ALAN L. GOODIN—THE CUSTOM

The Custom

As evening approaches slowly over the now empty and quiet Plaza Santo Domingo, the historical Baroque Church in the Centro de Oaxaca de Juarez, as the warm afternoon sun slips behind the blue turning pink, then gray and darkening sky only to be replaced by man`s nighttime sun, Edison`s gift, the light bulb, most so dim it is conceivable they are the same ones he invented.

I notice the people beginning to return to the streets, stores and church as though someone exclaimed, “time’s out siesta over,” and everyone who had gone home returned. It was the custom, and historically, that is what México is about; not logic or time, but the custom.

As people fill the streets and walks and assume positions around the church, under the always watchful grace and eyes of God, I begin to see the faint shadows of a young couple cast upon the ochre church walls. The pale yellow glow cast by old and tired light bulbs were warming the interiors of the old colonial lamp posts spreading a thin veil of gold upon the old church walls and steps.

A young couple, strolled up the dimly lit steps of the church to a wall and sat; she with her back towards the street and he perpendicular to her side, legs spread, dangling over the long cantera green stone wall. Sliding closer towards her, he places his left arm around her shoulders, whispering, while pulling her towards him, gently but with a steady firmness.  Head lowered, she glances to her left and right as if to see if everyone is watching while he steals butterfly kisses on her neck while she slowly squirms and twists.  My curiosity increases, wondering if she is looking to see if everyone is watching because she wants their privacy to be known that she is in God`s presence, seeking onlookers to report home that she met her lover in the traditional style. It is the custom.

She continues her turning, sublimbly, but coyly assured that everyone has seen them. And then, with firtatious eyes, she looks towards him.  She relaxes, tilting her head and face, accepting the little kisses but acting as though they were unwelcome gifts of flirtation. Fully turning his way, she kisses his cheek with small kisses that gently brush against his lips.  The boy, pulling her closer, tries for longer tastes but she pulls back, as if to say “Ya Basta!, enough,” but he pulls her tightly against his chest. His left arm lowers to her back and begins rubbing her shoulders and back. She turns away, always aware that passerbys are making note of their embraces.

Curiously I watch and note the acts of young lovers, yet uncomfortable, as if this public display ought to be prívate, yet enjoying the scene, as if I were watching some private movie held under the stars. His hand slowly begins to move down her back, always slowly, but always moving lower to her waist, not so much to hold, but as if to see where it would lead.

I lean back against the wall of a building placing myself in the shadow of a closed tourist shop, encouraged by the delights to my eyes, the warm breeze and a few passersby.

They kiss more passionately and his hand slides up under her blouse and begins to rub her back, her bare skin under the thin material of her candle-white blouse turned orche by the dim bulbs lighting the scene.  She places one arm at her left side and the other around him. They kiss again and she pulls away, as if to say “Not now, not yet, not here” as his other hand reaches towards some unseen place on her front.  He pulls her back and her left arm quickly lifts to where his hand is on her stomach.  I see her hand push his away as though it had offended some part of her being.  She looks up towards a fresco of the Virgén, then crosses herself, as though they had communicated and reestablished the fact they they still had one thing in common.  They stood up and she gave him a long and deep kiss, smiled then laughed, while pushing him away while holding his hands.

He looks at her, eyes sad, cast downward, looking around as if he`d loss something. I wonder what was the offense but realized, as men do, he feels rejection, briefly, but understandably forgiven. God, the church and the Virgén had been there for hundreds of years. The couple would be back tomorrow,  mañana, a la noche in the dim yellow light, I supposed, in front of God and everyone.  It is the custom.

Alan L. Goodin (5.3.10) Org, Feb 7, 2001 ©

2 thoughts on “ALAN L. GOODIN—THE CUSTOM

    • Hi Dianna, Thank you. My site was down until today 30 Nov. Now we’re up and running. Thank you for your comment, Alan

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