How I Became the New Boyfriend

Dating Santiago has been such a beautiful mixture of joy, butterflies, excitement and honesty…but as we all know, relationships are roller coaster rides and what goes up must come down–and last night was a ride to remember.

Nando: Santiago you left me here alone with your Godchild and his mother while you went out to buy birdfood? She made me eat tamales and some chocolate soupy thing–do you know how many carbs I just ate because of you?

Santiago: (Turning on his computer) Nando, will you pass me the blank CDs from under the shelf?

Nando: I just ate 5,000 calories and you want me to pass you blank CDs? Do you even want me here tonight?

Santiago took a deep sigh, looked deep into my eyes and said, “What’s the best way to burn a photo CD?”

Earlier in the evening, Santiago and I met up at the train station–he was on his way home from work and I met him there to come over and spend time together. As we got to his place and he opened the door–something shifted. He became uneasy. He immediately got on the phone and began to call pet stores asking for their closing time and if they sold a certain type of bird seed. He seemed annoyed and I stayed out of his way. It seems that he’s been asking his roommate’s wife to buy the seeds for the last week since the birds in the home belong to her child. Santiago bought the birds for the 3-year-old boy as a gift, since he’s also the baby’s Godfather.  While Santiago was on the phone, the 3-year-old came up to me and began to yank my hand wanting me to follow him. I followed the baby into a room with a large bookshelf used for storing toys and on the top shelf–way beyond his reach–where four little Sesame Street books. I selected one and read all about Cookie Monster and his cookie-eating hobby.

Santiago, still on the phone,  walked past us and left the apartment. Before I could get up and follow him, the baby’s mother came in and asked if I wanted to eat. I explained I had just eaten and was rather full. By the look on her face she became disappointed, nodded her head and just walked away. I felt bad. As I continued to read to the baby, I found it unusual that at the age of three, he wasn’t repeating anything I’d ask him to.

Nando: Coooookie

Baby Boy: Nemo

Nando: Cooooookeeeeey

Baby Boy: Neeeeemoooo

After experiencing this child’s A.D.D., I put the book away and figured that the five minute of “torture” should end. Then the woman came in again looked at her child then looked at me.

Woman: Nando, dinner is ready and your food is getting cold–come, let’s eat. I made tamales for you.

Nando: (confused) Uhm, okay…I’ll be right there, let me just go wash my hands.

While in the bathroom, scrubbing my hands, I tried to understand what was going on. Where is Santiago? Why does the baby only repeat character that Walt Disney churns out? And why is this woman making me eat after I specifically told her I wasn’t hungry? I went to the dinning room and before me was a meal that would have shamed King Henry VIII and his cooks. It was a beautiful array of colors, meats, shapes, smells…and it was Mexican and all for me.

Woman: I know you like spicy, so I made this sauce specially for you–I hope you like it. It’s for your chalupas.

Being Mexican, food is our weapon of choice in any matter. And I realized by the way she was hanging on my every bite, she wanted to know me, understand me, relate to me and she used food as the connector. As we ate dinner–my second dinner–she told me the intricate and horrifying story of how at seven month pregnant with the little boy, she crossed the Mexican border finally making it through the Arizona desert only to have the Border Patrol chase her down with a pack of dogs. She couldn’t outrun them and she was caught and thrown in jail with no food or water for days. As she continued to talk–I kept reaching for more tamales.

And in the middle of her story–her third attempt at crossing over–the door opened and there was Santiago holding a huge bad of bird food. He crossed over and gently opened their cage and lovingly scoop the seeds in their bins and spoke to them as he hung place the food inside. The birds bounced over to him and climbed on his palm. He brought them fresh water, then said he was going to take a quick shower and join us for dinner.

After dinner, when we were finally alone, I let him have it.

Nando: Santiago you left me here alone with your Godchild and his mother while you went out to buy birdfood? She made me eat tamales and some chocolate soupy thing–do you know how many carbs I just ate because of you?

Santiago: (Turning on his computer) Nando, will you pass me the blank CDs from under the shelf?

Nando: I just ate 5,000 calories and you want me to pass you blank CDs? Do you even want me here tonight?

Santiago took a deep sigh, looked deep into my eyes and said, “What’s the best way to burn a photo CD?”

I got up to go to the bathroom but he thought I was making my move to leave when he grabbed my arm and sat me down in front of him.

Santiago: Nando, those little birds are dependent of us–they can’t make their own food. I don’t want them to starve. I’ve asked her several times to get the seeds but as you see, she didn’t. I couldn’t go to bed knowing they were hungry. And my Godchild, he doesn’t speak Spanish, he doesn’t speak English. When I saw you reading to him, that made me so happy Nando and I didn’t want to take that away from him. I hear Cris’ little boys when they call you and speak to you. Dominik is the same age as my Godchild and he calls you to tell you stories about his day. All mine says is Nemo and Ice Age. I read to him and encourage his education–but if his own parents don’t find the importance in it and don’t reinforce it–how is he going to understand? And another reason I left without you was I know you were off filming your TV segment for Good Day New York today and then came home to work on your book–your work is very taxing–I wanted you to rest. The birds are my responsibility, not yours. And finally, the reason I’m burning this CD is because a friend of mine has been asking for photos I took of her wedding. And for the last three months I’ve ignored her but she’s coming by work tomorrow to pick them up. So Nando, this is where my head is at tonight and I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable but you’re the reason I rushed to complete these tasks so I could spend the rest of the evening with you. But don’t be mad at me, I did it for you.

I didn’t have to look into his eyes to see the sincerity in his word, I could actually feel it. He cleared up my confusion and I no longer blamed him for my calorie intake. I mean, in all honesty, maybe I could still blame him for the first two tamales, but the last three were all my doing. Later that night, while in bed–he turned to me,”It’s been a month that I’ve been seeing you and my feeling are growing stronger each day. I don’t want to see anyone else but you–and I want to know that you’re mine and only mine, Nando. I want us to be serious about this thing that we’re doing. Will you be my boyfriend?

And just like that, I became the new boyfriend. And I accepted with a kiss and as we were about to “get down and dirty” the 3-year-old came knocking at the door. Really? I couldn’t sleep last night; I was too excited with thoughts of  my new title. Santiago may only be 25 years-old but when he communicates and tells me how he sees life and what he wants from it–he’s got “old soul” written all over him. And as far as the bumpy roller coaster ride we’re both in for–thank God for seat belts, because we’re not getting off anytime soon.

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