By Luis Negron
So what his friend told him seemed totally preposterous and he tried to comfort him, telling him not to worry, that that night they were going to the bar and that surely homophobia would be intact there. Succeeding in calming down his friend a little so that he could deal with this minor crisis, José A. went to his bathroom and vomited.
They were on their way to the bar in Pachi’s Land Rover with the Gay Ibiza VIP Club Music Collection on the stereo concealing their anxiety that the bar too might be affected. But almost at the entrance to the formerly exclusive (men pay ten, women thirty, get my drift?) and super “in” bar, they saw the first sign that the world, their world, was going straight to hell. Six lesbian couples, with their cell phones on their belts, were entering. Alarmed and almost complaining, they asked the bouncer in disgust, “Is this women’s night?” The bouncer said no.
They entered as if thinking twice before doing so, but without slowing down and with their noses turned up, they went over to a corner to see whom they should ignore. There weren’t as many people as usual, but the worst part was that almost all of them were dressed casual, not to say like ragpickers.
At that moment the music stopped and the DJ announced that everyone should go out on the street, as the city had declared the first Thursday of each month Gay Nights in Santurce. Everyone went out on the avenue. José A. and Pachi went outside with a disgusted look on their faces and with their hands up high so as not to touch so many sweaty and dirty persons.
A section of Ponce de Leon was blocked off. An enormous commotion was growing, people talking, laughing, and dancing. Some Dominican women had even improvised a stand to sell fried food. José A. and Pachi went to a corner and there they encountered some activists, furious because no one had given them any credit for putting an end to homophobia. “They should make an announcement,” they said, “to thank us.”
At that moment, amid the dancing crowd, Pachi saw the sweet love of his youth, Papote, the fireman’s son. He came toward Pachi with the same beautiful smile that led him to love him when they were in high school.
Papote, with gray hairs and the extra weight that the straight life causes, grabbed him by the hands and said to him: “Babe, come with me. I came out of the closet and came here to find you.”
He gave the keys to his SUV to José A. so as not to leave him stranded, and before he knew it he was dancing a bachata right on Ponce de Leon with the man of his life. With one eye he saw the disgust on the face of his friend José A., but with the other he saw Papote’s full lips. Even with his ghetto mustache and all, he gave him a kiss, and said, surrendering to come what may:
“Papito, I’ll go with you to the ends of the earth, but first take me to a restaurant for a plate of rice and beans because I’ve been hungry for the last twenty years.”
And they left.
José A. cried out of pure rage, not over Pachi, since deep down he knew his shortcomings, but because the clothes he wore had cost him a lot and weren’t for going slumming like that. He turned up his nose, stopped behind the van to vomit from the smell of fried food, and got in the van.
At that moment he promised himself that the next day he would sell everything and go to Miami. Since he, José Alfonso Lapis, of the Ponce Lapis family, didn’t mix in with riffraff, and never would he live without decorum. Never!