Lupe and Ruth – Installment Three
Lupe hung up the phone and looked around the bedroom. She went to the trash can and retrieved the smashed-up box of chocolates and placed them on the dresser. Reaching for one of the truffles, she heard the squeaky little voices again.
“Don’t do it Lupita, mijita, cutie pie!”
She stopped. Did she really just take stuff out of the garbage and intend to eat it? She took the truffles into the kitchen, threw them in the sink, turned on the garbage disposal, and watched them whirl down the drain, inhaling the last of the chocolate aroma.
“Wow.” She sighed.
The mice cheered. “¡Qué viva la Lupe!”
Her creative visualization book said the spiritual guides should always be positive and say kind things. If not, you could fire them. She fired the wizard. She could swear she had heard him whisper she had a fat ass after she had a run-in with a pint of rocky road.
After a few minutes passed and she knew the chocolate truffles were gone forever, she felt a sense of triumph. Whatever insane device her imagination came up with to keep her from eating the truffles, worked. At the same time that she felt triumphant she felt pathetic. Please. Little white mice? Now she felt like crying, but instead of giving in to the tears, she went to her ropero and pulled out her royal blue biking shorts, got her baseball cap, stuffed her hair into it, put her helmet over it and rode off on her bike in the warm sun. She pedaled hard; the blue sky swallowed her like a tunnel and she forgot about how much she hated her body.
When she got back in a full sweat after her hard ride, she showered, changed into a rust and blue silk sarong she had bought at the Tesuque Flea Market, and drove to Pancho Ortega’s neighborhood in search of the drumming party.
Lupe parked her car and walked through the small passageway that led from the side of the house to the back yard. She checked herself in the reflection of one of the windows that faced the walkway and she heard a soft whistle coming from the little white mice. She walked briskly to avoid the second thoughts, the ones that noticed her hips were too big or that she had a double chin.
The crowd was in a festive mood and Lupe was suddenly glad that she had come. Ruth spotted her and rushed to welcome her and give her a big fake kiss on the cheek with the accompanying “Mwa!”
Lupe mwawed back and hugged her friend.
“I’m so glad you changed your mind!” Ruth exclaimed taking her by the hand and leading her through the crowd.
Lupe followed Ruth through the narrow path and as she scanned the crowd, she saw him. He was sitting with the rest of the men, drumming. He was the one with a large conga in between his long legs. In the five seconds that Lupe had to look at him, she noticed that he was dark and thin and that his complexion had suffered from adolescent acne. He was balding and the short beard he wore was a white stubble, but his long sinewy arms were confident as he filled the air with the beat of his drum. He looked at her and his dark eyes smiled.
“Uh oh,” the little white mice said in unison.
Lupe’s heart beat fast as she looked back at him and then turned away.
“There’s someone I want you to meet, Dahling” she said. When Ruth was in the right mood she did a bad imitation of her Aunt Esther who apparently was a dead ringer for Zsa Zsa Gabor.
“Wait, Ruthie, not so fast. Let me get a drink first.” Lupe was dreading Ruth’s eagerness to hook her up with some guy, any guy, just to get her to “practice.” Practice, is what Ruth said Lupe needed in order to get better at finding the right guy. But at this moment, Lupe was having a hard time trying to keep her heart from jumping out of her throat and into love at first sight.
“It’s not what you think. Come on.” Ruth dragged her by the arm and Lupe took another back glance at the drummer. Was she imagining things or was he looking at her too?
They approached a round table where a stately woman sat surrounded by several admirers.
“Isabelle,” Ruth said ceremoniously, “this is my best friend Lupe.”
Isabelle was what Lupe considered “pleasingly plump,” that luxurious label a woman gets to wear when she’s over sixty and can afford to sacrifice her body to pâté and champagne.
Isabelle took both Lupe’s hands, “Hello, Lupe, a pleasure to meet you.” Isabelle’s eyes were a deep blue slate and her weathered skin shined with a combination of expensive moisturizer and the sun’s harsh vitality. Her piercing gaze accentuated her crow’s feet and made them beautiful.
“You are lovely, my dear. Sit down and tell me about yourself.”
Ruth looked on with an approving smile.
Lupe had heard of Isabelle from Ruth for a decade — she was Ruth’s psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of New Mexico. A New York transplant from the 70’s, she had become famous for her work with Native American shamanism and her own brand of Jungian transformational psychotherapy.
“I had been wanting Lupe to meet you for years, ” Ruth said, “and here you are! I didn’t even know you were back. What a coincidence!”
“There is no such thing as a coincidence, dear. Have I taught you nothing?” Isabelle laughed and her crow’s feet crinkled.
Ruth said, “Dr. Goldstein has been living in Copper Canyon for the past year, studying under a Taraumara shaman and finishing her book, The Power Within: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Wholeness.”
“I have advance copies in the car, and I would love for you to have one,” Isabelle said.
Ruth touched her heart and bowed her head. “Thank you so much. I’m honored.”
“Perhaps, you can share it with Lupe.” Isabelle said.
“I would love to read it,” Lupe said, “Ruth has told me a lot about you.”
“It’s good to meet you physically, Lupe, but I already knew you energetically.”
“Really?” Lupe said glancing at Ruth. Lupe made woo-woo eyes at Ruth, hoping her friend would respond to the secret code they had developed over the years. It was limited but succinct. Woo-woo eyes were an indication that some kind of paranormal phenomenon had transpired or was about to.
Ruth, however, missed her cue.
“Yes,” Isabelle went on, “although you see me as a white woman, I am really an indigenous Mexican. The body of the European is just the package. In my heart, I am Raramuri.”
“Raramuri?” Lupe asked trying to hide her disbelief.
“Yes, Taraumara. Raramuri is what we call ourselves.”
“I see,” Lupe said , still trying to make eye contact with Ruth. “That is very interesting.”
Isabelle didn’t notice Lupe’s search for Ruth’s acknowledgement and said, “I think you and I would have a lot to talk about.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” Lupe said as she stared at Ruth, this time not caring if Isabelle noticed. When she caught Ruth’s attention, Lupe made her woo-woo eyes go wide.
“Will you excuse us?” Ruth asked abruptly.
“Of course, whatever turns you on…” Isabelle said waving her amber and turquoise bejeweled hand.
When Ruth and Lupe were safely locked in the small bathroom in the hallway Lupe said, “Okay, you know I don’t want a therapist, right? I already have the little white mice!”
“She’s the best there is.” Ruth said.
“You set this up, didn’t you?” Lupe hissed.
“No! I’m shocked that you would think that. It’s a coincidence. I didn’t even know she was back!” Ruth said defending herself in a loud whisper.
“Didn’t you hear what Madame Freud said? There’s no such thing as a fucking coincidence!” Lupe’s black eyes almost popped out of her head.
“Honestly, Lupe. What do you think I am?”
“Life-long psychotherapy works for you, Ruth, but it doesn’t mean I have to do it.”
“I swear to God, I didn’t know she was going to be here, Lupe. Don’t you think it’s synergistic that we run into the woman who was responsible for my life’s transformation at a party? She never goes to parties! You have no idea how rare it is to see Isabelle in public.”
Lupe noticed the admiration in Ruth’s voice. “You think very highly of her, don’t you?”
“She changed my life, Lupe.”
“Well, I’m not into it and you need to chill out.”
“You could benefit,” Ruth said.
“Okay sorry, I’m getting pushy.”
“I know you mean well,” Lupe said softening her tone and putting her head on her friend’s shoulder, “but you need to stop it, Ruthie.”
“Okay, I’m sorry,” Ruth said and then added, “Borrón, borrón,” in a thick American accent. Lupe had taught Ruth some Spanish expressions in exchange for Yiddish ones. “Borrón” in Spanish was the approximate equivalent of “erase.” Anytime the two friends offended each other they would say, “Borrón, borrón,” requesting a clean slate. In exchange, Lupe was allowed to say “oy vey,” without Ruth cringing. Lupe eventually changed it to “¡ay vey!” the perfect Ruth and Lupe combo.
“Okay, now to the important stuff,” Lupe said changing the tone of the conversation. “Who’s the drummer? The tall mulatto guy with the acne scars?”
“Oh, him… We’ve never met but I think his name is Raul de Alejandro and he’s from Puerto Rico. He’s a doctor in Albuquerque.”
“A doctor? What a catch!” The little white mice called out.
“He’s gorgeous.” Lupe said.
“Isabelle might know him.”
There was a light but urgent knock on the bathroom door.
“Are we done?” Ruth asked.
“Yeah, we’re done, but no more referrals, okay?”
The man waiting to use the bathroom was wearing a sarong just like Lupe’s only it was turquoise and purple. He looked at the two women coming out and smiled liked he knew something he shouldn’t.
“God, I wonder what he thought we were doing in there.” Ruth asked.
“He’s wearing a skirt, Ruth. He understands.” Lupe retorted.