn’t much of a partying man and had gone on home, with the expectation that Molly would run Lisa and Philip back to the house at the end of the evening. It didn’t seem to phase Lisa; quite the opposite. Because she said, with an eager and excited tone to her voice, that they should spend the rest of Friday evening at Froggie’s Bar. Apparently, Don had settled the bill here at Banana’s on the way out.
The evening continued at Froggie’s as it had started at Banana’s. Lots of silliness between the three of them to the extent that their peals of laughter, especially from Lisa and Molly, caused more than one head to turn in their direction. He couldn’t believe, even as he was experiencing these days in San Carlos, just how wonderful it was making him feel.
Thus it was some twenty minutes later, with Lisa enjoying a dance with one of the many Americans having a Friday night out, when he glanced at Molly and spoke with a slightly raised voice to counter the sound of the music, “I just can’t tell you what a difference coming to San Carlos has made for me.”
Molly, sitting next to him at the table, gave him what he thought was a most puzzling look. He was trying to read that look, a look that seemed part dreamy, part embarrassed, and part very private, when she lent her head close to his right ear, hand on top of his hand, and murmured to him, “Do you know I would love to be kissed by you.”
He swung his legs around to the right so that he was sitting opposite her, placed his right arm around her warm, slender waist and softly, so very softly, met her lips and kissed her. The moist tip of her tongue explored his tongue in what was the most sensuous kiss he could remember in a lifetime.
It had him turned totally upside down. As with their second dance at Banana’s he was feeling a wave of emotion unfamiliar with anything from his past life.
Lisa returned to the table and after another twenty minutes or so, it was agreed by all that it was time to call it a night. Lisa, in particular, didn’t want her return to be too late knowing that Don would be asleep in bed.
Philip suggested that as Molly and Lisa had clearly had quite a lot to drink, certainly much more than he had, then why not let him drive Molly’s car, drop Molly off at home and bring her car back first thing in the morning.
It was a little before nine in the morning when Philip drew up outside Molly’s house, turned off the ignition and opened the door in the front wall that enclosed a small yard space in front of the house. He was heard by the dogs well before he reached up for the iron door knocker on the main front door and shortly thereafter he heard Molly’s shout to come on in.
“How’s your head?” he asked her.
“Oh, fine. Thank goodness I rarely suffer from hangovers. Don’t know why because I’m happy to have a few drinks when the mood is right. Can I get you a coffee? Or would you like a tea? I managed to buy some tea-bags yesterday. Lipton’s tea, can you believe that.”
He opted for the tea and stood looking out across the bay. He heard the sound of water heating up in a pot followed moments later by Molly calling out to him.
“Philip, I’m so sorry about last night for being a fool. I got a little carried away in asking you for that kiss. Please excuse me.”
He wasn’t sure how to reply and sat on his thoughts, so to speak, as the sound of boiling water being poured into two mugs heralded the arrival of the tea.
“Milk but no sugar,” she called out.
“Yes, that’s correct. Well done on remembering.”
They both sat down on the verandah.
“Did you hear me saying how sorry I was to be such a fool?”
“Yes, I heard you.”
There was a silence between them of a couple of minutes or so, before she spoke up.
“I don’t know what to make of your lack of any reaction to what I just said.”
“Molly, it’s like this. Your kiss was beautiful for me and I thought you felt the same way. So when you just said sorry for being a fool, it’s left me confused. I don’t know how to match what I felt as we kissed with the idea that it may have just been a bit of a flirtation on your part coming out of a fun evening.”
Molly said nothing. She just put her mug down on the glass-topped table in front of her, stood up and came around to be behind Philip as he sat on his chair.
She wrapped both arms around his neck and shoulders and across his chest and lent her head down besides his, kissed his left cheek and breathed the words, “Thank you”.
As she stood upwards, he got out of his chair, turned and grasped his arms around her and kissed her full on her lips. This time there was a hunger in him and he felt stirrings through his body that were both sexually exciting and emotionally confusing. For he was starting to realise that Molly was something more to him, even if he was unable to define what that more was. Yet, at in the same thought, he knew that in just over two week’s time he would be leaving Mexico and travelling back to England. That he knew that he was emotionally unprepared for the separation from this woman that was starting to be so attractive to him.
“Sorry, Molly, now my turn to apologise. I was clearly getting a little carried away.”
Her face was written all over with the same emotional confusion as he had just felt within him.
“Molly, both you are and I mustn’t inadvertently hurt each other. I sense we are both yearning for love and compassion but …”
He couldn’t find the words to finish his sentence.
“I understand, Philip, I really do. You’re right,” Molly paused. “But I damn well wish you weren’t.” There was a twinkle in her eye.
“Come on, I’ll run you back to Lisa’s place.”
Philip was aware from previous times that Americans didn’t make as much of Christmas as Europeans do, and especially as the Brits do. However, Molly, in true British style, decided to put on a Christmas dinner for all four of them. He wondered what to give Molly for a Christmas gift. Luckily came up with the brain-wave of buying some blank recordable CDs and making up some music CDs. He had brought his laptop with him from England and there were several hundred music tracks to choose from. It was only after a long evening’s recording that he realised that the majority of the tracks he had selected had romantic music. Something was pulling his emotional strings!
Later, after his bed-side lamp had been turned off and he was settling down under his covers, he found himself thinking very deeply about Molly. If only she was living in Britain. If only …. He pulled himself up sharply. If only what Philip? Was he thinking that Molly is someone that he would like to have a full relationship with? But only if it was convenient? The voice in his head was very good at asking the questions but not so good at delivering the answers.
Christmas Day was a good day and Molly adored the music CDs. She had worked so hard to decorate her house yet Philip dare not admit that the warmth and the sun and the scintillating views out across the waters of the bay didn’t make it really feel like an English version of Christmas Day. Even the huge Christmas lunch couldn’t offset his feeling of displacement. It was small beer in the scheme of things.
The 26th, the day after Christmas, was a Wednesday. Two American friends of Molly, Don and Pam, invited Philip and Molly for dinner at Banana’s. They, too, had a second home in San Carlos. Molly came over to Lisa’s house to pick him up in her car
He immediately took to Don and Pam as they sat and enjoyed a pre-dinner drink. Don was asking him a little about his background when he noticed Pam say something to Molly in private that made her blush and snigger a little.
He paused in his conversation with Don and caught Molly’s eyes.
“Philip, Pam was just saying that the general view around the place is that we are an item.”
Don laughed and said how it only confirmed all that he had heard about British single men and their carrying-ons when on holiday.
“Come on Don,” Philip teased him back. “That’s single British men in the twenties screwing around, literally, on the beaches of the Costa Brava in Spain; the result of bottom-dollar cheap packaged holidays. I’m an ancient fella in contrast, I mean the wrong side of sixty-three and all that. Practically forgotten how to screw if you’ll forgive the expression. Last time I performed that way London was being lit by gas lamps.”
Pam threw back her head and roared with laughter. Molly poked a finger in his upper arm and commented that she hadn’t realised that he was that old.
It was another lovely evening. He couldn’t help noticing how he was being accepted by all those that clearly knew Molly well and it made him feel very good within.
After the meal, both Don and Pam and Philip and Molly enjoyed a number of dances.
He and Molly had returned to their table as Don and Pam remained for the next dance.
She took his hand and looked him in the eyes. “You know, I was thinking about what you said earlier.”
“What was that I was saying?”
“About how you have practically forgotten how to make love. Can’t use that other word.”
There was the briefest of pauses before she continued, the softest of loving tones in her voice, “Do you want to make love to me tonight?”
3,072 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover