love in a mexican restaurant

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When I was 15 I had a wicked crush on the head waiter of a Mexican restaurant. I know how that sounds so allow me to clarify: he was hot. Not just hot: sexy. Like Latin-Lover sexy. And seeing how I was one big, raw, 15-year-old hormone walking around, my mind and body were sent into a tailspin by his manly la testosterona (despite the fact that the sex of the word testosterone in Spanish is feminine).

He was probably in his late 20s (that added tremendously to his appeal) and his sexy uniform included tight acid-washed jeans, a tight white t-shirt, and a tight, shiny black mane that leaned more mullet-y than I care to admit to you now. It was most certainly hairsprayed. Or gelled. Or both. God, this sounds bad in hindsight but you must TRUST ME (or at least 15-year-old me): he was SEXY.

You may be asking: why did I spend so much time in a certain Mexican restaurant developing a burning infatuation for one of its employees?

When I was in phase 2 of my childhood (the vegan phase) my mother and stepfather were constantly traveling for work. Because of this, over the years my brother and I had various nannies. It began when we were ages 9 and 13 and even though we were pretty self-sufficient, they were our supplemental parents: they whipped up breakfast smoothies and drove us to school and dance lessons and Marie Callender's and the mall. They also provided good guidance and mentoring. For example: field trips to Mexican restaurants to lust after the mulleted-yet-sexy staff.

My nanny at the time (we'll call her K) was awesome. She was only 5 years older than me and despite being moderately kooky, she was a legit role model who celebrated her weirdness while encouraging mine. K wore little dresses with no underwear because she wanted to feel "free" and was constantly drinking giant cups of coffee and journaling dramatically about things she was passionate about (everything). When we weren't making up our own songs, we spent hours driving and singing to musicals at the top of our lungs in her extremely used and temperamental honda. K had come to us via upstate New York and while we were in her charge, Southern California gradually seduced her into becoming blonder and tanner. Our family owned a tanning bed (I know) and it lived permanently in the room designated for nannies. Some of them used it and some didn't. [Our nanny T, for example, was borderline goth and never set foot in there. I don't think it was out of health concerns, though, since she had that pull-out-your-own-eyelashes disease that screamed self-destruction.] K spent more time in the tanning bed than all the other nannies combined. She may have even broken it. I've never seen a browner white person. At her tanorexic peak, she was so tan that the whites of her teeth and eyes could blind you in one flash.

Her sense of self-expression rubbed off on me in the form of a blazer I picked out while shopping with my mom. It was navy blue and had props attached to it. No joke: there was a thick watch chain that led to nowhere, and a pair of auxiliary eyeglasses sewn into the chest pocket to make it appear the wearer had casually hung them there in a rush. They were only attached by one hinge so they flopped around a little if you happened to break into a light jog. A drycleaner's nightmare, this blazer also featured a permanent silk pocket square that had a paisley motif. It should be revealed that the full effect of its charm was the accompanying wardrobe, the uniform of the early-90s SoCal young lady: a t-shirt with removable shoulder pads, pleated too-long jorts, scrunchy socks, and white LA Gear high tops. I wore this blazer often because it made me feel grown up.


There was a little house on the property of this Mexican restaurant and K's best friend Missy lived there with the owner. Missy was many years his junior and he had an old man name that didn't help the age gap. It was something like Walter or Hume or Orville. Anyway. We were always visiting. And hanging out in the restaurant. That's where I saw him: the waiter of my dreams.

One thing a lusty 15-year-old doesn't wield is subtlety, so I made blatant 15-year-old googly eyes at my sexy Latin waiter every chance I could. He was good-natured and a big fat flirt and would give me his charismatic smile and linger with the eye contact. Although he did this for everyone, I imagined it was just for me. It's no wonder I developed a keen addiction to enchilada sauce. I'd always order extra for the possible stray brush of his acid-washed leg on my arm as he delivered it to the table. I'd inhale as he set it down in hopes of catching a whiff of his crunchy hair gel. I had a huge crush before I even knew his name but after multiple enchiladas over several visits, I finally learned it was Jo Jo. I went home that night to lie in bed and whisper it over and over (music to my ears!). K bought me a fresh journal (she always encouraged my feelings) and I wrote entry after entry about my lovesick heart and how Jo Jo was the only cure. All I wanted was to kiss him. Why should we (or our lips) be kept apart? I knew the age difference was a hurdle but if I waited at least six years to be fully legal like Missy then perhaps it was possible. I mean, look at her and Herbert, I thought. They lived in their very own dumpster-adjacent casita! I cried to Air Supply's Greatest Hits and wrote poems and burned incense with my bedroom door closed until I developed a hacking smoker's cough. After a couple weeks of this, I learned his name was actually Georgio. He was just saying it really fast with his thick accent and sexy Latin tongue. All my American ears heard was Jo Jo. It took one solid afternoon of back-track journaling (including a whole bottle of Wite Out and several loops of Air Supply's Greatest Hits) to replace all the Jo Jos with Georgios.

One night as we were leaving, Nanny K ran behind the restaurant to pick up something from Missy and Ebenezer's while I waited outside and guess who was having a smoke break? (Or maybe brushing his hair? I can't remember. Nevertheless.) We had never been alone before and my hormones went extra haywire. I was absolutely certain this was the last opportunity I'd ever have in my entire life to seize this kind of romantic moment. It was MEANT TO BE. All the crying and journaling and incense had paid off! It had led to this exact moment and I had to act! He extinguished his cigarette on a tree stump (or set down his hairbrush?), propped up one acid-washed leg on a nearby planter and turned, flashing his intoxicating, dazzling smile at me. Next thing I knew I leapt into his arms and pressed my lips against his. I had to stand up high to reach but my LA Gears had a reinforced toe that didn't let me down. Thank GOD I'm wearing my blazer! I thought. Maybe I can pass for 17! Well. That darling man had the kindness to kiss me back (not sure he really had a choice) and it was the most amazing kiss of my young life.

Afterward, he gave me the biggest compliment. "Where did you learn to kiss like that?" He asked. In hindsight I see he probably meant, "Where did you learn to cover 8 feet of patio in .00006 seconds and throw yourself into the arms of a much-older waiter of a Mexican restaurant without snagging your fake glasses on anything?"

Either way, I just kept quiet and smiled.

A minute later I saw K's teeth coming toward me through the dark. We climbed into her honda and headed home to do some serious journaling.


P.S. this.


  1. That was pitch perfect beautiful. It warmed my retro heart. I might even spike my bangs today as a tribute! and I'm definitely going to fit some Air Supply lyrics into conversation as naturally as possible today. (You know you can't fool me... I've been loving you too long.) Along with all the other amazing things you do, you should seriously consider writing a memoire.

  2. Sorry about your lovesick heart but that is the funniest thing I've read in a long time!!

  3. This has mini-movie written all over. A mini-movie and corn chips! Hilarious Jolie. You guys did have an odd assortment of over-sized appliances - tanning bed, floatation tank, and wasn't there a giant slurpee machine in Josh's room...

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  6. Love in the Enchilada Sauce, oscar winning short or porn, could go either way. Great story.

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  10. to heck with Georgio, i'm crushing on YOU cause you ALWAYS make me laugh


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