My Acapulco Admirer
Ages and ages ago, when I was about twenty, I went on a bargain vacation to Mexico.
A high school friend was attending college there, and she found a cheap hotel and I found a cheap airfare, and I met her over Christmas break for a week in Acapulco.
I had never traveled alone before – I had never even been on a plane before. But I went. I went alone to a foreign country and just hoped that my friend would be there at the airport to meet me.
I was happily terrified (a state that does exist, and it is not necessarily a bad thing), but I went. And after a long unhappily terrified hour alone in the airport – there was Patti, smiling and waving to me.
I made it! I didn’t even know I could be so brave.
There are so many things about the vacation that I don’t remember – after all, it was nearly fifty years ago.
I don’t remember the name of Patti’s roommate, who was also with us on vacation. I don’t even remember what she looked like, except that she was pretty.
I don’t remember how we got from the airport in Mexico City to Acapulco, but it must have been by bus.
We changed from the original hotel, which turned out to be worse than dreadful, without even working toilets, to a plain, but clean, hotel. And I don’t remember how Patti found us the better place. Or got our money back from the first one.
I don’t remember how we discovered that we could go through a small overgrown path from the public beach and end up on the fabulous private beach of one of the luxury hotels, where there were umbrellas and waiters. But I do vaguely think the unquestioning, doting, smiling waiters had something to do with Patti’s pretty roommate.
I don’t even remember how we got back to Mexico City and then back to the airport.
But I have one clear memory. And it is sweet.
I’m standing about knee-deep in the aqua Acapulco water. My friends are asleep on the lounge chairs that were reserved for the rich people we were pretending to be.
I’m wearing a skimpy string bikini – my first bikini ever; the only string bikini I would ever own (though I did not know it then). The sun is hot, and although I have tried to be careful, I am a little sunburned, and the lukewarm water feels soothing.
A man approaches me. He’s not a kid, but he’s not old. He’s maybe ten years older than I. He’s a man that you would not remember under ordinary circumstances.
He says, “Excuse me. But could I ask you for a favor? It’s nothing important, but it would mean a lot to me.” He’s American.
“What do you want?” I ask.
“I’d like to take your picture.”
I’m sure I look confused, because he blushes a little. He has no sunburn or tan. He’s very pale.
“It’s weird, I know. But it’s this: I’m really shy, and the guys back home tease me about it all the time. How I can never talk to a girl or anything. So I was hoping to take your picture and show them when I get home that I talked to you. Maybe even dated you.”
He adds quickly, “But not really. I’m not trying to pick you up. Because the guys are right. I’m too shy. But I’d really like to make them stop teasing me.”
I don’t even think about it.
“Okay,” I say.
I walk through the water a little closer to him. I put a hand to my hair and I give him a huge smile. Like I am flirting and smiling at a lover.
The man takes several shots.
“Thanks,” he says. And he turns and walks away from me.
I never saw the guy again.
Because these were the days long before digital cameras and cellphone cameras, I have no idea whether the photos came out well.
I hope so.
I look at that moment – all these years later – and I see it through a different lens. I thought back then that he was a shy man trying to impress his friends, maybe even make them a little jealous. And he was, but I see something more.
There were lots of beautiful women on the beach in Acapulco. Patti was prettier than I was, with a much better figure. Her roommate was prettier than both of us. And all those rich girls who didn’t have to sneak onto the beach like us – who took such precious care of themselves -every one was perfection.
I think that this man chose me because I was not beautiful. He never would have been able to approach those lovely women. And his buddies would never have believed him.
He asked me because I was not beautiful. Oh, I was not ugly, far from it. But I was no beauty either.
What I was – was approachable.
I looked nice. I looked happy. I looked like maybe the kind of girl a shy man might actually get to know. A girl who might like him. Appreciate him.
And I do.
BONUS: I have a short story published on Medium.com. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it. “Aggie’s Genes”
So clear that this happened before the internet – where your photo would have ended up heaven knows where. It’s so much harder for young people these days, I think.
And congratulations on your short story!
That’s true! Remember when you had no idea how your photos turned out until you got them back? And I can’t believe I traveled to a foreign country without knowing how to reach my friend if she wasn’t there.
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What a wonderful memory – the spark for a new novel, perhaps?
Oh… that might be fun! I am working on one right now – the main character is a middle-aged woman who leaves her family to join a commune.
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A beautiful and sweet memory. It’s very attractive trait to be approachable, make no mistake about that.
I think so now. I think about that really shy man, and how he felt he could ask me. It was a wonderful compliment.
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What a lovely memory. I’m sure your assessment of him was correct. It’s too bad there’s no way for you two to cross paths again. It would be interesting to hear his side of the tale and whether the photo turned out okay. 🙂
I hope he has a good story that he tells his friends now.
I love this story, for so many reasons! The honesty and kindness just shine through….
Ahhhh, the age of inocence. That couldn’t happen today. Not with all the really nasty things going on in the world “instantly” . It is a beautiful memory because I see it exactly as you did. Those days we could hitch-hike cross country without a care in the world. We never thought twice about talking to someone. It was a different time and a different world. I miss it.
Think you outdid yourself, my friend. A very very good story. Feel good, tinkle memories of days gone by, tempting locations — you brought it all back.