25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

Visiting the Girl. Finally!


M
onday, December 5 has arrived. It is the day that Alberto will start to visit Angelita with the consent of her parents. They are no more "enamorados" (boyfriend/girlfriend) but now official novios (fiance/ fiancee).

At Angelita's house there are new curtains, a freshly scrubbed wooden floor, two new chairs and the children have been instructed that they must be in bed/ hammock before 7 p.m. Angelita has made the best of herself, making sure she put on her "chorros" (curls) which her novio loves so dearly.

Alberto, on the other hand, has put on his nice black pants, which he normally only used to wear for Easter. a white long-sleeved shirt tucked in, and he placed white handkerchief in his back pocket with a tip of it showing outside. He goes to the store or saloon to buy a pack of Spearmints or PK. chewing gum and some pepitos.

At 7 p.m. sharply, he heads towards Angelitas house, only a block away. Mrs. Lucia Rosado, the mother, greets him a goodnight and invites him to come in. Angelita shyly says, "Good Night" and sits down. Alberto sits beside her on a separate chair and both parents, Lucia and Ramon Rosado, sit down. The father lights up a Colonial cigarette and tries to start a conversation. He is not too successful. After Alberto offers the ladies some chewing gum, the mother is able to' start a fine conversation. Angelita gets a full pack of PK- chewing gum and she does not open it. She will save them throughout their courting period and will have several boxes in a few months time for sentimental reasons. By 8 p.m. the mother and the father leave the couple so they can have their private conversation and interact better between themselves. Whenever Alberto can steal a warm hug or a sweet kiss, he will do so.

If there were silence for too long, the mother would clear her throat loud enough to let them know that she is not asleep. If the nine o'clock hour had been long gone for some 20 minutes or so, the mother would come out and visibly put a broom upside down, very soon the visitor (any visitor) would have a strong urge, to go to the bathroom.

So in this manner Alberto and Angelita would court for a year or two. Eventually the mother would grow to trust the couple some more, enough to allow them more time on their own, at least long enough for some romance, but not long enough for sex.

Quite different from today, never would the boy be allowed into the girl's bedroom or any other room besides the living room. Never would a boy go to the dance alone with his fiancee. She would have to be chaperoned by her mother or some close relative. Never would girl go visit her novio at his house. That was an unthinkable insult. Never would a boy leave town to go anywhere in the company of his novia. That would have been the scandal of the day. Never would there be Public kissing and petting.

And would you believe it, with all these tight regimental rules, there was still some "hanky panky" at times. From time to time there was a teenage, unexpected pregnancy. Not like today, of course. Twenty-five years ago, when you heard about a wedding, you would ask, "When will it be?" Today when you hear about a wedding, you would ask, "Is she pregnant?" What was more common, though, twenty-five years ago, because the parents objected to many relationships, was chat a girl would elope (run away) with her boyfriend. They would agree that at 9 p.m. he would wait by her fence, receive a bag of clothes, and both run away to his house. That would be the unique exception with no formal dating, no letter writing, no pomp and circumstances. However, dating by visiting a girl daily at her house was a way of life twenty-five years ago, a way that is sadly missed today. By the way, the record time for visiting a girl at her home was 8 years.

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