Friday, March 27, 2009

The Cuban/Misses Crisis

My mother is a great source of stories, since she was somewhat of a quiet rebel in her day. She was a bit like Lucy I guess, and her “Ethel” was usually her lifelong friend, we'll call her, ahhh, “Miss House”, to protect her identity. Sort of.

Back in Texas City in the early Fifties, there was a semi-pro baseball team. On this team was a catcher from Cuba who apparently caught Miss House’s eye, and vice versa. She asked her mother if she could go on a date with him; her mother said, “Only if Lila goes.”

My mom got the message and as was her nature, she didn’t “ask” her parents. She knew they would instantly say “no”. Grandaddy would likely not only say “no”; there would no doubt be some expletives accompanying the declaration, for emphasis.

This catcher had a cousin that they fixed my mother up with. The catcher was handsome, how much worse could his cousin be? Turns out, he could be pretty ugly. On reflection, my mom says he looked a lot like Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president who is so gracious to our country. Thick, inside-out lips and bad skin, Mr. Cousin was not what anyone would consider a prize by any standard.

The date did not involve a long ride to anywhere, but the catcher, being tired from his duties at home plate, asked if Miss H would like to drive his convertible. She jumped at the chance since she loved to drive, and my mom and Hugo took the back seat.

Miss H recalls the experience with fits of guilty laughter; glancing in the rearview mirror at my mother, the wind whipping the scarf covering her hairdo, one hand trying to control the thrashing silk, and the other hand fending off her date’s relentless octopus advances. All the while, the handsome catcher was snoring like a sawmill in the passenger seat.

There aren’t too many details about the rest of the night available, but it’s likely that not too much more time was expended on the fiasco. Judging from the fact that my mother never spent any time in prison, it is clear that she never got the chance to reward the Cuban cousin in a manner befitting his behaviour as I am sure she wanted to that evening. It is also clear that my grandfather never heard of the incident, judging from the fact that there was no ugly Cuban reported shot to death and dumped in Galveston Bay.