He wanted her to meet his family. They were all going to have a BBQ by the beach.
His dad packed the meat, buns, and vegetables. His mom packed the towels and sunscreen. It was his job to go to the minisuper and pick up drinks — juice for the kids, beers for the guys, and Topo Chicos for the girls.
He picked her up on his scooter. She was wearing a bikini, shades, and a fanny pack. They met up with his family on the beach.
They got her a lawn chair and smiled. She didn’t speak much Spanish, but they managed to understand her name, where she was from, etc. She was American, she worked remotely, and she decided to stay in Costa Rica until the pandemic was over. She didn’t want the vaccine, and she was afraid that if she went back to the states, they would make her.
They seemed to be getting along. He grabbed a beer and put his arm around her. They looked at the beach.
His aunt wanted to go swim. She left her baby with them. They took turns playing with the baby.
She made a face and whispered to him.
“I think the baby’s diaper needs to be changed.”
He handed her the baby.
She looked shocked.
At the end of the night, he drove back to her place. She had an AirBnb in the nice part of town. New washer and dryer. Fast internet. Hot water. She had a toaster and a microwave. His mom always said those were for lazy people. What was wrong with a pan for toast?
They rinsed the sand off and then cuddled on her bed. She put on Netflix and they watched some murder documentary she had already seen.
“How did you like my family?” He asked.
“Good! They were nice.” Her voice was really high.
“Yeah. It’s just different, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“The culture. It’s different.”
“Like, okay. I kind of thought we would go to a restaurant or something. Not just sit on the beach. The guy who owned the hotel next to us kept giving us dirty looks. And so did that bridal shower group.”
“I mean, you know. It’s different for you. But they saw me and I think they knew I was American, and I just…it felt like they were laughing at me.”
“You were ashamed to be seen with me.”
“No! Not with you.”
“Just my family.”
“Look, okay. When we are riding around town on your motorcycle, it’s cool. I have this sexy Latino boyfriend. But when I’m sitting on the beach holding a baby with a full diaper, and your mom has made a tent city on the beach, and we can’t even eat in town, it just…you know. It’s ghetto.”
He got up and started to put his shirt on.
“I’m going to go.”
“Don’t be mad. I’m just being honest.”
“Yeah. I know.”
He left and rode away.
He didn’t respond to her texts. She would be nice and apologetic, and then she would be angry and drunk. Finally, he saw her in town looking for a bike.
Of course — He had done all her errands for her. He brought her food and took her to her yoga classes. Now she had to get around on her own.
He started to hit up the bike shops. He knew them all — He had known those guys since he was a kid.
“Don’t sell to my ex. Or if you do, give her a shitty bike.” He showed them the text messages. “She was ashamed of my family. She called us ghetto.”
They all agreed. A week later, he saw her with a rusty bike. Little by little, she fixed the brakes, the handles.
And he kept telling anyone who would listen — She had new boyfriends, sure, but he made sure to let them know she wasn’t a “good girl.”
“She’ll let you have sex with her, though.” He said.
One day, she came up to him.
“I know you’ve been talking about me. I know what you’ve been saying.”
“I’m telling you to stop.”
“You can’t tell me what to do. This is my neighborhood. You came in here and acted like you owned the place. This isn’t New York, where you can call people ghetto and nothing happens to you.”
“You’re a piece of shit.”
“Go home, then. And you know what? I wish I could get the vaccine. You’re getting it for free, and you won’t stop bitching about it. I wish I had your problems. You’re just a stuck-up bitch.”
“You only wanted me because I’m American.”
“Yeah. You know why? Because American girls are easy. And I can find another one like that.” He snapped his fingers.
She slapped him. He just laughed. She stormed off. It began to rain.
He still saw her around town. She started dating a friend of his. They got into a few fights over her.
“She’s changed now. She’s more mellow. We might get married.”
Then, his friend was excited. “She’s pregnant! This is perfect. She’s going to get citizenship here, through the baby. Then she can move in with me, or maybe I can move in with her, because her house is nicer.”
A week later, she was gone. His friend was distraught.
“Is she going to keep the baby?” He asked.
“No. And she’s not coming back. Says her mom got her a job somewhere. She’s going to get the abortion, then the vaccine, then start working. I even told her to just leave the baby with me. My family could help take care of the baby. Why does she have to do that?”
He remembered her face that day on the beach, the disgust in her eyes when she saw the baby with the wet diaper.
“I’m sorry,” he said to his friend. “It’s like when they go rafting, or go to the waterfall, or learn to surf. She wanted the experience. But she doesn’t want to live like us. She just wanted a tour.”