Gaston Luis Zulaica del Sueldo walks toward me after disembarking from the plane. Although I have never met him, I know exactly who he is. Tallish, thin body; long, handsome, light tan face; smiling, perfect teeth; arms open. A teenage Latin Lover, bouncing on the balls of his feet, rushing to me. Those arms wrap around and squeeze me tight. My new son has arrived from Argentina.
Every night while I fix dinner, he sits at the brown Kanabe piano my parents gave me thirty years ago and plays and plays: Beethoven, the theme from Twilight, Chopin…I look up from chopping onions and see the short, dark ringlets on the back of his neck and watch his gliding, long-fingered hands. He plays until salad making time arrives. He tells me he makes salads for his grandmother back home. Now he makes them for us: layers of emerald lettuce, red peppers, black olives, orange carrots, green onions, a kaleidosope of appetizing color.
Gaston Luis Zulaica del Sueldo. It curls around my tongue when I introduce him. Images of tango dancers, gauchos–he is a champion rider, malbec wine–at seventeen he brought me some in his luggage, snow capped mountains where he skis, and cattle grazing on the endless grass his family owns. We speak Spanlish at home, we laugh, we cook. On my birthday he insists on paying for everyone. When I tell him I did not expect that, he looks at me as if to say, “What kind of man do you think I am?”
Gaston Luis Zulaica del Sueldo.
Note: One of the assignments in the prose poetry class was to write about a name, real or imagined. This one is real. Gaston lived with me a couple of years ago and I still keep in touch with him and his family.