I took the wife out the other day. Ooh, isn’t that nice? A date. Nah, first I took her to a doctor’s appointment. Then I took her to a pharmacy with a prescription to be filled. Then we stopped off at a supermarket to pick up a few items. That’s about the limit of the excitement in our lives….usually. This day then got a little stranger, but I’m not sure exactly how.
By the time we left the grocery store it was after 3:30 PM. That’s what we get for not rolling out of bed till nearly noon. We’d both only had a glass of juice and our “morning” pills. As I loaded the groceries into the trunk the wife asked me if I had any plans for lunch. Other than definitely wanting some, I said no. The grocery store is at the end of the plaza, perpendicular to the road. Then the buildings ell off, with a row of smaller stores at the back of the parking lot, facing the main road. About halfway down the row is a pizza shop.
The wife wanted to share a pizza. I thought she wanted to go in and sit down to eat. Since she’d already walked a fair bit for her, I decided to drive the car from the store side of the lot and park in front of the pizzeria. I cruised the line directly in front of it, but there were no open parking spaces. Back in the second row I spotted one, right where we needed it. Down to the end of the row, and back around to the second line, quickly, before someone else takes it, and pulled in. I had to park carefully. To my immediate left there were four people milling around their car.
I’d parked beside a Guidomobile, with two Guidos and two Guidettes around/behind/beside it. I don’t know exactly what make and model the car was. It was a bright red, small, two-door hardtop, had big wheels with low profile tires, a small whip antenna, which probably meant it had a stereo system worth more than my entire car. It had bucket seats, a center console and lots of dingly-danglies over the windshield. The whole bunch could have been the cast of Jersey Shores, dark skin, tight pants, muscle shirts, tattoos and lots of gold, mouth and attitude.
The wife said she wanted to take the pizza home and eat it there, so I went in and ordered and came back out to sit with her in the car, and wait for it to be ready. It was a warm, sunny day, so we both rolled down our windows. Now I could hear these people as they roamed around the little car, talking at and to each other. Gabble-gabble-gabble “dos Rios”? Gabble-gabble-gabble “amigas”? Gabble-gabble-gabble “caliente”? It sounded like Spanish, yet not. It didn’t have the imperious fullness of Castilian Spanish, nor the round mud-voice of Mexican pronunciation. This was tighter, quicker, more aggressive. They kept looking toward the entrance off the side street.
Finally, a guy came out and moved the car in the row behind them and opened up the spot I’d wanted. Parking spaces don’t stay empty long and the girls (25/30-year-old women) kept walking through and looking towards the side entrance. Suddenly joy was in the air, much shouting and waving. Another vehicle came down the driveway and parked behind them. Not exactly a car-crushing Monster-Truck out of an arena, but, I’d have needed a stepladder to get up into it. Black paint so shiny I could see seagulls reflected in it, and about a ton of chrome.
The driver swung down out of it and went to join his compadres. He’s dressed like his friends, loose patterned cotton shirt over a colorful t-shirt that says ECUADOR! Ah, it was Spanish, and that explains the accent. The women got close to him and carried on most of the conversation. Finally he reached into his pocket and pulled out the clichéd “wad that would choke a horse”. It was only folded over, but he still could barely hold it. After a bit more discussion, he flipped it open and began peeling bills off. I missed the first couple because I was trying to see if they were all hundreds; we can tell, here in Canada, because of our color-coded bills. They were merely twenties, but he counted out at least ten of them, and gave them to head-Guido’s tension-reducer. She stuck them in the back pocket of a pair of jeans so tight that I could read the serial number on the top one.
Happy happy, gabble gabble, the girls walked up and both got in the back seat. Heaven forbid a man should ride back there. Chrome-guy talked to the other two for a few seconds, then it was handshakes and macho hugs and they started for the car too. He followed them, still in conversation. I heard a question, and out came the wad again. He peeled off another twenty and leaned in the back window and offered it to the same gal. I understood some tentative, polite negatives. There were a couple of seconds of consideration, then the driver nodded and she took the money and stuffed it in her bra.
It was a good thing our windows were down. When the little tuner rolled away, the exhaust could have blown them out. Chrome-guy wandered around his toy, adoring it, while he finished a cigarette. Then he climbed up and moved it out, quieter than the car half its size.
What in Hell did I just see? What were these adults doing, hanging around in a parking lot in the middle of the day? Was this payment for a drug deal? They weren’t surreptitious, and nothing but money changed hands. Did Chiquita get paid for services rendered last night? Was the extra twenty a tip for something below and beyond the call of duty? Or is that blow? It was just so out-of-the-ordinary that I’m still curious. I wish I understood Spanish better, although with the regional accent, I’m not sure how much I’d have understood. Maybe Chiquita was Chrome-guy’s sister, and he just gave her money to buy mamacita a birthday present. Yeah sure, that’s it. Anybody want to take a guess?