It makes me cringe!

Valentine’s Day

I have just lived through three generations of embarrassment without leaving my chair or saying a word.

Last night when I came home from a stroll through the village, the young woman of the house was perched on an upturned garbage basket talking to a young man seated in his car next to her.  With the car door open, she created a bower from which to talk, surrounded by trees and vines .

I knew exactly what was happening.  She couldn’t sit on the front porch, because for this month it is MY front porch.  She couldn’t take him through the huge metal garage doors into her living area because, “Oh my God!”  Her father is always there, swinging in a hammock and watching television on high volume.  Her mother is doing wash by hand on the concrete washboard and they would have to visit with her younger sister.  How embarrassing!

This beautiful girl, home from a break at college, celebrated her 20th cumpleaños this past week. (The rawish fat pork skin taco I was honored to eat in celebration is another story.)  She is much past the marrying age of most girls in this village.  But then, she has been sent away to school since the 8th grade.

And I can see her discomfort in falling back into home life.

It began again this morning.  The young man returned.  He went to the iron doors and called, but didn’t enter.  I tried not to move or catch attention since I was sitting on my front porch in my pajamas; fully covered, but still…

With the young man still hanging around outside the open doors the father began his morning ritual.  He started and revved up the Volkswagen-bug-turned-mini pickup.  The unmuffled motor caught, sputtered, and roared to life again several times.  At last he started out of the enclosure.  Bang!  He ran into the metal door.

The young man ducked out of harms way.  He was keeping a pretty low profile, too.

During all of the hubbub the mother went out and came back with a bucket of fish.  The little sister flounced to the store making eyes and grinning at the young man.  And I escaped into the house to spare them all the required greeting to someone who would respond with poor Spanish.  Bad enough that he probably saw the  “Yo Heart La Barra” sign taped to my front door.

Today they sat in the car for two hours with the motor running in order to have a sort of privacy and togetherness away from a family that lives its daytime life in a palapa style restaurant in a village that lives its life on its streets.

This is such a classic situation.  It doesn’t matter if her boyfriend comes from the same background.  It doesn’t matter if her family courtyard strung with clotheslines and piled with soiled laundry and dirty dishes is a step up for him.  For her it is an intolerable embarrassment.

This parallels so many memories of mine.

Lying down on the back seat of the car as my parents drive through town on a Friday night so that I won’t be seen with them.

Watching my son’s guarded face as we greet him and his friends at a ball game.

Hearing my daughter try to explain away my inappropriate comment to her group of friends.

Shuddering for my daughter as she tries to hustle her date out of the house while her father and brothers line up in the front hall.

Seeing my grandson’s face as his mother tells some story from his childhood in front of his friends.

Hearing my granddaughter’s titter as she and her friends look over their shoulders, gladly leaving the family group.

We’ve all been there…and we’ve all been there.


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