It was my dream as a young ‘bird’ of seventeen to engage in some sort of holiday romance, or ‘holiday shenanigans’ at the very least at some point of time in my life. It would be in a foreign land with an exotic-looking man with a sensual, panty-dropping accent.
I would often hypothesise this man with my friend. We both obviously envisioned a tall and muscular man, someone who spoke broken English with a ridiculously sexy accent, hair colour a cross between brown and olive, soft and wavy locks like Henry Cavill, high cheekbones, and a husky voice.
At age nineteen, it seemed like this might actually happen. I had flown down to California to visit my sister, Trisha. Having spent a rather dull and rainy few months after Easter in England, I was keen on getting some sunshine in California, perhaps take a few Instagram worthy shots of myself at the pool while Trisha went to work, and then go to quintessentially American joints like The Cheesecake Factory and rave about how massive the portions were.
However, when I landed, I was quickly made aware that the Californian sunshine they show you on the telly is a farce. Okay, not a farce, exactly, but apparently that kind of sunshine is primarily a Los Angeles thing and not exactly a San Fransisco thing, and in San Fransisco, it’s mostly windy. Still, Trisha had planned a trip into a cabin in the woods, which was exciting- unless, of course, the cabin in the woods turned out to be a plot for a murder many, many years ago and we were to be faced with the ghosts of disgruntled residents.
The disappointing weather notwithstanding, the first few days did turn out to be quite exciting in the end. I did end up going to The Cheesecake Factory in downtown San Fransisco and the portions were indeed massive (seriously, an American small is like a British medium, what is going on with the sizes there?). I also ended up paying a visit to The Melting Pot, where the handsome waiter flirted brazenly and commended my choice of wine- until he rushed back from the bar and asked for my ID and then refused to serve me any alcohol because I was nineteen (voting at age eighteen is okay but drinking isn’t? You know university students still drink, don’t you?). I went to a karaoke bar and sang every song to perfection- or at least what I thought was perfection. I went to Chipotle (and later found out we had Chipotle in England as well and it wasn’t quite the big deal I had made it out to be in my head). The holiday was shaping up quite nicely.
And then it was time for us to drive down to a cabin in the woods. At this point, I wasn’t particularly inclined towards taking a trip to a cabin that may or may not be haunted. As we drove down, the signboards indicated that Los Angeles was in the same direction as the woods, and I insisted ‘maybe we should just go to Los Angeles instead!’ Of course, we didn’t, and when we arrived at the cabin, the first exciting news of the day came to us.
‘My cousin from Mexico will be joining us, I hope it’s okay, he’s new here!’ said Antonio, a friend of Trisha’s.
‘Sure, no problem’, Trisha said, setting her things down on the table. ‘Where is he?’
‘He’s upstairs’, he said, turning to look at me. ‘And I hope you don’t mind, but he saw some pictures of you guys from the karaoke bar and he’s taken a liking to you’, he added with a wink.
I raised my eyebrows and grinned while Trisha turned to glare at Antonio.
‘I had one rule for you’, she said sternly. ‘Not my sister.’
‘I’m not doing anything!’ Antonio said, almost putting his hands up in defence. ‘It was an accident, I was just checking out the photos we took that night.’
‘You listen to me’, she turned to me. ‘You will not flirt with him.’
‘I’m not promising anything’, I said with a grin.
‘If it helps’, Antonio chimed in, ‘he doesn’t speak English.’
‘Problem solved’, Trisha smiled.
‘Love and connection don’t need a common language. Especially when translators exist’, I added, pointing at Antonio.
As we unpacked our things, Trisha continued to tell me how she wouldn’t be able to face Mum and Dad if something were to happen between me and Antonio’s cousin. Of course I wasn’t seriously looking for a whirlwind romance- I was just looking for some flirting. Some giggling. Some drinks. Maybe kissing. Maybe holiday sex if he had a condom, but nothing more than that. I wasn’t going to get caught up in emotion, so really I had no idea what she was so worried about. If an exotic, tall Mexican man with a sexy accent, husky voice, hair like Henry Cavill’s wanted to flirt with me, I was going to let him.
And just then we heard the creaking sound of the stairs, which meant Antonio’s cousin was stepping down and the mystery of how the night was going to end was going to be solved.
‘Angelito’, Antonio started. ‘Guys, this is my cousin.’
I stood up to face Angelito and it suddenly hit me exactly how far away from my dream of exotic Mexican man he really was. As I stood next to him, he was a few inches shorter than me, which naturally took away any excitement I had felt prior to meeting him, his accent was less sexy than I had imagined (in hindsight, I might have been thinking of an Italian accent at the time), and his hair reminded me less of Henry Cavill and more of Rico Rodriguez. I could sense that Trisha was happy that I showed no sign of attraction to him.
As the night progressed it became more and more obvious that Angel was looking for the sort of thing I had previously wanted with him when he was still a figment of my imagination. He kept topping up my glass with more margarita at every available opportunity and tutoring me on how to say his name correctly in Spanish, while poor Antonio had to translate his cousin’s flirtation to me.
‘He wants you to say his name’, Antonio sighed, almost facepalming.
‘Do I have to?’ I said, and smiled at Angelito.
‘He wants to know if you can say it right.’
‘Angelito’, I said. He smiled and then said something in Spanish. Antonio turned to look at him, rolled his eyes, heaved a heavy sigh.
‘Can you say his full name?’ he said.
‘If I must’, I said.
Angelito smiled again and said, ‘Angelito de tus suenos.’
Antonio smacked the table. ‘Ay, Angel…’ he continued in Spanish.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘He’s messing with you, he was trying to get you to say ‘Angel of your dreams’.’
‘Right’, I said. ‘Well, I’m quite tired, so I’m going to head upstairs.’
‘Sorry you didn’t get your holiday romance’, Trisha said later that night as we turned the lights out.
I chuckled. ‘I’m not sure I would have done anything to be honest.’
‘Still, might have been better if he at least spoke English so that Antonio wouldn’t have had to be a translator.’
‘Hey. Love and connection don’t need a common language’, I said with a small smile. Then, ‘They do, actually, they really do. That’s the bare minimum, a common language.’