My memories of this evening are a bit vague, and so I consulted with the lovely photographer Joey M., who was with me that night, only to find that her memories are even more vague than mine.
So this might not be quite as detailed as other Hack stories.
We were in Cuba with the sister-city group in April 1993, and one sultry evening we decided to go out and listen to some music.
I do not remember exactly where we went. We were outdoors, in a courtyard. In my memory it is enclosed by high walls, but I don't know if that is true; how would we have found it? How did we get there?
It was all locals, and us. People kept turning and smiling at us. The air was silky. the stars were bright. A Cuban band was playing samba-salsa guitar-and-drums and let's-all-sway our hips music. We were drinking Guayabita del Pinar, which is a local specialty--a rum-like drink made of berries that only grow near Pinar del Rio. This might explain the vague memories.
We were with two of the men from our sister city group, older men, grey-haired and distinguished, both of them thin and balding, with neat beards.
A man in the crowd was drawing pencil caricatures. He drew mine and it was passed to me hand by hand by hand through the crowd. He had gotten the curly hair and the droopy eyes right, but he had given me big square front teeth. I tried to pay him, but he smiled and waved my money away.
The band played. Two young Cuban women came over and took the hands of the greybeards. They led them out into the courtyard to dance. They were beautiful and lithe and wore snug shorts.
Two men came over to dance with Joey and me. She got the cute one. I got the homeless-looking one in greasy pants and an unzipped fly. Both men wore guayaberas, the Cuban shirts with the squared-off hems. My dance partner kept trying to pull me in close and then slide his hands up to grope me; I had to keep shoving him away.
We sat down again. The women leaned against the graybeards, stroked their thighs higher, higher, and whispered. The greybeards had some more Guayabita del Pinar. They beamed. They looked ten years younger. They wanted the night to go on forever.
The music kept playing. I refused to look at my dance partner. I hoped he'd leave.
The women whispered in Spanish to the graybeards. The graybeards beamed and had some more rum.
Finally Joey and I said we had better get back to the hotel. The women twined their arms around the graybeards; they wanted to come, too. The graybeards untangled the arms and kindly, sadly told them no; they told them gently, as though they feared they would break the women's hearts.
The women looked deeply annoyed. They drifted away. The four of us headed back to the hotel. The graybeards walked ahead of us and talked softly to each other. "I think they really liked us!" I heard one of them say.
Joey and I looked at each other. Should we tell them....?
The Cuban night was dark and starry. Bicycles whisked past, bells jingling. The streets were alive with people.
In the morning, at the breakfast buffet, the graybeards talked and talked about the night of dance and rum and beautiful women. "I think they really liked us!" one of them said again.
Joey and I looked at each other as we spooned out our fresh fruit, poured our coffee. Should we tell them....?
A note on the photo: Earlier that same night, at a Cuban restaurant. The waiter gave me a tour of the kitchen. The only thing in the refrigerator was a head of cabbage.
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