Time to pucker up!

My patch of parasitic mistletoe.

A couple of months ago when we were still in winter and the bush — hibiscus, I think — in which this thing resides was still lacking its leaves, I noticed a patch of something green sitting there alone. Looks like mistletoe, I muttered as I continued on with life.

This morning, I took a photo using a plant-identification app and, sure enough, it’s mistletoe. I mentioned this to my child bride and, after the appropriate smootch below the mistletoe, she said she’d never heard of it. It must not be “a thing” in Mexico.

Hibiscus, I think.

The plant on which the mistletoe lives — mistletoe is a parasite — is, I believe, a form of hibiscus. The plant-ID app was unsure. When we moved into the Hacienda 18 years ago, it was living cheek-to-jowl against a loquat tree where some nincompoop had planted it. I uprooted it and planted it over thataway a bit, giving it space.

The hibiscus — and let’s assume that’s what it is — flowers now and then, kinda pretty, and it does not toss trash all over the place, so I’ve left it in peace. Longtime readers here know that I am a plant predator, quite the killer when it suits me, and it suits me when a plant becomes a nuisance, mostly by tossing trash.

When we moved here, there was a fig bush where one of the carports now sits, so it was removed, which is a shame because I like figs.

The skeletal loquat.

Not far off is the loquat tree which grew like mad, tossing loquats all over the place where they rotted on the ground. Tossed big, ugly leaves too, much like those of a magnolia, which is a yucky tree, I think, in spite of my being a son of the Old South.

Rhett Butler and all that.

Alas, my child bride is excessively fond of loquats and the tree on which they grew maniacally. But she didn’t have to deal with the constant mess and work, so her vote was of less value than mine.

I am a kind husband, however, so I did not remove it. I only cut it back, way, way back, and I maintain it as you see in the photo, a half-alive zombie.

When I die, she can let it go whole hog again and, believe me, it will.

It needs a trellis.

Let us further milk the gardening topic today. While the Hacienda was under construction in 2003, I planted five bougainvillea bushes along the property wall you see in these photos. Two promptly died. Of the remainers, one was very different. It does not go berserk, and at times during the year it’s all flowers. It’s my best bougainvillea buddy.

But the best gardening news of the day is that we have mistletoe, which gives my child bride another reason to kiss me, even though she’d never heard of mistletoe. You get your kisses where you can. That’s always been my philosophy.

Road to the pyramid

The V marks the very spot.

Following an occasional Hacienda tradition, we took a drive Sunday afternoon. We headed for the pyramid. On a distant day in 2002, I got down on my knee, just like in the movies, and proposed to the fine, young Mexican babe standing in front of me on that auspicious afternoon. She said yes.

The pyramid was built before the time of Columbus or rather, in our case, Hernán Cortés. Columbus never set foot in Mexico as far as we know.

It’s a nice ride through lovely land, and we skirted the town of Ihuatzio.

Nopal cactus behind a rock wall.
An inelegant gate to someone’s humble home.
That appears to be a pine or maybe a Christmas tree.
Entering the unfancy town of Ihuatzio.

It was a good end to the afternoon during which we earlier dined in one of our favorite mountaintop restaurants, a spot named El Rincón de Arrachera. I had sensational breaded shrimp and my child bride dived into chicken enchiladas topped with mole.

We missed you.

Getting it right, finally

MY FIRST TWO marriages failed, and maybe it was because of how I proposed to those wives. I don’t recall how I did it the first time though I do remember why. That was over half a century ago. But I do remember how I did it the second time.

We were in a restaurant on Westheimer Boulevard in Houston. I did not get down on one knee. I did not have a ring lurking in a champagne flute. There was no music. The waiters did not sing ‘O Sole Mio. I told her we should get married so she could get on my employer-provided medical insurance. She had no coverage.

She swooned. I was such a romantic guy.

We had been living together at that point for seven years.

Perhaps if ObamaCare had existed, we never would have wed, and I would have been spared lots of pain, grief and expense.

By the third time, I had learned, matured, wised up and sobered up.

I did get down on my knee, and I did have a ring. And where did I do it? Where these two pre-Hispanic pyramids join, right there at their base. You see it early in the video, the V between the two structures. That’s where it happened about 18 years ago.

And medical insurance had nothing to do with it.

A night in Santo Domingo

sunrise

I’VE BEEN IN lots of brothels: Port-au-Prince, Haiti. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, Mexico. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Barcelona, Spain.*

But I’ve never purchased the principal product, just the secondary, alcohol. I came close once,  however. A booze-fueled, Caribbean night in Santo Domingo.

I related this story years ago on a former website, but it’s vanished. If you remember, be aware that some details may differ. It’s been a long time.

Some things are fun to repeat, and I’m a fun fellow.

It started one morning at the airport bar in New Orleans. My traveling companion was an old French friend from years earlier. We’d met in the Air Force in California.

(Trivia: Sitting two stools down from me at the airport bar was Kris Kristofferson, but I pretended not to notice him. I was cool like that.)

We continued drinking on the plane, and by the time we landed in Santo Domingo we were well-oiled. We rented a car and drove to a downtown hotel. As night fell, we hired a taxi driver to take us to the brothel zone, which he did.

(More trivia: Dominican hookers were the most beautiful I ever saw, far outstripping the international competition from my experience. Just so you know.)

We continued drinking. My French friend partook of the wares but I, as always, took a pass. Sex that way has never interested me. Going to brothels was a sociological experience and a very fascinating one. But the night wore on, and I drank more.

And, Lordy, they were lovely.

Around 3 a.m., the two of us walked out the front door to hunt another taxi. At my shoulder I noticed a cute working girl who’d tailed us. She wanted to come along. I said yes, so we three took a cab to a restaurant and ate.

After eating, we caught another cab to the hotel. Somewhere along the line, I had decided to abandon my hands-off approach. We entered the hotel lobby, the three of us, but the hotel’s security man stopped us. Not the girl, he said.

My friend headed up to the room, and my companion and I walked back outside. Habitual drinkers, which I was at the time, can reach a state in which they’re quite ambulatory, steady even, but completely plowed at the same time. I was there.

We got into the rental car, and she gave me directions to “a place I know.” It turned out to be an old, two-story, wooden hotel on the beach highway. It’s about 4 a.m.

Things get foggy now. I recall entering the hotel. The girl was walking just ahead of me up a broad stairway. Behind me was a man, a hotel employee, I suppose. I suddenly got wary of the situation, suspecting I was going to be robbed or worse.

I changed my mind.

As we entered the room, I told the girl I had left something in the car and that I’d be right back. I turned on my heel, headed out the door, bounced down the stairs and leaped into the car. But she was right behind me. She didn’t want me to leave her there.

Okay, I said. Jump in. But she had left her shoes in the room upstairs. Go get them, I said. But you’ll leave, she replied, accurately. This exchange continued for a few rounds till I started to drive off. She ran around and jumped into the car without her shoes.

We pulled out onto the moonlit highway while she yelled, My shoes! My shoes! I braked and pulled over, opened my door, walked around to the other side, opened her door and attempted to pull her out. She grabbed the steering wheel. I could not extract her painlessly, so I gave up, returned to the other side and continued down the highway.

Twenty or so minutes later, we entered a downtown plaza. There was a parked police car, and two cops stood on the sidewalk. The girl stuck her head out the window and began yelling which, of course, caught the officers’ attention.

Deciding not to make a run for it, I just pulled over.

The girl got out and spoke to the police. We ended up driving back to the hotel. The girl and I led the way, and the police car followed. When we arrived at the hotel, she walked upstairs to retrieve her shoes while I and the smiling cops waited.

She returned wearing her shoes and told me to give the police some money, which I did, not wanting trouble and thinking myself lucky so far. The officers drove off, and I did too, with my companion. I offered to take her home, an idea she liked.

Ever the gentleman. It was the least I could do.

She lived in a low-rent area, of course. As we pulled up to her humble home, she asked, still hoping for some cash, if I’d like to come in. I said no, and asked how old she was. After so many years, I forget what she told me, but it was 16 or so.

As I headed alone back to the hotel, the sun was rising.

And I remain to this day a whorehouse virgin.

* * * *

* This was unintentional. My second wife and I entered, sat at the bar and ordered drinks before it became clear where we were. We did finish the drinks.

(A Christmas Eve brothel in San Juan. Plus another romance on the road, also a true story.)