The four of us, Linda, the two Pauls, and I eat every night at the Italian restaurant even though we’re in Mexico. It’s the one restaurant in this all-inclusive resort that does not allow anyone under the age of twelve. Paul K. and Linda, the couple that we’re traveling with, are childless. They have little desire to watch children eat. This particular evening, I’m sitting across from Paul K. and I’m maturely eating a gross amount of food. As I shovel in the last bite of my risotto into my mouth, and anticipate a totally unnecessary dessert, I watch the waiter cleaning away the dishes from the booth that I’m facing. I notice that he’s failed to remove a small red object from on the seat of the booth. I study this small red glob. I consider of getting up and removing it myself; but I’m lazily glued to my seat.
The waiter comes and removes our plates. The four of us order decaf cappuccinos. I’m still not ready to make my way to the dessert bar, but my eyes linger, with mild concern, every once-in-awhile at this bright red object on the bench. Paul K. begins to tell us of his good deed of the day. Earlier, on the beach, he removed a broken cinder block from the surf, saving some poor soul a stubbed toe. My eyes, again return to the red object. I’ve pretty much decided that it’s one half of a maraschino cherry. I resolve to do my good deed of the day; but before I can get my lazy ass off my chair, the hostess suddenly appears, leading two women to the accursed booth. They are large American women. And wouldn’t you know, the larger of the two is dressed in a white terrycloth strapless pantsuit. She wiggles her way into the booth before I have a chance get up or utter a word.
I sigh in resignation. And I, not one to be shy regarding my own social shortcomings or lack of do-gooderness, tell my three tablemates about the demise of the maraschino cherry. They all glance at this woman who is ignorantly eating her bread and sipping her water, completely unawares. As we all wait, with patient morbid curiosity, for her to get up and make her way to the salad bar, I study this woman. As I said, she is large and the pantsuit is tight and it’s strapless and the restaurant is cold and there is nothing between her breasts and the thin white terrycloth. I ask my friend, Paul, if he might shift a little to his left, thus blocking my direct view of her anatomy. She eats her bread very slowly. We wait, while sipping our coffee.
“Here we go,” I announce as I see her shift to get up. We all watch surreptitiously. At first there is nothing to be seen but the vast whiteness of her derrière. Then we all see it, down low, almost to her thigh -- a perfectly red splash of color on all that white.
“There it is!” declares Linda. We all nod solemnly. “She won’t wear that a second time.”
“Well,” I say, refusing to totally accept my guilt, “she never should’ve worn it the first time!”