We arrive late in the evening in Mazatlan, Mexico, a honeymoon spot for newlyweds. Our poor little Toyota RAV has been on the road since early morning, and we still have a long way to go. We are very tired, so we turn in at the first hotel we come across, the Hotel Oasis.
The rooms here rent out on a 12-hour basis for an extremely reasonable price, which seems odd to me. We have a large load on top of and inside the car, and we are glad to see that included in the price is a garage, which can be locked. We walk up the stairs and into a spacious, clean room. As I look around, I realize why these rooms are rented half day at a time. It includes a king sized bed with a large mirror on the ceiling above it, a sitting/viewing area with two couches, one facing the bed and the other facing the stripper's pole which stands very prominently on one end of the room next to the wash basin. On the night stand, in a glued down ash tray, is complimentary mints and condoms. There is a phone and a large tissue dispenser on the wall next to the bed. The ancient T.V. that sits on a rack just at head level has about eight channels, all of which are grainy with static except one channel, which comes in clear as a bell playing hard-core pornography. This channel is not on for more than a few seconds; Dexter, my Love, seems very uncomfortable with it and switches it off.
Many years ago, in this setting, the porn channel would be on for inspiration and Dexter and I would explore each other's bodies uninhibited. Sadly, however, time, weight, and gravity have taken their toll on me. Dexter heads for the bathroom to take a shower. I lie on the bed looking up at my reflection…..not the one I used to know and not the one my Love is "turned on" by anymore.
Dexter returns from the bathroom in his pajamas. He hardly glances my way, lays down next to me in bed and begins to read his book. I roll over and stare out the window…..it's going to be another long, lonely night.
Later, Dexter is snoring gently, and I hear soft music drift in through the window. I am not able to sleep, so I quietly get dressed and head for the door.
The night is very warm, and I wander toward the lounge store to get a bottle of water. The music I had heard through my window is just one man playing a guitar, quite beautifully, I might add. He stops playing when I walk up to the counter. It turns out this tall, handsome man is the night clerk. "May I help you?" he asks with a slight accent. A little flustered, I blurt out, "I'm so glad you speak English, my Spanish is not very good at all, although I plan to learn it eventually…..um, yes I would like a bottle of water please."
He puts down the guitar and hands me a bottle of water. "Is everything ok in your room"? He asks. I blush and answer, "well, yes I just couldn't sleep. It's a nice room, just not what I was expecting, you know with the pole and all." He flashes a bright and knowing smile. "This place is mostly for lovers; did you not come in with your lover?" Embarrassed, I open the bottle of water and take a swig before answering. "Yes I did, but…..we've been driving all day and he's very tired." I could not believe I was making excuses for our lack of intimacy to this man. He cocks an eyebrow. "And yet you cannot sleep?" I look down at my feet and shake my head.
He reaches under the counter and brings out a large bottle of Patron tequila and two shot glasses. "My name is Miguel. Will you have a drink with me? This might help you sleep." I look around. The place is deserted; everyone else is asleep at this hour. I feel comfortable with Miguel, his smile is captivating, and he seems genuinely concerned for me. "What the heck. Why not," I tell him.
He takes the bottle to the small table on the deck outside and pours the shots. We sit there sipping tequila, listening to the crickets sing. I can feel the warmth of the alcohol and I start to loosen up a bit. "My name is Deby, it's real nice to meet you", I tell him. He nods and says, "I'm glad you are here Deby. This time in my shift can be very boring, and tonight, here I sit with a beautiful woman drinking tequila." He pours two more shots. "Well, thank you Miguel, but really," I say. He looks up, "I am serious. You are beautiful." I down my shot and look away.
"You don't believe me?" he says. "Come, I'll show you." Miguel takes my hand and leads me back into the lounge. He stands me in front of the full-length mirror on the wall and behind me puts his hands on my shoulders. "You see?" he gestures toward my reflection, "there is a beautiful woman!" All I see is a beautiful man standing behind an old, fat, tired looking woman.
"Where Miguel, I don't see her." I say to him. He looks at our reflection and smiles. "You are not truly looking." He says. "This woman in the mirror, she is mature, yes?" "For sure" I say. "But this is wisdom," he says. "This woman also has eyes the color of the ocean, hair the color of the sun, and the physique of the Romanesque Goddess." I am speechless, and turn to look at my reflection sideways, then turn to the other side. After a long pause, I say, "Well Miguel, I think you may be exaggerating, but when you put it that way, I guess I'm not all that bad."
We return to the table outside, and Miguel pours two more shots. We sip tequila, talk, and laugh until Miguel's replacement arrives and I walk with him to his car. He hugs me and kisses me on the cheek. "It has been a wonderful evening Deby, and I wish you a safe trip." I look up into his eyes. "Thank you Miguel," is all I can say. I feel a sense of loss as I watch him drive away knowing I will never see this fine person again.
I return to my room just as the sun is peeking over the horizon. Dexter is still sleeping. I undress and slip into bed next to him, naked for the first time in years.
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