Something Strange...


Diana finished the desert and got ready to leave. She asked permission and hurriedly rose from the table without waiting for an answer. Recently, this scene had begun to occur frequently. Diana avoided leaving enough time for her father to get wrapped up in the same recommendations: Pay close attention to whom you're going out with. He should be a good boy from a decent family like ours. He should respect you. Yes, and from the very beginning you should make him respect you. That first and foremost, said papa, infallibly. Diana had had it with so much advice. For the last ten years I've been hearing the same thing! Last week she turned twenty-five. That was the day of the big fight with her mother. After a great deal of begging without any positive results, her mother prohibited her once and for all from continuing to see Juan Jos_. OForget him, please. That man is not for you. He doesn't step in our house. He doesn't speak with your father. One can see at a distance that he's into something strange. He doesn't look at our eyes when he says hello. That's a bad sign, Diana. If you're an intelligent girl, why don't you admit that it's dangerous to go out with someone like that? Your unawareness frightens me! That reckless attitude doesn't go with you. I forbid you from ever seeing him again! wailed her mother at the end, in front of the disdainful gestures of her daughter. Diana laughed at the anguished words of dona Isabel. She left, slamming the door behind her. It shredded her nerves that her parents had the habit of interfering in her life. She was of age, and very much the owner of her own acts. The string of nonsense that her mother argued about were filled with archaic reasonings, old-fashioned and good only for old people. By chance they ran into each other at a pastry shop in Villa Morra and from there, Dona Isabel had encountered him a few more times circling the neighborhood. She wasn't close enough to him to judge, but nevertheless, she stuck the knife in to hit whatever she could ... Although the worst thing was the threat of telling her father. There the thing would get hairy. If mama was puritanical and antiquated, her father was about a century and a half even more outdated. Also, tending to get violent, it was very difficult to make Don Heriberto be reasonable. When something got into his head... "Get a grip, Diana, no one wins against someone so pigheaded." So, the best thing was to avoid whatever friction that would put him in action. Of course, her major problem had to do with finances. Because her salary wasn't enough for her to have the freedom to live apart from her parents, she had to put up with all their doddering ways! And in the Bank they didn't give her a promotion. It was going on four years already and her position of cashier stayed unmovable. Only men prospered there. Even the elevator guy went from being a checking account assistant to have a skyrocketing career. It was just as well that Juan Jose had a good income and that they'd get married soon. Of course, quiet and without telling anyone. Juanjo loved being mysterious, and it was convenient for Diana for it to be that way, because if he knew about it, her father would start a huge scandal. Don Heriberto still believed in white knights and was confident that he could land one for his younger daughter. So, behind their backs, the couple went searching for an apartment or small house to rent. Only Diana couldn't quite figure out the taste of her fiance. The two went visiting houses, small and big, without coinciding with what Juan Jose had on the subject. Either they were too far from downtown or very close to mama or very big for two people or very small for the price. Finally, they couldn't agree and for that reason, the wedding was postponed indefinitely. If she were not convinced of the good intentions of her fiance, she would think that he was delaying things deliberately. But if there was something unpremeditated in Juan Jose, it was his great indecision. The reason? An inner snag that did not immediately come to light. Another thing that looked very dark in respect to Juanjo, seemed to be that question of his three sons that he had ... Juan Jose swore that the mothers were rich and pretty old. That they never asked anything to pay for the children. And that, very much to the contrary, the paternity had actually benefitted him. What was more, he also assured her that they were children by order, that love didn't play a part. It was something more along the line that they viewed Juan Jose as a purebred stud bull, and they hired him to impregnate two decadent cows in heat with a lot of money. Naturally, each one with a scheduled time. This was one thing for sure that Diana's parents would not understand, even though she had, very painfully, gone on assimilating it far and wide through their engagement. Today, weighing heavily on her, Juan Jose's two exOs continued being a painful thorn in the side of the emancipated Diana. Above all, in the moment that she had them behind her. And this occurred more often than necessary. From one time to this part, both women invited them to have Sunday lunch with them. They got together at a trendy, snobbish restaurant right at one. They were never missing a single player at the one-act farce: the twin boys, the eight-year old, their respective bejewelled and plump mothers, and the two of them, Diana and Juan Jose. This morning, for example, Diana was running a little late. She had taken the precaution of eating lunch in her house before taking off for this strange encounter. It was that her stomach turned every time she swallowed in the presence of these packaged and bragging women that recommended to her, as to a poor idiot, that she marry Juan Jose as quickly as possible. A really great guy who was very accommodating, they said. Special candidate for those who didn't even have a place to fall down dead. There wasn't any problem, they were entrepreneurs and successful business women, with ranches or something like that. We will deliver Juan Jose to you well-padded and happy, the promised without fail. Everyone will envy our luck, owing perhaps, to the reproductive gifts of Juan Jose, thought Diana, tormented, as she turned to go to her famed Sunday date, sweating and running along under the hot sun. She only needed to turn the corner and within a few short moments, there would be a shift in the chatter of those two older women who at all costs would try to convince her to take on the burden. Apparently, the two were trying to get out from under as soon as possible the aforementioned Juanjo. If mother saw her at this critical juncture, she would become even more sad. Her mother would be horrified because of her. Depression was undermining her to the point that one could see she was physically worsened. The tearful eyes of Dona Isabel had lifted up to try to detain her for less than an hour, there in the family dinner table, but, cowardly, she remained quiet. She had only showed time and time again that it was useless to fight. Nevertheless, she made a mistake. The silent pleading had taken ownership of the reflective time of her daughter, and there she remained collapsing, collapsing... OMom won!O exclaimed Diana in sudden, self-reproaching fury. OI don't want to marry Juan Jose and his suffocating court of women running out of time.O Then, she made a half-turn and, searching the shade of the blossoming orange tree, she changed her track, turning her back once and for all on the gigolo.