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Isn’t It Romantic?

May 31, 2018

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    Cuba, Between History and Legend

    Isnt It Romantic?

    The door of the beauty parlor swung open and the client

    flew in, a big, red bow falling over her left shoulder, her

    straw hat over the right. Titico, honey! They found

    Lolitas tomb! She then immediately and instinctively

    rearranged her bow and hat.

    At that very instant, Titico, formally known as Robertico

    de la Cerda del Corral, dropped his scissors, put hispinkish palms flat up against his cheeks, and let out a

    high-pitched little scream like no other ever heard at

    Titicos Salon of Beauty for High Class Ladies, Estd

    1863, namely Camageys pre-eminent beauty parlor

    and rumor mill.

    As soon as he screamed, Titico stopped working on his

    other client, a snooty-looking lady from Havana. Titico

    cried out, No! I dont believe it! When? Where? How?!

    Are they sure shes dead? I mean, this is Camagey, and

    sometimes its hard to tell

    Im telling you, Titico, they found it! Or, more

    accurately, the peanut-vendor found it.

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    The peanut-vendor found a lost tomb? Girl, you finally

    lost your marbles! And no less than Lolitas tomb. Of all

    the dead people in Camagey the peanut-vendor was

    able to go and find the one tomb that the whole town has

    been looking for. No way!

    Titico, Im telling you, the peanut-vendor went today to

    have a smoke, like he does every morning after hes done

    with all that singing that Hes going, hes going, thepeanut-vendor is going!. Well, this morning he finally

    went. To the cemetery. And there, among all those dead

    people, as big as life, was a sign!

    A sign from God! gasped Titico.

    Well, not exactly, indicated the messenger. More likely

    from some guy or other that Lolita turned down during

    her long career before she got small pox sniffed the

    messenger.

    E pluribus unum Among many, one, solemnly

    declared Titico, who pretended to be a Latin-speaking

    cosmetician and who never missed High Mass at Our

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    Lady of Mercy, where all the ladies of high society

    worshipped and most of his clients came from. It did not

    matter to the hairdresser that his erudite E pluribus unum

    did not appear anywhere in the Mass.

    At this point the client whose mane Titico was curling

    lifted her aristocratic head and commented, A dead

    woman, a sign, E pluribus unum, not to mention the

    peanut-vendor and the measles Titico, you have notintroduced me to this very interesting young lady so

    overflowing with news

    My apologies, Countess! the hairdresser groveled

    before the lady occupying the barbers chair like Queen

    Isabella on the throne. Countess, permit me to introduce

    to you Seorita Agustina Perpetua Angustias Dolores de

    Cangas de Lamar y Torren de Arteaga y Ponce del

    Carrasco y Lazo de la Vega del Tejar y del Pozo,

    managing to get it all out just before he finally ran out of

    breath.

    But they all call me Bon-Bn at the Casino Espaol!

    cheerfully piped in the beautiful Camageyan lady,

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    sending the other lady a bright and grinning smile, full of

    teeth.

    (Well, thats a relief muttered the countess to

    herself.)

    Andyou would be ? Bon-Bn then added, her eyelids

    already beginning to droop with hauteur.

    Noticing this, Titico jumped in and, in an experienced

    manner, and taking an even deeper breath, he

    announced that the lady on the barbers throne was a

    new client, a most distinguished lady from Havana, who

    has recently married a Camageyan count. Titico had the

    truly district honor to introduce to Bon-Bn Seora

    Caridad de las Mercedes del Carmen del Boniato y

    Pealver de Crdenas del Calzado y Agravida de Los

    Lazos, Countess of (and here Titico did have to take a

    second breath) de las Cabezas del Regino y Orbachea de

    Izarregui y Sarriegui, managing to get all this out just

    before he finally collapsed.

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    But at the Club, they all call me Kik, interjected the

    gorgeous Habanera, the newly revealed Countess Kik.

    (God be praised whispered , Bon-Bn looking off to

    the side.)

    Then turning to the subject at hand, Titico turned to Bon-

    Bn and asked her with great insistence, But tell me,

    darling, about Lolita, how everdid the peanut-vendor findher?

    Its like this, the peanut-vendor knew of this little plot of

    land at the cemetery that he had believed for years to be

    unused. Well, for the last twenty years or so he has gone

    there just to lie down and have a smoke every morning

    after his rounds. This morning, though, he goes to the

    same little plot andwham! He sees this sign, painted

    white like a corpse, with black letters of death all over it,

    and Lolitas name and surname, and a poem written on

    the sign! concluded Bon-Bn.

    A poem for the dead! cried out the countess Kik.

    Now, this is the Camagey I came here to experience!

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    And what did this poem say, Seorita Bon-Bn ? Im a

    great lover of literature, you know! Especially when they

    write it to dead people

    Upon hearing Kikis innocent question, Bon-Bn lit up like

    a Christmas tree. This was the moment she had been

    waiting for since she burst into Titicos temple of beauty.

    Quite slowly, Bon-Bn moved to the center of the beauty

    parlor; once there, she stood perfectly still; then shelinked her hands below her ample bosom; and finally

    raised her head as if she were addressing the Royal Box

    at the Teatro Principal. She then began reciting with little

    talent but great pomposity the poem she had made sure

    she committed to memory before leaving the peanut-

    vendor back at the cemetery and taking off for Titicos

    beauty parlor and rumor mill.

    Bon-Bn commenced, affecting a phony Spanish accent

    and making a lot of sounds that no one who spoke Cuban

    Spanish ever made.

    Here lies Dolores Rondn,

    Her life now come to an end.

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    Draw nigh, oh man, and ponder(peering at

    her audience)

    The earthly pursuits, to wit:

    Pride and Vanity, (she lifted one index

    finger; then, the other) Wealth and Power. (ditto

    for the movements)

    At this Titico and Kik looked at each other, knowingly,

    and nodded their heads smugly, in agreement. Bon-Bnresumed her oratory:

    To naught each one shall come.

    And immortalized will only be

    The evil that is rejected

    And the good that in fact is done!

    Bon-Bn immediately closed her recitation with a slight

    step back and a curtsy. She adopted a downcast and

    tragic look, now pondering the verities she had just

    prophesied and then steadied herself by resting one of

    her well-manicured hands on a cabinet full of curlers.

    Immediately, encores and kudos from her audience of

    two. Titico even fell to his knees before our Camageyan

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    Melponene, offering her a bouquet of roses in the form of

    a feather duster from the shop.

    How wonderful! How marvelous! cried out the

    countess Kik. The folly of love! The tragedy of passion!

    A love so strong that it overcomes death and separationnot to mention small pox! My breast could beat with such

    a love! But just dont tell my husband he would only

    take advantage

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    The Tomb of Dolores Rondn,Camagey/

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    Me, too! Me, too! chirped in Bon-Bn. I know I could

    be loved by a man just as passionate! But, first, being

    single, of course, I need to meet one

    Ladies! Ladies! Of course, we can all feel that love and

    inspire such passionwere Cubans! added

    nationalistically Titico. And then he whispered in an

    enigmatic tone, On this island, the Tropics weave their

    magic spell he trailed off, mysteriously, never quiteexplaining exactly how the Tropics weave that spell or

    what they could do for Cubans and their love life.

    Suddenly, out of the blue, but returning them all to

    reality, this observation from Kik, It must have been a

    verybig sign, dont you think? I mean, for Gods sake, all

    those words! deduced the lover of fine writing.

    Well, Im sure she deserved every last one of them, put

    in Titico, diplomatically. The women agreedand then

    pursed their lips.

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    Then the Habanera, the foreigner, blasphemed, But

    what does it matter, anyway? Who was this Dolores

    Rondn?

    Titico and Bon-Bn were stunned, stupefied. Oh, my

    dear! In her day Lolita Rondn was one of the most

    beautiful people in Camaguey! remarked Bon-Bn, still

    in awe.

    And are there many of those? asked dryly the countess

    from Havana.

    One or two, came back the opening salvo from Bon-

    Bn, her eyes narrowing.

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