Carmen was as
pretty as Salma
It was 1957, and
San Pablo's Rancho
movie was an exciting
place, because it was in California, and yours
truly had hardly ever left his little hometown in
Washington state. The girl behind the goodie
counter was outrageously good looking with lovely
brown eyes and beautiful raven locks.
was a confident, good looking teen, and smiled my
"Can I get
you something?" Carmen said with a gorgeous
Was this a California girl or what? I thought.
"Small popcorn and a coke," I said with great
charm. After all, I was a charming boy. Big
blue eyes, nice hair, the works.
(I heard someone say her name) turned to get the
goodies. She obviously was beautiful top to toe. I
mean really beautiful, kind of like Salma Hyeck .
When she came back, she set the stuff on the
counter, and I paid her.
your name?" the beautiful Carmen asked
much. I came down from Washington to live with my
live in San Pablo?" she asked.
He and my Uncle Art live together right now. Dad's
gonna get his own place soon. I looked directly
into Carmen's eyes. Beautiful brown eyes. "Would
you like to go out with me sometime?" I
possibility of outright rejection loomed in my
mind. You are dumb, Freeman, I thought. But
the query was out, and Carmen was just looking at
go out with ME?" she said with apparent confusion
and amazement.. You go with ME?"
you kidding? I'd consider myself very lucky to be
going out with you," I told Carmen.
sure? I mean, you haven't noticed anything
different about me?" she continued.
was a bit nervous. Was this Carmen' s way of
rejecting guys she didn't like? "Carmen you're
beautiful. Any guy would love to be with
eyes opened wide. "Of course! I'd love to go out
with you, too!" she said.
I was overjoyed. "What about Saturday, here
at the drive in?" I said.
I hardly ever get to see the shows, even though I
work here! " She gave me her address. It wasn' t
really far from my uncle's house.
grabbed the goodies, gave her a big smile, and went
back to my car, which was already inside the
theater. Carmen had let two different parties wait
while she talked with me!
rolled around, and I picked Carmen up at her home.
She lived there with her parents, and the house was
nicer than Uncle Art's. We chit-chatted as we drove
to the drive-in. She was bubbly and easy to talk
with. I was one happy boy as I paid for our tickets
and moved my car forward.
window was still rolled down. Then, from out of
nowhere, a swarthy guy lunged forward, almost
sticking his head in the car. He held a small
chrome colored cylinder in front of my face, and
was yelling with spittle and rage.
don' speak Spanish? Joo know what this is, focker?
Do you focker? It's a focking dynamite cap and I'll
set it off and blow off your pretty face, focker.
Carmen' s MY girl, focker, and she don' go out with
no Gringo fock like you!"
I didn't..." I stammered. The deadly cylinder was
inches from my eyes.
you goin' with this gringo focker, Carmen? You like
pretty white boys? You hurting me bad! I gonna blow
us all up godammit, Carmen!."
No! No! I'll get out and go with you. I just made a
mistake. He's a very nice boy! See? I'm sitting
'way over here! We didn't do nothin!"
then the palaver continued in Spanish, which I
didn't understand at the time. I was, after
all, an innocent, young Washington apple unaware of
stuff like tense race relations.
get the fock out of his car and I won't blow him
up," said Raul. He moved his head into the light.
The skinny little man had a well trimmed mustache,
long curly hair combed up like an Elvis, dark skin,
and black eyes that burned like little coals in his
no ceremony, Carmen got out of her side of my old
Chevy and shut the door behind her. She went around
to Raul, put her arm around him and said, I' m
sorry mijo, the white boy he just
seemed so nice."
put his little chrome cylinder in his pocket as
they walked off, each with an arm around one
another. How could a dork like that land a girl
was a Mexican!
Spanish! That's what she had been getting at
during our first meeting when she seemed surprised
I'd ask her out.
to me it was an Elvis movie that I watched all by
myself at the drive-in. I wondered how that asshole
Raul could have known Carmen and I would be driving
through the gate at that exact time. Maybe someone
in Carmen's family tipped him off. But I really
didn't need to jump into that tar pit at this point
in my life.
never saw Carmen again---though over the years I've
dealt with a few Rauls.
to read vignette #3