1965 - A Christmas PastSunday, December 25, 2011
It was December 1965 and I had been doing my military service in the navy in Buenos Aires. I had recently bid goodbye to one of my first real girlfriends. It had taken a while to adjust to the fact that any woman might look twice at the nerd I surely was, particularly one with a very short haircut. I had bid her goodbye at Dárcena C in Puerto Nuevo. She was off to art school in London via Southampton. I had gone back to my pensión and listened to Kind of Blue until depression, a very good one, set in and tears were running down my eyes. I felt wonderfully and miserably lost. She had made me promise that I visit her friend, her best friend. I was told that friend would console me and that we would share many moments of pleasure comparing notes. She was right. I felt most attracted to this new girl who showered me with wonderful sandwiches and sweets. These she concocted from ingredients, real Gruyere and very good salamis, she raided from her mother’s fridge. From stomach the route went direct to the heart.
It was a very warm December and she took me in my American wool suit to an opera at the Colón. It was the Fiery Angel by Prokofiev. With her, for us, it seemed to be a whirlwind kind of romance that would be thwarted, or so I thought, by a trip back to Veracruz, Mexico to visit my mother over the Christmas holiday.
A night before I left for Mexico I remember having an unsightly cold sore on my lower lip. In spite of it she gave me my first kiss and I floated all the way home to pack for the next day. She took me to the Ezeiza airport and I will not ever forget the shock of what I saw at the tarmac as I passionately kissed her goodbye. It was my airplane, a Braniff Boeing 707. I did not know then that the crazy Texas-based airline had begun a campaign of painting its airplanes in very bright colours with designs by artist/sculptor Alexander Calder. This particular 707 was not yet finished. It was all liveried up in shocking pink. I thought it had all to do with reality being affected by being in love so close to Christmas. It was a hallucination manqué.
Our romance was soon thwarted by an elderly violinist from the orchestra of the Teatro Colón. It was a wintery late afternoon when I received the phone call. I was much too despondent to even consider Kind of Blue this time around. I just cried.