June 13, 2005
| Beware of sweet nothings, ladies.
They just might amount to-well,
Juan and I
met in Mexico, his country of birth,
my temporary residence. Land of
love songs and laments, Mexico was
the perfect setting for a storybook
romance, and Juan was well-suited
to the role of his namesake, Don
my delight, my life," he'd
croon, looking deep into my eyes
with a fiery gaze that made my heart
smolder, "I love you with every
breath I take, I can't live without
you. You are the queen of my existence,
and I your slave."
not I believed Juan, I can't really
say. So dazzled was I by his declarations
of love, so mesmerized by the burning
look that accompanied them, discernment
failed me. Juan made me feel desired,
cherished, worshipped. His words
entered my bloodstream like an elixir
and made my heart cha-cha-cha. In
love with Juan's verbiage, I let
it work its magic and asked no questions.
Life with Juan
was all-day siestas and all-night
fiestas, serenades at my balcony,
roses at my doorstep, and Juan pinned
to my ear, cooing his inimitable
Mexican mating calls.
my heaven, my saint," he'd
tell me, letting the words trickle
down my earlobe like warm honey.
"I love you with every beat
of my heart. You're part of my very
being, as essential as the air I
breathe. If you left me, I swear
I would die."
I supposed I might one day, but
I was in no hurry. Life as Juan's
novia (sweetheart) was sweet
indeed. As long as the nectar in
Juan's tongue continued to flow,
I saw no reason for our idyll to
end. Latin courtships might last
months, years, long enough for me
to soak up volumes of Juan's odes
my soul, my treasure," he'd
whisper endlessly, growing bolder,
drawing me closer, so close that
I could see the facets in his eyes
glow like hot coals. "I love
you more than I love myself, more
than your own mother loves you,
more than—may the heavens forgive
me!—more than God Himself could
ever love you. I swear I would die
for most Juans, their words are
never put to the test. No doubt,
my Juan banked on the same luck.
But as fate would have it, circumstances
actually did thrust my very life
into his hands.
Juan took me to a small seaside
resort outside Playa Blanca where
we intended to spend a few quiet
days romancing to the rhythm of
the waves. The setting—white-hot
sand, placid sea, a caressing breeze—had
all the promise of a sultry summer
daydream. Shortly after our arrival,
however, a nasty storm blew in,
and the tide rose like a waterfall
in reverse. Out I ran to the beach
with Juan calling after me, "My
love, the sea she's mean. Don't
He was right.
I was no match for the waves. Tossed
about like a dummy, suctioned down
into the drink again and again,
I quickly felt my fight give out.
I was actually drowning. "Help
me, Juan!" I screamed. My mouth
filled with brine each time I opened
it. "Help me! Help! Help. .
mamacita, sweem!" Juan
I cried desperately, a dozen times,
a hundred, though Juan no doubt
had heard me the first time.
por Dios! Sweem!" he
repeated, matching me yelp for yelp.
The poor man
was beside himself, clearly. He
ran up and down the beach, weeping,
wailing; he tore his hair, waved
his arms, fell to his knees. . .and
never so much as wet the tips of
When a wayward
wave finally heaved me onto the
beach where he waited dry and safe,
I couldn't help but feel sorry for
him. Not meaning to, I had exposed
But Juan showed
no sign of embarrassment. To the
contrary, his face lit up and he
shed tears of joy.
my angel, my adoration. . ."
he cooed, riveting me once more
with his searing gaze as he tried
to lead me away.
Germaine W. Shames has written
from six continents—soon to add
the seventh—on topics ranging from
the Middle East crisis to Aboriginal
land rights. She is the author of
the critically-acclaimed novel,
Between Two Deserts, and her
articles have appeared in such publications
as National Geographic Traveler,
and many others.