Published: June 14th 2008June 14th 2008
Maria, Javi and Marta
My willing English learners
So, the telenovela started with the amicable discharge from Mercedes’ house. She had family coming in for the boda and needed the space in her quaint, little piso. I found myself in the palace of María José, whom I thought was just an acquaintance, but turned out to play a much larger role in my own personal telenovela.
The Spanish boda was incredible. Antonio (sexy host brother) and I left a little late from “our” house, on the day he finally fully moved back in. We were barraged with phone calls about our location, Antonio and his “hermana americana”, as we made our way to the hotel that was holding the wedding. I found this brief drive the perfect time to ask about the relationship between María José and Antonio Gallego, her mysterious gentleman caller. The ceremony was held in the gardens of the hotel because under Catholic rule, a second marriage may not be held in a church (telenovela fact #1, crucial to plot #4, second marriage). After the kissing and crying, we mingled about. I was still feeling awkward and not yet prepared (Re: tipsy) enough to socialize with strangers, so I hung out with the familiar faces of Mercedes’ cousin and sister and their husband (who ended up being hilarious). After a bit, Antonio grabbed me to come meet his friends and this is when the gossip started flowing. One of Antonio’s friends spoke English and, eager to practice, we came to find it functioned perfectly as a secret language. He filled me in on the relationship troubles between Antonio and Eva (who was also present) and told me that there was no hope in reconciliation. Plot one: broken relationship between Antonio and Eva. I then ditched the young people for the oldies for a bit longer and then we made our way in for dinner (11 pm). I sat at the random table with some kids and their lame parents, but it was good to practice conversation about American politics in Spanish (“Who do you prefer? Obama or Hilary?”).
The party moved to the dance floor, I think I remember some line-dancing and a bit of faked sevillanas with Mercedes, and then at around 4 am (or 5? Ni idea), the DJ left and lights went down in the reception hall. A group of about 15 of us were left (including Mercedes) and naturally we sat around a table in the dark as a young woman sang flamenco songs, we drummed on the table and people took turns dancing Sevillanas (Antonio is quite the mover). Afterwards, the young people made it up to a hotel room and we sat around telling jokes and laughing until it ended with Jesús (the groom) puking on the ground, unable to lift himself up to the bathroom (what a wedding night). People dispersed around eight am and Antonio and I walked in “our” place at 9h30 am. Over 12 hours of Spanish partying.
The next week proceeded to be the most uncomfortable I have ever felt in my own skin (Plot two: unbearable awkwardness between the American exchange student and host brother). Many late night texts were sent questioning whereabouts and I had a panic attack anytime I heard the non-wobbling footsteps of someone other than María José outside of my door. We all watched Nadal’s tennis match against some Czeck and it came out that in his youth (ha!), Antonio was internationally recognized in tennis, competing in New York and around Spain (Plot two thickens: Antonio getting hotter).
On my last night in Sevilla, I went to visit Mercedes and this is when everything erupted. I showed up at 11 pm on Monday night, expecting a short despedida and a couple of pictures, but got myself into an hour-long gossip fest, finding out everything I ever wanted to know. It all started with two key sentences, uttered by me, bait for more information:
“Antonio es guapo. María José no es tan divertida como tú.” Here it comes…
Plot three: “María José es amargada.” She is embittered. After two children where her guapísimo husband, he started messing around with a girl in her twenties (the age of Mercedes’ oldest son). He went around with this girl for ten years while still with María José until their 25th anniversary, when she suggested a recommitment ceremony. He turned it down, came out about the other mujer, and moved in with her. Three months later, he came back to María José, she took him back because of how deeply she loves him, and they spent another six months together before he finally left her for good and married the other girl. This broke María José’s heart and is the primary reason for her often times cold behavior (unlike Mercedes, who is unbelievably social and pleasant). She still vacations in their same beach town and, more than 15 years later, is still unhappy. She now dates Antonio Gallego (whom she dates just to not be alone), a portly fellow who frequently comes over asking her to mend his pants.
Plot four: Antonio Gallego is hermano primo or primo hermano, or some weird distant-relative of Mercedes’ husband (now passed away). They are a wealthy family from the pueblo with investments in gasoline. Apparently, Antonio Gallego’s cousin (who also happens to be called Antonio Gallego) lavishly throws his money around having parties on the farm and cruises on his yacht off of Málaga (and I’m finding this out now?). María José’s boyfriend is of the same wealth, but is just the opposite with his money, according to Mercedes. Side note about why María José has a sick apartment without ever having to leave to work: She has an olive business in the campo that she started herself and will fall into the hands of Antonio (Plot two enhances, family business in Spain all lined up??).
Plot five: María José separated herself from Mercedes and her boys when Jesús divorced his first wife. Apparently María José didn’t approve of him leaving this girl, whom he had been with for so long, and she found it appropriate (and her business!) to become visibly upset with Mercedes and the family. I found myself in an awkward position, having first lived with Mercedes and being invited to the boda while María José was not (about which she was obviously upset, expressing to me how Jesús and Antonio are like brothers and grew up at each other’s houses). But Mercedes and Jesús are not at fault for not inviting her- she has no right to judge Jesús for not being happy in his first marriage. Things were uncomfortable when María José asked me about my despedida with Mercedes, using me as some sort of territory. “So then you just called and spoke with her tonight?” “Oh, no, uhm actually I went over there for un rato and chatted.” “Oh…” Yeah…
Plot one: Host brother’s broken marriage explained. Apparently Antonio and Ewva had been together for a very long time, through young adulthood, without being married. They finally got married six years ago and Antonio was not happy. Eva really wanted a baby and after getting pregnant, things still didn’t change. Both Mercedes and the friend at the wedding were sure that things are irreconcilable because of how poorly the two work together, but María José is still under the illusion that Antonio might get back together with Eva. I have no opinion or personal commentary.
So yeah. Saying goodbye to Mercedes was devastating. I didn’t really realize how awesome she is. She told me she was ecstatic that I came to the boda and that I was quite the charmer of everybody- her old friends, Antonio’s friends, the little kids at my table (which was great to hear, because María José had been making me feel rather odd). I told her to come to the US to stay with my Mom or Gubba in Cali and she raved about how great we all are, how she spoke with Mom in English and how hilarious Auntie Gail is.
It was a bit inconvenient moving out, but the brief tryst with Antonio at the center of a Sevillana telenovela made my experience that much more incredible. Unbelievable.