For my father's 60th birthday dinner, we all headed to a Mexican restaurant on the Jenks river walk in Tulsa. It was a Friday evening on a holiday weekend, so the place was packed. We had some drinks at the bar while we waited for our table. I was engaged in a conversation with my brother, stepsis, and bro-in-law when my father's attention was pulled away by a fellow next to us at the bar. This is not out of the ordinary -- my dad is a man about town and he's a big cheese at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It's normal for him to know someone wherever we are, and often he has Spanish conversations with these acquaintances.
At some point, my father introduced us to this fellow. (None of us can remember his name now, but it sounded like Bravo, so that's what we'll call him.) Bravo explained (in Spanish) that he didn't speak any English. It was right about this point we were summoned for our table. My dad gave this guy his card in case he could help him out in any way. Bravo insisted that later on in our meal, my dad rejoin him at the bar for a beer. And off we went.
Now, a little about Bravo...or what we know at this point anyway. He was born in Dallas, but lives in Mexico. His family owns a big business in Tulsa, and every summer he comes here for three months to make sure things are going smoothly. He doesn't speak English. I assumed that the rapport he created with my father was business-related, and didn't give this guy a second thought.
After we'd been sitting at the table for a bit, my dad notices that Bravo has left the bar. We wonder why he would invite dad for a beer and then disappear, but we didn't dwell on it too long. A short while later, Bravo comes to our table from another part of the restaurant and sits right down. He and my father immediately start chatting like old friends, so my siblings and I have our own conversation.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Bravo gesturing a lot towards me. I turn on my Spanish ear, and hear that my father seems to be talking about me more than the other kids. I joke with Bianca that I think our dad is arranging a marriage for me and that they are discussing the dowry. We have a grand laugh about it. Little did I know my jokes weren't too far from the truth.
Bravo stays with us for our whole meal. My dad is the only one conversing with him, and every few minutes my dad will ask me random questions like, "have you ever thought about owning or working in a fashion boutique?" and "are you guapa (beautiful)?" (I find out later that Bravo is insisting that my father ask me these questions.) I realize now that this guy is super into me (the longing stares across the table should have clued me in sooner) and I worry that he's asking my father for my hand in marriage. My dad mentions that Bravo wants to come back to the house for a beer with us. I still am naively thinking he's building a business relationship and this does not have everything to do with me. My stepsister and her husband leave for the evening and Bravo buys the rest of us two more rounds of beer -- the second round being Pacifico, the beer from Mazatlan, where Bravo lives. I guess he was subtly trying to acclimate me to my future home.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we all head back to the house for some drinks.
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