Just a Gigolo

Pen Pals and Love

Writing to a pen pal
Writing to a pen pal | Source
Love, Honor and Negotiate
Love, Honor and Negotiate | Source

What is a Gigolo


Merriam-Webster defines a "Gigolo" as a man who is paid by a woman to be her lover and companion.

Letters Written in Cursive

Remember those long forgotten days of having pen pals in far off places? There were no personal computers, no Skype, and those long distance phone calls were few and far between because of being cost prohibitive. We were exposed to the extra phone charges when making a “person to person” long distance call. So how did we communicate with each other in those days of yore? We wrote letters to one another and we answered correspondence, occasionally enclosing photographs of ourselves, our geography or of family and mutual friends. We were distant from each other, yet tied together with a string of words in a letter. Thumbs weren’t for texting and instead they helped cradle the pen or pencil we wrote with. For some strange reason, life didn’t seem so hectic back in the 1960s.

Graduation Gift

I had visited California twice before my graduation. I was privileged to have met a wonderful Mexican family who had two daughters around my age. Their parents owned a restaurant and my parents became fast friends with them through a mutual acquaintance. At only 12 years old I was entranced by the beauty of one daughter named Kathy and after my stay, the two of us kept up with each other through the power of letters. I felt so close and comforted in my preteen and teenage years every time I would see the postmark from California. Our letter writing campaign went on for four more years when I took my next journey out we I 16-years old. Both Kathy and her sister Sarah had matured and developed into gorgeous young ladies and their parents looked the same. Manuel was always welcoming in his khaki pants and flip flops, sporting salt and pepper hair and a mustache that matched with that ever-present warm smile which prominently showed off his gold front tooth. He and his wife Esperanza were by far the two nicest people I had ever met in my short life span.

Mexican Food

The restaurant was set up on a major avenue with a lot of traffic and in a thriving neighborhood. Connected to the restaurant were a back courtyard and then the two story house with the girls and Manuel and Esperanza living on the first floor and the girls’ grandfather and Uncle Tony living in the upstairs. I loved the ethnicity of it all and the sense of family, love and cooperation in running the family business. Manuel had asked my mom to let me stay there and he would see to my education, plus buy me my own car for transportation, but alas my mother declined the offer so the pen pal friendship went on.

Airplanes and Mexican Beer

As a graduation present, my parents purchased an airline ticket for me to go back to California and reunite with my far away friends where I took up residence on their living room couch for several weeks. For me, it was a life-altering event and a time filled with memories that have lasted my entire life. Never could I live long enough to repay the kindness and hospitality this family showered on me. Six days a week were filled with duties around the restaurant. In the morning Manuel and I would travel to the Farmer’s Market for fresh produce, return for a breakfast of steak, refried beans with cheese and eggs, and then the process of making fresh nachos and tacos for the 11:00 A.M. opening. At 2:00 P.M. the business closed for Manuel’s afternoon shower and siesta only to reopen at 4:00 P.M. and it stayed open until 11:00 P.M. The lunch crowd was subdued and business like, while the nighttime brought out a festive atmosphere of great food, large crowds, Mexicali beer and of course, tequila.

Restaurant Work

Kathy and Sarah’s grandfather did the prep work in the kitchen while Manuel performed all of the cooking. The girls also acted as waitresses with Esperanza as the hostess. I helped wherever I was needed and then there was good old Uncle Tony who was a charmer and a wheeler and dealer of rugged handsomeness. He had thick black hair, chiseled facial features, pearly white teeth and shirt unbuttoned two down with a gold crucifix around his neck. Always witty, smiling and seemingly carefree, it was impossible not to immediately like Uncle Tony. He just had a way of making people grin and laugh. However, being a naïve kid from back east it took me quite a while to realize that Tony was, in fact, a hustler and a true gigolo. Women would come to the restaurant alone and Tony would seat them in one particular booth. The two of them would sit for a while and then Tony would get up, hand me the menus, look at the woman and inform me whether he would be gone for a half an hour or two hours, then off they would go into the night. One particular evening Tony and a rather large female were sitting across from each other in the famous booth. I couldn’t help but notice how they both kept looking in my direction and giggling. He motioned me to their table and had me sit next to the woman at which point he said, “Well, here he is…he’s all yours.” The female grabbed me and like a banana peel I slid under the table to the other side. Tony was in hysterics, as my face turned as red as a beet. The woman lunged across at me and I frantically slid out of my seat and into the other area of the restaurant. Tony shook his head and the two of them made their exit. Whew…I was saved from an experience I did not want in my biography.

Finding a Job During the Vietnam War

Although the Los Angeles Times Newspaper had a strike going on Tony said he could still get me into personnel for a job interview. The picket line went around the block, but Tony said, “Hey kid. Now listen carefully. You don’t want to mess with these people so keep your head down, do not make eye contact, don’t say a word, follow me and walk fast.” He led and I followed. My dad would have been upset with me had he known I crossed a picket line. To this day, I don’t know how I got an interview, but there I was in the personnel office of the LA Times. I didn’t get hired. For you see I was classified as 1-A by the Selective Service and Vietnam was in full throttle mode. The Times informed me they didn’t want to go through a hiring process only to have me drafted.

Watches For Sale

Tony would be absent for days on end as he traveled to Mexico returning with boxes of watches and a potpourri of merchandise. It is anyone’s guess what he paid or how he acquired his goods, except he sold the watches with 3-inch wide leather bands for just a few dollars and still managed to make a huge profit. He gave me several of these watches. Why? I have no idea, but, whatever the reason Tony liked me and even with his character flaws I liked him. To say the least, Uncle Tony was a conundrum.

The Draft

Back in the day, males 18 years old and over could not be out of their areas for more than 30 days without notifying the Selective Service. I had long overstayed my California visit and it was time to go back home and make contact again with the government. I landed at Syracuse’s Hancock Airport with a massive tequila hangover and a broken pottery bull I had fallen on when entering the airplane. Two days after returning home I put a down payment on a used car with a watch that had a 3-inch leather band. Adios my friends…adios.

The Highway of Life

Source

FROM A NAÏVE KID TO THIS OLD GUY. WOW LIFE SURE DOES FLY BY!


WRITTEN BY: DENNIS L. PAGE

Still a kid at heart
Still a kid at heart | Source

Just a Gigolo

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Comments 20 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This was so much fun to read. Brought back memories of teenage day's. Life was more laid back. It seemed we had more to do and always on the go. Obesity was unheard of in teen years, now the kids hardly move away fron the internet. Thank's for sharing some good times...


Kieran Gracie 4 years ago

Great story, pagesvoice! I think you were lucky to slide under that table.....


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

I appreciate you stopping by and sharing in my story of the past. Yes, life was active and laid back in those long ago days. I got a kick out of watching my grandson climb a tree in my backyard...once we got him off of his hand held video games. Last week I actually showed him and had him help in making homemade rock candy. We made it all of the time when I was a kid and now he can have that experience in his memory bank as well.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

KG thank you for stopping by and commenting and you are so right in being lucky in that life saving slide. Ha ha ha The family was fantastic and Uncle Tony was a character that everyone should know and be cautiously curious about because he was unique!


Jessica 4 years ago

That was a great trip down memory lane with you Dennis. Thanks so much for sharing. I think it is wonderful that you were able to get to experience another way of life with such great friends. It sounds like you had many adventures in your time in Cali! Loved this!


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

It sounds like you met a true wheeler-dealer (and probable con-artist) in Tony. I think the charm is part of the package. I had a very bad Close Encounter with a Con-Artist some years ago, and after you're no longer around them, you are left wondering, "Who was that masked man?" Because the way those people survive is through the mask they present.

Very compelling anecdote - thanks for sharing! Voted up, interesting and useful!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

Sounds like you had an eye-opening trip in California visiting your friends but what wonderful memories you gained. Too bad you couldn't get a job at the LA Times - that would have been a lucrative job. And I have to agree - my dad too would have not been happy if I'd crossed a picket line either and to this day I never have.

Voted up and interesting.


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

D..Your writing is sooo...good! lol..you write a lovely picture..tell a beautiful story of simpler times when people could trust in others - even if that other had...flaws.lol..Uncle Tony sounds like quite the character, but, i was left wondering whether anything developed between you and either(or both?) sisters! ps..can't imagine why you didn't want chubby gigolo lover on your resume! lolxx


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

@ Marcy G It was so nice of you to stop by and read my article. I certainly appreciate your commenting as well. You are so right about the "man behind the mask." I guess I was too young and naïve to realize the "con" that was really there, but for a young man it was certainly an exciting time in my life.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Thank you so much Danette for taking the time to read and comment on my walk down memory lane. I too have never crossed a picket line except for the one time when I was too young to really know what I was doing. I firmly believe everything happens for a purpose, so there was a hidden reason the LA Times didn't hire me. Thank you for your vote.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Ms. L Thank you for coming out of the sun to read and comment on my article. LOL I guess the times seemed simpler then because of youth and the inexperience of life. While I have googled the names of the family I stayed with, I have not been able to reconnect and now I have kind of let go. However, the memories will last a lifetime.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

So much fun remembering the old days, isn't it? Great story, and I love your writing style. Voted up, funny and interesting.


sheilanewton profile image

sheilanewton 4 years ago from North Shields, UK

I hope this is going to be expanded into a memoir. You're an interesting guy and I LOVE your writing style. Kudos to you, sir.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

@ mperrottet - I'm so glad you enjoyed my story and I appreciate your vote of confidence. Also, thank you for enjoying the style of writing I employ. I honestly don't know any other way to write. "Yes" they were the good old days and I'm glad I survived them. Ha ha ha.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

@ sheilanewton - I'm so happy you dropped in and left such a nice comment. I guess I have a couple more stories of growing up and awkward moments and believe me, I had several. Thank you again.


picadilly profile image

picadilly 4 years ago from Schaumburg, IL

So beautifully put together with the tap of your fingers on your keyboard!! I see your memories,and hear your heart....the touch was magical! Well done! xo


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

@ picadilly - Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. You are too kind. It was fun to relive these wonderful memories. Thanks again for your kind words.


Perspycacious 4 years ago

Ahh, the joys and embarassments of the mid-teens years. How we survived them? Only by the grace of God. It's always interesting to reflect on parallel experiences. Thanks for the interesting read. Who sent the last of the penpal letters, and why was it the last one?


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

wow, you even had the chance to meet a gigolo, thanks for sharing with us the truths about them


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 22 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Needless to say, it was an eye opening experience.

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