| 80 & 8l. THE MIXED COUPLE:
You see so many of them in Cuba, you stop seeing them, but this black
and white couple made a good picture, because they were at a table in
Palatino's with a lot of very white tour-bussers around, so I signaled
the guy not to alert the blonde and tried a couple of shots, neither of
which worked. My photo successes are always luck.
He invited me to sit with them, which I did but I declined the rum, signaling the waiter who knows me and brought me a Cristal, shrugging an apology because it was all they had that day.
The guy was a conspiratorial sort. She was dumb. She was dressed like a chica and he was really casual for a Cuban, dressed almost like me. We talked about drinks and the town. She was studying accounting, not working. He didn't work much either - some - was studying commerce. She was sure there would be work in Cienfuegos for an accountant. There always was. He didn't know.
I made sure they knew I was not anybody official before leading up to the question. She wasn't a suspicious type anyway. "Sure. I signed. Everybody did?" Why? She had no reason. She had no politics. She never thought about such stuff. She didn't care if she signed or not. But everybody else seemed hot for it, so she signed. "It was just that everyone signed. So I did. Didn't you?" she asked him.
He stared at me long and hard before telling me in a very low, determined voice, "No firme."
"Why not?" He rolled up his T-shirt sleeve to the shoulder, revealing a blue tattoo on his dark brown skin: U.S.A. He had another on his other shoulder, and a third repetition on his chest. He was of course very theatrical about it.
"Everything is bad here. Everything you want costs dollars." etc. But he wasn't afraid. He hadn't even looked around before his unveiling act. All his friends knew he didn't sign. But he didn't know anyone else who hadn't. He didn't think it was a matter of fear or bravery, though. He thought everyone had been fanatically eager to sign except him.