|The Ballet Scene|
|A Mad Obsession|
The youngest of my siblings had been born in October of that year [two of his children, the youngest one of those two also bearing his name, would later be born on the same month] and me and my sister, the only one we ever had, took off to the recently inaugurated Cine Gavidia to see The Red Shoes.
Siblings by mother only [Mayita had been a single mother until meeting Payito, my father], Gloria Marina was 10 years older than me so read that part of my taking a girl out to the movies as more of a ruse of hers to distract me and to make me stop fretting about being unable to enjoy Mayita’s attention because she had just delivered a boy.
Tall for her generation, my sister was then a slender, busty teenager that had just started working as a secretary. Not only could she type — fast — and take dictation by stenography but she also had the best Palmer calligraphy that I had known at the time. Her handwriting was even better than Mayita’s, which for me was telling a lot — nope, while mine was never too shabby, I didn’t get either one’s ability.
We are talking about 1954. Movie offerings at the time in hot and steamy San Miguel — way way far in Eastern El Salvador — were mostly Mexican fare.
Since English-speaking movies had to be subtitled — dubbing was not used as much at the time — it was not very often that you got good quality films at the local movie theaters. Which is part of the reason why a film as old as me was only then showing.
Yoyita [that’s how I always called her] was not at all concerned about my ability to read subtitles —those who have read my earlier post on this blog will gather that at the age of six I was reading up a storm — but inquired, after the movie, whether the plot had made any sense. She was not surprised at all that, for me, it had. A real feast to the eyes, the ballet scene in The Red Shoes [you can also see here the part two] was mesmerizing to us both.
I am not gonna pretend to be a genius and will concede to anybody that at that early age there were some things that clearly made no sense for me. And it’s not like, for everybody, the intricacies of human relationships are easy to decode. Those complexities in human behavior are precisely the reason why I concluded that some of the answers in The Red Shoes may have also eluded my sister’s understanding.
While she was a romantic [two of her favourite songs where Doce Cascabeles and Dos Cruces] there is, if you have seen the movie, things that are not fully made clear on why they happen.
Fast-forward about two-and-half or three more years to another movie outing with my sister.
At the time she was a secretary at the newspaper where I would later start my professional adventure and in celebration of her job [and probably, if I remember well, as part of her conversation with my mother about her plans to marry a young poet, public accountant and teacher] she had treated the three of us to see Beneath The 12 Mile Reef.
Released about three years before, the film had been selected as the gala opening for the Cine Regis because it was shot in CinemaScope and the movie theater was the one with the new wide screen where all the beauty of the movie could be appreciated.
|One of my greatest goofs|
While I was [aged eight or nine] still too young to fully be caught up in what one may call a romantic interest, in “Costa Brava” [one of the three titles that the movie was released under in Spanish] red-haired, 5'1" Terry Moore was too much of a little firecracker of a woman not to make me wonder what sexual attraction can be.
The second is one of my greatest goofs of all time, which earned me a pat on the head from my sister — plus one of her most hearty chuckles — and hollers from the entire audience.
About 35 minutes into the movie you’ll see this scene where Gilbert Roland, who plays Robert Wagner’s dad in the film, beats Peter Graves in a fistfight. At a point in the squabble, Roland’s marine captain’s cover falls off, his sidekick picks it up and hangs the hat on a palm tree.
Once the fight’s over, Roland, Wagner and their companion leave the place.
“Hey you, guys, you forgot the hat!” I hollered to the three of them, in Spanish, so entranced was I by the whole thing [no, the movie is not as good as The Red Shoes, but’s good enough to follow.]
The howls of laughter from the entire audience were enough to make me feel like wishing the earth could swallow me.
There was of course a point to the forgetfulness. Roland’s character dies later and sure enough his son, Wagner, returns to the secluded place where the hat had been left.
No amount of smugness was enough for me not to stare angrily at the old man who pointed at me when leaving the theater to say to his wife, “See, that’s the kid who sensed there was something going on with the hat!”
Over the years, Yoyita and I kept close.
I rejoiced on the birth of each one of her four children, lamented the death of my oldest niece [of which I only knew weeks after it happened, because by then I had already started — unknowingly, I must say — my long journey to expatriation], shared heartbreaks and worries and concerns over many things, separation with children being one of them, flew back to be with her after her husband’s sudden death of cardiac arrest, and talked whenever possible, but not as often as either one of us wished and needed.
|Meeting Miguel Ángel Asturias, around the time he became a Nobel winner|
I was there for the long of her life. I wasn’t for the short part.
I say this not so much with regret but with sorrow.
At her death, the last day of October, 2012, it had been years since we had last talked.
This is an overdue note of condolences to her children and grandchildren, yes.
But my remembrance of her goes without mourning.
Someone may think you oughta mourn.
Me, I will always speak of Yoyita in celebration.