Christmases past

(I wrote the following a few years back. It describes a Christmas Eve I experienced 46 years ago in a San Juan, Puerto Rico, bordello. It is a true story. The video above was shot just a couple of years ago here at the Hacienda. And it’s true too.)

* * * *

The Fancy House was a hair up San Justo Street from the Malamute Bar. I often headed to the House after work, about midnight or so. I went for two reasons:

Amateur anthropology and cuba libres.

The Fancy House was a social study, fascinating in part due to downing cuba libres till the walls started dancing before my eyes. A tango at times. Often a waltz.

Most of the working girls came from the Dominican Republic across the Mona Passage. But some came from South America, flown up by Latino gangsters with a contract to fulfill.

The young lovelies learned to ignore me sitting solo at the bar facing the twinkling lights framing the broad mirror, with cuba libres and the waltzing walls, dancing before my eyes. All the lovelies save one.

South American, she had milk-white skin with freckles and long black hair. She was bright and liked to talk, a rebellious and adventurous lass, hardly out of her teens, there on a lark. The kind of girl to give nightmares to a wholesome mama.

One December night she walked to my bar stool and handed me an envelope. Inside was my only Christmas card that year.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It touched me.

The walls ceased swinging . . .

. . . and started singing Silent Night.

18 thoughts on “Christmases past

  1. Felíz Navidad, señor !

    You probably much deserved that Christmas card, you just did not realize it. Or at least she thought you did, and that’s what mattered.

    May you have as many silent nights as you can enjoy and swing to the waltz beat it conveys.

    Saludos, señor


    1. Ricardo: Sure, I deserved it! She went on to leave the trade and move in with me. She never returned to the place. She’s a granny now in Buenos Aires with three kids and some grandkids. Runs a taxi business. I’ve seen her Facebook page. She looks like hell. Oh, well. She didn’t then.

      Felíz Navidad to you and yours also.


    1. Marco: Yes, I was glad to find that video. It’s really good. He’s a strange guy. I read some background on him yesterday. Seems there is some evidence that it’s all an act and always has been, the whole persona, that’s he’s really just a normal guy. Been married to the same woman for decades.

      What’s Santa gonna leave in your stocking tonight?


      1. Santa is bringing me a gorgeous ex-dancer to snuggle up with and celebrate the coming Christmas morning. Life is good 😊


        1. Marco: So you’re getting to the age that current dancers have no interest in you? Sad. Well, no matter. A former dancer is better than no dancer. But wait! Is it Dancer that’s one of Santa’s reindeer? That must be it. Has Dancer retired and been replaced by a younger, more robust reindeer, perhaps with a different name? That could be it because I no longer keep up with Santa’s doings.

          Well, anyway, enjoy Christmas morning. You deserve it. Fa-la-la-la-la!


      2. Wow, amigo, I just watched your video in your home. You’re still looking good for an old fart! Would be nice to hear you speak sometime. 😊


        1. Marco: Yeah, I’m holding up fairly well. The video was taken two years ago, however. The main effects of the years are that I am stiff for a few seconds on standing up if I’ve been sitting for a good spell. Other than that, I could be mistaken for a coot of 45, I think. I noticed that I squatted for a few seconds in that video. I wondered if I could still do the same. I stood up, walked around the room, came back to my desk, and did it. Alas, it was not really easy. Getting down was not bad. Getting up like I did in the video was more of a challenge. Life moves on.


  2. I was surprised to learn the other day that Tom Waits had a regular gig at a local roadhouse back in the 1970s. But then a lot of semi-famous people, especially of the more eccentric type, have New Mexico connections. For example, Bo Diddley was a sheriff’s deputy in a small town south of here in the 1970s. But I’m not sure I believe Waits is a “regular guy.” The story I remember him telling is that his daughter quit asking him for homework help in her history class because he made up a war.


    1. Creigh: Yes, I’m a little suspicious of the report that he’s a regular guy. I think he is what he seems to be, a slightly deranged fellow with a heck of a singing style. Always liked him. Pretty good actor too.

      Felíz Navidad.


  3. I met Tom Waits a number of years ago while building a small stable on a property near his in northern California. He apparently had horses and was looking to upgrade his facilities. The old first-growth redwood we were using had caught his eye. He asked for my business card but, disappointingly, I never heard from him. He is pretty down to earth and has an enviable wit. He spoke with me and my crew briefly, but he and my customer held a pretty interesting conversation in our presence. Cool dude. Very smart man.


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