Last night after closing the café to customers, Guido invited his parents round for a quiet meal. The purpose of the get together was to tell them that the two of us were going to get married. Before they arrived Guido said to me, “Let’s break it to them gently.” This made it sound like we were going to tell them their gold fish had just died, instead of informing them their only son was announcing that he was marrying the man he loved.
Other than being able to speak Spanish, Guido has absolutely nothing physically in common with his parents. I cannot recognise one single similarity. Rosa and Juan both have very long bodies but very short legs. They have lots of spiky hair which they dye jet black with alarming regularity. Not only do they look Spanish but they also sound Spanish. They are both teeny tiny. You could pick them up and put them in your back pocket like two little dolls. When I met Rosa and Juan for the first time I immediately drew their attention to the relative height difference between them and their son. This was just in case no one else ever had the opportunity to point it out to them before.
“When Guido was a baby,” I said, “did you discover him under a cabbage patch leaf?” I asked. This was because Guido seemed to have skipped the Spanish gene completely. They both thought this was very, very, funny.
“Ha, Ha, Ha,” his parents both spluttered in response. “You a funny boy!”
I just couldn’t visualise how on earth Rosa gave birth to Guido. I honestly don’t know how he had fitted up there or how she squeezed him out. If you took measurements I am sure it would have been a mind boggling gynaecological wonder of the modern age. The doctors have probably erected a commemorative plaque at the hospital.
“Rosa, giving birth to Guido must have been like trying to crap a refrigerator,” I said. When I said that she thought it was very, very, funny.
“Ha, Ha, Ha.” I remember she almost fell over on her tiny little Andalucian legs. “You a very, very, very funny boy!”
That wasn’t the only time they thought I was very funny. Rosa and Juan pretty much laugh at everything I say. Whenever they come round to our home they start laughing the moment I open the door. This can be quite disconcerting when all I have said is hello, and, how are you? On certain occasions they will also point at me and laugh. I honestly think if I told them I had three weeks to live they would collapse in hysterics. They are certainly easily entertained. My own parents, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. After ten minutes in their company you have an overwhelming compulsion to go and stick your head in the nearest gas oven. Fortunately Guido does not laugh every time he sees me, as that would simply add to my long list of personal complexes. He can be quite serious, especially when he is making tapas or is asking me to marry him.
Guido made us a delicious mushroom risotto. I told him he should add it to the daily specials board. He explained you have to keep stirring risotto methodically and adding stock so it doesn’t dry out and if he did that all day long his arm would drop off. Then, just after the grilled peaches with mascarpone but before the cappucinno, Guido dropped our bomb. I could tell Rosa and Juan weren’t expecting it as conversationally it didn’t quite flow from what we’d been discussing. Which was the ridiculous cost of squid in Spain. Guido turned to his parents and said blankly, “So here is how it is. Jean-Paul and I are getting married.” That’s what he said to them. It came totally out of the blue. Deadpan. Just like that. So on a scale of one to ten in the “break it to them gently” stakes I’d say it was bearly a two and a half. I just hope their gold fish never snuffs it.
There was a moment’s silence whilst I think they processed this information from blunt old English back into Spanish. After a few blinks of her tiny little eyes Rosa’s brow creased in realisation. In one giant leap she threw herself across the table straight at me. She cupped my face in her tiny little hands and yelled, “Homo!” Well I thought she yelled homo. Guido said later that what she actually said was “hermosa” which means, “beautiful”. At the other end of the table Juan dropped off his chair and fell to his knees like he was about to pray. Only he didn’t pray he just started banging his chest they way an orangutan does and kept saying “Te amo” – “I love you” – over and over.
“Well that didn’t turn out like I expected,” I said to Guido later in bed.
“Yeah I agree,” he said bashing his pillow. “The risotto definitely lacked salt.”