Friday, August 27, 2010

Love at 83 - Part 4

[Please read Parts 1-3 first!]

In my long lifetime, I’ve seen lots of different kinds of couples getting stared at and jeered walking down the street together. When I was young, a man being smaller than his wife was all it took to inspire wisecracks. Later, a white person with a Negro, as they were called (with respect!) at the time, was enough to make steam come out of rednecks’ ears, and cruel epithets out of their mouths. Nowadays, you can’t walk a block without seeing an interracial couple, often with gorgeous like mocha kiddies, but if a queer couple should venture holding hands out of their own part of town, they’re apt to get bashed.

I’ve come to be able to sympathize retroactively with all these different kinds of couples since Consuelo and I started dating. If a black man and a white woman caught a world of flak in 1965, I can’t imagine that it was an awful lot more than a girl in her early 30s and a fellow of 83 caught in 2010. A fair number of people either didn’t notice, or pretended not to, but you should have seen the disgusted scowls on the others, and heard the things they said, one of the gentlest of which was, “If she was my daughter, I’d break both his arms.” They called her a gold-digger. They called me a cradle-robber. They called both of us perverts. I was glad Consuelo didn’t understand a word of it, though I couldn’t dare hope she failed to understand the hateful expressions.

My kids were predictable skeptical about the romance. Todd set up a conference in Yahoo Messenger for the four of us. By the time I figured out how to use the damned thing, they’d started without me. They agreed that Consuleo must be after me for my money. It was very heartening knowing the little brats didn’t think a woman could be attracted to me for anything other than my savings account. When I said I wanted to rent a little place for the two of us, it was as though I’d told the kids I intended to have their mother’s remains dug up and used to fertilize the back yard. But I held firm, and they agreed to my withdrawing three months’ expenses from the family trust fund.

It was hard finding a landlord that would rent to us. They all figured I might kick the bucket at any moment, and that they’d be left trying to collect any money owed them from someone who doesn’t speak English. I had in the end to pay for three months in front.

We got into a routine. After breakfast, Consuelo would help me out to a green plastic chair beside our front door in which I’d sit until late afternoon, until she got back from her new job as a wet nurse at a child care center. Then she would have a long cry because she missed her husband and children back in Honduras so much, and fix us some dinner. I’d usually fall asleep while eating, and then she’d spend the evening watching one of the Spanish language channels. We had a choice of three.

I think everybody expected that I’d be the first to leave the relationship, owing to natural causes, but it turned out she left it, because of unnatural ones; a few nights after we celebrated our one-month anniversary, she was killed by a stray bullet when a few little hoodlums started shooting at each other in the Laundromat where she took our laundry every week.

The kids had a hell of a time getting me back into Golden Years, not that I was in any great hurry to go back. In fact, not three weeks after they re-admitted me, I’d died of boredom, though on the form they blamed pneumonia. If people told the truth on those forms, even heartless little brats like my kids would hesitate to put their parents in such places.

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