Federico (English version)
Nothing confronts me more with the act of dying than traveling by plane. I don’t fear death itself, but it being caused by pilot error. A person who not only flies an aircraft but also my life. I could complain to all Air Forces that don’t allow the crew to get involved in the selection of the personnel that will take us to our destination, but it would be in vain because they apparently do it for us; what if just before taking off, the pilot finds out that his wife cheated on him with his best friend or is a manic-depressive, and I have to go to London with him?
The variables are endless and so is my good luck, because so far none of them has contemplated suicide, at least not with me. Those pilots who fly with me must be really eager to surf the turbulence, since my last trip was a mixture of “bachata of pits”, edema of glottis and post-partum. He didn’t turn a hair surfing the fierce winds of the damn current El Niño, because he didn’t even warn us that we were at risk of death. Of course this is a personal conclusion, since no members of the crew bothered a second to take off their sleep masks. Those in row C were snoring in B minor, the flight attendants were telling each other about the last roll in the hay with the newly divorced pilot, and the damn Asians were reading the newspaper as if they were sitting on a lounger in Playa del Carmen. Me? As if I was attached to the electric chair, fading between watery green and apple green, reciting mantras of all religions, asking the gods of the cold South winds to end this hell because I can’t die today; I still have to pay off my credit card which I maxed out for my Christmas shopping and at some point in the future I’ll have to find a boyfriend.
I think my family would never forgive me if I die single, and then the damn karma is going to bring me right back to the crime scene so that I can meet someone and repeat this whole nightmare once again.
But my guardian angels that know exactly everything about my reincarnations and current accounts, put me face to face with a guy from Brazil just before pre-boarding. Federico. A 32-year-old ash blond who was more to be married on Earth than to be met in Heaven… Or maybe both.
I was able to verbalize my inner thoughts and I dared to ask him how long our flight would be; I never intended him to get close to me forever, I was just looking for someone nice and handsome to die with. But Federico had the look of being more single than me and seemed to be a good candidate for me to hold his hand when the plane began to shake like a washing machine.
He didn’t stop talking; I would have never forgiven him if he had been in my city, but what other choice did I actually have, stranded in an airport in Mexico going to São Paulo? He talked for about two hours in a row and I let him speak because this thing of being close to death makes me compassionate. He wanted my phone number, I just wanted him to hug me during turbulence.
Between his anxiety and mine, we reached an agreement: the first weekend that we returned to the United States -because he lives in Los Angeles-, he would come to visit me. I can’t argue with my “bodyguard of wild winds”, the OK was given and my word, too.
We sat apart, it’s clear that fate knows more about me than about my fears of air pockets, but Cecilia, who needs to stretch her 1.2-meter-long legs to be comfortable, resorted to the old trick of the emergency exit. Yes, sure, just a girl like me would leave the plane first in case it fell… Although nobody knew, I settled there. And, as soon as the plane was ready to take off, I started looking for my new friend who just happened to have immersed himself in deep sadness without my company.
I put him on my side, pressed up against him; I told him about my most recent fears, and we hugged. Taken by the hand of a complete stranger. Spooning with Brazil and the damn sudden steep drops by the pilot, who must have been having dinner. The steward who stared at us because he didn’t understand anything since the last time he had seen us; Federico was texting and I was eating some M&Ms in the other wing of the airport. He told me that before the plane dropped, he would like to know if he kissed well or not, since we also talked about my list of bad kissers. There wasn’t even one topic left to analyze, he even told me that he was living with his ex-wife who got pregnant by another man and that the son of a third guy lives with them. Too much information for just a single flight. Sometimes it’s better to die than to hear the truth.
I brought up sensitive issues and bombarded him with technical questions, such as: Are you divorced from her or do you have to support that child who is not yours? Do you sleep in separate rooms? Who chose the baby’s name? My perplexity was such that I thought I was single for a good reason, because maybe I have neither the tolerance nor the patience that this human being has in much stronger situations than falling off a plane.
And I thought that my life was screwed because I didn’t know anything about the life of pilots. We reached our final destination, the plane never fell, and we parted as two lifelong friends. He came to San Francisco and left, I kept my promise, I found out that the baby is three months old, I asked him who gets up to take care of the baby when he cries at 3 in the morning. I don’t know what will happen next time, but I hope life doesn’t challenge me again by sending a man with a son that is not his… Because traveling is not my thing, but neither is raising children.
Time has come to organize a wedding: mine. After so many years of listening to my family complain about my marital status, I found my soul mate: me! Isn’t that amazing? There are people who spend a lifetime trying to find themselves and yet never meet; it took me 35 years, not bad for a girl who has traveled a lot and to whom geography has always opposed, right?
We met a long time ago, but we found each other as adults; I won’t go into detail, but she's the one. And, as could not have been otherwise, the deal is always closed with a ring, so I put on my Italian shawl, the highest heeled shoes I could find in the closet, and I asked Dolce & Gabbana to go with me, in other words, three quarters of perfume on my shoulders.
Of course, the chosen store was Tiffany & Co. I had so many candidates who went dutch that I feeling that this goes for all of them, too. Education and feelings, guys, something you couldn’t achieve. I went into the store on Post street and the young shop assistant asked me very kindly what I was looking for. Suddenly, my eyes sparkled with happiness and the innocence of a woman who embarks on a new path, and I told her: an engagement ring.
—Oh, very well! Congratulations! Do you know what you are looking for or has your fiancé reserved it?
—Ah, sorry! Fiancée…
—No problem, after all we’re in San Francisco… guessing people’s inclinations must be a pretty big challenge for a store like this. The girl, in addition to being embarrassed and inexperienced, didn’t know the ring was just for me and that the wedding vows would come from just one hand: the right one.
—Look, I’ll tell you this; I’m marrying myself and I’ve decided to celebrate it with a diamond ring, so let’s go little by little because everything comes out of a single pocket: OK?
I think that in the history of Tiffany & Co. you’ve heard that a girl about my age wants to mortgage her life for a ring, but isn’t it the most important act of our whole existence: the celebration of impeccable coexistence? Aha! Well, let’s celebrate it, then!
—Wow, this has never happened to me since I started working here, but I think it’s a bright idea!
—No darling, bright is the stone that is going to pay off our love.
—Great! I totally agree with you. What kind of gold are you looking for?
—White, of course, as my soul.
When she takes out the tray of platinum bands with my retirement pension on top, I automatically feel a connection to the ring on the left side of all possible gifts.
—This one! -I shouted, pointing at my future. -How much is it?
It was to be expected, I’m not a girl to be taken lightly, it is all or nothing with me. —Cute; maybe another one a little cheaper?
—We have rings ranging from $1,500 to $ 50,000… it is your decision, basically.
—Look, it’s very clear that I’m worth the $50,000 one, but I must save a little for the party and the honeymoon. I don’t want a ring to leave me somewhere in Kathmandu absolutely penniless, you know?
—Great, let me show you the $6,000 ones; tell me if you like any of them; the diamonds are smaller, so the price is lower.
I don’t know the short young lady, but I already love her… from 12 to 6… In a minute, she reduced the price by half, that’s what I call negotiation.
—I like this one; how much is it?
—You have chosen the most expensive one from this wide selection, it costs $ 6,450.
—Sorry, but I have very good taste, as you may have already noticed.
—Yes, actually marrying yourself says it all! (laughter)
Besides being a lovely saleswoman, she is a perceptive and a clever negotiator, three talents which are about to ruin my finances.
—If you do not mind, could I ask you a personal question?
This girl must be between 21 and 24 years old, how personal could a question be when she’s been on this planet for such a short time?
—Of course dear, “personal” is all I’ve got.
—If you put an engagement ring on your finger, aren’t you afraid that men think you’re married and never come close to you again?
I sighed deeply and tried to be cautious about her innocence; I put my hand on her shoulder and said, ―Honey, it’s very likely that by having one I get luckier than if I didn’t. You don’t need to understand this perversity, but the world outside Tiffany can be very cruel, which is why I recommend you keep selling rings and never leave this room.
The girl didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but the truth is that this future wife gave her a free lesson in exchange for $6,500. I may have not known how to negotiate with my past, but my present has a signet ring on my finger which says that nobody or nothing could ever make me happier than myself. Now, please, don’t expect the party to be this year because, between my house in front of the sea and my wedding, I am waxing my legs in the bathroom to cut costs and lock myself up until next winter.
Llegó el momento de organizar una boda: la mía. Después de tantos años de escuchar a mi familia quejarse de mi estado civil, encontré a mi alma gemela: yo. ¿No es increíble? Hay gente que se busca toda una vida y nunca se encuentra, a mí me llevó 35 años, no está nada mal para una chica que ha viajado mucho y la geografía le ha jugado en contra; ¿no?
Nos conocimos hace mucho tiempo atrás pero nos encontramos de grande, no voy a entrar en detalles, but she’s the one.
Y como no podía ser de otra manera, el trato siempre se cierra con un anillo, así que me puse mi chalina italiana, los zapatos más altos del placar y le pedí a Dolce & Gabbana que me acompañaran o sea tres cuartos de perfume al hombro.
Por supuesto que la tienda elegida fue Tiffany & Co. Tuve tantos candidatos que dividieron la cuenta por dos, que siento que esta va por todos ellos también. Educación y sentimientos muchachos, algo que ustedes no pudieron lograr. Entré al local de calle Post y la señorita que me atendió me preguntó muy amablemente que estaba buscando. La miré con brillo en los ojos y el candor de una mujer que emprende un nuevo camino y le dije: un anillo de compromiso.
—¡Ah muy bien, felicitaciones; ¿sabés lo que estás buscando o tu compañero lo ha dejado reservado?
—¡Ah perdón, compañera!
—No hay problema, después de todo estamos en San Francisco, adivinar las inclinaciones de la gente debe ser un desafío bastante grande para una tienda como esta. La chica además de avergonzada e inexperimentada, no sabía que ese anillo era simplemente para mí y que el contrato de los votos matrimoniales saldrían de una sola mano: la derecha.
—Mirá, te cuento que me caso conmigo misma y decidí festejarlo con un anillo de diamantes, así que vamos de a poco porque sale todo de un solo bolsillo: ¿ok?
Creo que en la historia de Tiffany & Co. han escuchado que una chica de mi edad quiera hipotecar su vida por un anillo, pero acaso no es este el acto más importante de nuestra existencia: ¿la celebración de una convivencia impecable? ¡Pues, alá; a festejarlo! —¡Wow, nunca me pasó esto trabajando acá pero me parece una idea brillante!
—No cariño, lo brillante va a ser esa piedra que va a saldar nuestro amor. —¡Buenísimo! Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con vos. ¿Qué tipo de oro estabas buscando?
—Blanco por supuesto, como mi alma.
Cuando me saca la bandeja de bandas platinadas con mi jubilación en la punta, automáticamente siento una conexión con el anillo en el lado izquierdo del agasajo. —¡Este!, ―le grito apuntando mi futuro, ―¿Qué precio tiene?
Era de esperarse, no soy una chica para tomarse a la ligera, conmigo es todo o nada. —Lindo; ¿otro un poquito más económico?
—Tenemos desde $1500 a $50000 es tu decisión básicamente.
—Mirá, está clarísimo que yo valgo uno de $50000, pero tengo que guardarme un poco para la fiesta y la Luna de Miel. No quiero que un anillo me deje tirada en Katmandú sin un duro, ¿sabes?
—Genial, dejáme que te muestre los de $6000, decíme si te parece que alguno de estos te gustan, los diamantes son más chiquitos, por eso el precio disminuye.
No la conozco a la petisa pero ya la quiero, de 12 a 6. En un minuto me lo bajó a la mitad, eso es negociar.
—Este me gustó, ¿qué precio tiene?
—Te elegiste el más caro de la selección, sale $6450.
—Perdonáme, es que sufro de buen gusto, ya te habrás dado cuenta.
—¡Sí, con casarte con vos misma lo dice todo! (risas)
Además de ser una amorosa la vendedora, es lúcida y comerciante, tres talentos que están por arruinar mi economía.
—Si no te molesta; ¿te puedo hacer una pregunta personal?
Esta chica oscilará entre 21 y 24 años, cuán personal puede llegar a ser una pregunta cuando no hace muchos años que está en este planeta.
—Por supuesto querida, personal es lo único que tengo.
—¿Si te pones un anillo de compromiso en el dedo, no tenés miedo de que los hombres piensen que estás casada y nunca más se te acerquen?
Suspiré profundo y traté de ser cautelosa con su inocencia, apoyé mi mano sobre su hombro y le dije: ―Cariño, es muy probable que al tener uno tenga más suerte que al no tenerlo. No tenés por qué entender esta perversidad, pero el mundo afuera de Tiffany puede ser uno muy cruel, por eso te recomiendo que sigas vendiendo anillos y nunca salgas de esta sala.
La chica no sabía si reír o llorar, pero lo cierto es que esta futura esposa le dio una lección gratuita a cambio de $6500. No habré sabido negociar con mi pasado, pero mi presente tiene un sello en el dedo que dice que nadie ni nada podrá hacerme más feliz que yo misma. Eso sí, no esperen que la fiesta sea este año porque entre mi casa frente al mar y mi casamiento estoy depilándome en el baño para recortar gastos y encerrarme hasta el próximo invierno.