Rudy was about 16 or 17 years old, living in Honduras, (long before he met California). He was a senior in high school, a star basketball player, and an overall good guy. A nice guy. Friendly. Sometimes observant, sometimes talkative.
There he was one evening, walking across the only bridge in town, when he sees her walking in the opposite direction. Her green eyes look at him, casually. Her long dark hair rustles in the breeze.
The most beautiful girl in the world.
She’s Honduran with mix of her dad’s Australian.
Rudy gazes at her, shyly, unable to speak.
He doesn’t see her for a few days. And then he does. Again. Crossing the bridge.
“Hola,” he says.
“Hi,” she responds.
And off they go, heading in the opposite direction, passing without another word.
He asks friends about her. Asking them about the beautiful girl who speaks English.
“Oh, her? She’s been around. Where have you been?” they say, playfully shoving him.
One night, not too long later, he goes to a party and sees her there. He feels his heart pound, excitedly. Feeling confident, Rudy introduces himself and asks her to dance.
She told him she used to have a boyfriend with the same last name. “Yo tenía un novio con el mismo apellido.”
Bravely, innocently, and boyishly he responds, “¿Quieres otra novio llamado Romero?”
She laughs. As if he’s a joke.
Rudy wants to sink into the earth. He feels stupid. Why did he ask if she wanted another boyfriend with the same last name?
So, he turns, walks away, drags his feet. Feet that seem to take ten years to move to the other side of the room. His head hangs down. He starts to leave with friends. The party is over, for him at least. But, she runs after him, says she can see he’s feeling down and that she is sorry, she didn’t mean any harm. Didn’t mean to be rude.
Suddenly the air filled with music.
Rudy asks, “¿Quieres bailar?”
She grabs his hand and pulls him with her, back to where the party is.