|The nerd in Hawaii in middle 80s - Photograph Rosemary
For most of my life my relationship with women was all one-sided. I remember lifting the skirts of one of the Diligenti quintuplets, María Fernada, in my Buenos Aires kindergarten. And from then on I became much shier and I admired girls I liked, without approaching them. I would dream about them.
One of them was a tad forward. Her name was Susan Stone and her father was the general manager of General Motors in Argentina. She would send her father’s Cadillac to pick me up so that she and I could play in her mansion. We never played doctor, but I do remember that she showed me a new-fangled device called a television.
|Yours truly on the left. Susan Stone is laughing on right
In 1958, when I was in the 8th grade in a small
school (my mother was the teacher) in Nueva Rosita (a mining town), Coahuila there were three
grades in our room. I was in the 8th (6 boys) and then there was 7th
and 6th. I could not get my eyes off Ana María Ramos who was in the 7th.
I did dance with her once but I was such a terrible dancer that I felt awkward
not knowing yet that I would soon be called a nerd. She was not interested in any of the 6 boys of our class. Just about every day she was walked home by a young man called Romeo. She married him.
From 1958 to 1961, in my boarding school in Austin,Texas I was no better at attracting women as I could not dance. I went to the sock hops in our school basketball gym. I was a perennial wall-flower. There was one very short girl I adored called Judy Reyes. I somehow became brave and asked her to dance. I remember that it was a slow dance called A Summer Place (Percy Faith) which had been the theme of a film with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.
I was in the school band. I played the alto saxophone. At football games we were always next to the cheerleaders. One of them was Judy Reyes. It was then that I began to understand the wonders of underwear and I kept making sure I would watch her when she jumped.
Somehow I did get enough gumption to invite her to the
movies. By then I was in the 12th grade (grade 12 in Canada) and I remember
going to meet her parents. But the school year ended and I was gone. I found her a few years ago living in San Antonio. She sold (really!) cheer-leading equipment and was a hyper-born-again Roman Catholic.
In Mexico City I met, courtesy of my artist friend Roberto
Hijar, who was studying art at Mexico City College (I was unsuccessfully
studying engineering) a lovely short and blonde girl called Judy Brown. She was
cold with me but did accept to meet my mother in Veracruz. She kept telling me
about her boyfriend (Allan) in California. I was definitely a nerd with no future. Her claim to fame was that her father played tennis with Charles Schulz.
Hijar also introduced me to a girl called Benji. Her name was Benjamin. She was black and Jewish. She taught me a few interesting proceedings before I left for Buenos Aires in 1966.
|Yours truly, Benji and Roberto Hijar - Mexico City 1963
It was in Buenos
Aires, in 1966 when was a conscript in the Argentine Navy, that I discovered the
wonder of a woman who saw in me the
potential of not being a nerd . With friends we went to visit her and she was
in bed with a foot ailment. She asked to read my hand and she was correct in
many of her guesses. Corina Poore was my first real girlfriend. I often tell my
friends that my first girl was an Oriental.The reason is that she was born in
Uruguay and the official name of the country is La República Oriental del
Uruguay, as it happens to be on the Eastern side of the River Plate. Argies call
Uruguayans, orientales (nationalities are never capitalized in Spanish).
|Corina Poore - la oriental - Buenos Aires 1966
One day Corina said that she had a brother who had a ranch in the Province of Entre Ríos and he had a small plane he flew. She invited me for the weekend. But I had to get permission as I would be missing my Monday at the navy office. My friendly Argentine Marine Corps corporal, Cabo Moraña, gave me the permission with a proviso. He told me that I would have it on the condition that I would give him all the details when I got back.
In preparation for my trip I went to the best shoe store in Buenos Aires, López Taibo, on Calle Corrientes. I entered in my summer white uniform and told a very serious attendant that I wanted a particular pair of boots. He looked at me up and down (knowing that my military pay amounted to two Dollars in pesos) and said, “Are you sure you are in the right store?” From my pocket I showed him a crisp American 100 Dollar bill.
When the airplane landed on a dirt road, in an arid pampa, close to a town called Liebig (famous for making meat extract) we were met by a huge black Packard from the late 30s. We were taken to an estancia (Argie for ranch) that was surrounded by an old-fashioned wrought iron fence. Behind the fence was a huge Great Dane.
We had lunch at a large table complete with finger bowls. Corina told me we were going to go riding after. I proudly put on my new boots.
The Argentine saddle consists of a few sheepskins strapped on the horse with a cinch that has stirrups attached. I did not notice (I was a gringo which is Argie for a tenderfoot) and did not notice the horse puffed up it stomach. Not soon after I was on the horse, the horse stopped suddenly and the “saddle” went flying with me. The horse started kicking me. I had seen enough Westerns to know that my only escape was to roll and roll. But the horse did kick me in the eye and I had an instant black one. I spent most of the not too romantic weekend on a hammock on the veranda with Corina fanning my face.
You can imagine the incredulous Cabo Moraña not believing my story of the horse. In 1987 when I returned to Buenos Aires I went to López Taibo to see if I could replace my now worn out boots. And yes I was able. The same man who had sold my first pair attended me. He asked for my name and came back with a box that had my measurements.
Corina, unfortunately for me, had decided to go to London to study art. I went to see her off at the Buenos Aires port when as we know in those days, ships went to places because people want to go there.
Seeing my sadness she said, “Look up my friend Susana Bornstein. She will console you.” She did and here was another woman that saw in me more than a nerd. She did point out that I was uncultured and took me to the Teatro Colón for a couple of operas. She insisted we see the film Help!, but also to an extremely erotic Japanese film called The Woman in the Dunes.
|Susana Bornstein - Buenos Aires 1967
One day, a rainy, cold Buenos Aires weekend, she called and told me,”You are uncultured. You will never amount to anything. Don’t ever call me back. I have a new man, a violinist in the Colón Orchestra."
In 1987 I returned to Buenos Aires. I had found her with my early internet. I rang the bell. She opened the door and asked me, "Aren't you going to kiss me?" She died a few months later of cancer.
Lucky for me the next woman I met in December 1997, happened to be my Rosemary
Elizabeth Healey, who did not mind that I was a nerd. We were married February 8, 1968.
|Rosemary - Mexico City - 1968
But my past haunted me. We tried to learn the Argentine Tango. We got into fights on the dance floor during our classes. She abandoned her pursuit and I was left to become an efficient (no more) tango dancer.