Rolando: Puerto Rican TV Star

July 15th, 2017

It was Spring 1996 and I was sitting on a coach bus with twenty other kids in front of Newberry Math and Science Academy, ready to start our eighth grade class trip to Washington DC.

I was out of my mind. I was about to go on my first cross country trip without parents.

There were other firsts that trip, too, things that had a profound impact on me.

Like when my buddy, and bus mate, Pete, introduced me to the late great Cuban bassist, Israel “Cachao” Lopez. I listened to him on repeat all through Ohio. And that record shop in DC where, for the first time, I found and listened to a copy of Dizzy Gillespie’s, “Night in Tunisia” and my teacher had to physically pull me out of the shop because I was so entranced and delaying the tour.

And of course the experience of being in DC and seeing all the monuments and just being in a city I had never been to before–all memorable experiences.

Then there was, well, let’s just call her Nancy for the sake of anonymity.

On that trip, amongst the many other firsts that I experienced, at the wise and ripened old age of 13, Nancy became the “woman” that I was going to marry. My true and eternal love.

We had so much in common–so my 13 year old mind reasoned. Nancy is Puerto Rican. am Puerto Rican. Nancy is cute as hell. am sexy as hell. Nancy is on this trip. am on this trip, too!

That’s all I based the idea of our impending marriage on.

The problem was, Nancy and I were always friendly, but she never paid much attention to me beyond a “hello”  back in Chicago. And there was also that I was a chicken shit, too afraid to say anything to her.

One day about three days into the trip my bus mate sat down next to me and said, “Dude, dude, Nancy is back there with Gina and Lisa talking about how cute your are.”

“What?” I said. “Stop playing, bro.”

“I’m serious, bro. I went to the bathroom and could hear them.”

“Tell me exactly what she said.”

“I heard Lisa tell Nancy, “Don’t you think Ro cute?”And then Nancy said, “He is.” Then she said, “He reminds me of Eddie, right? With his hair.” And then they all laughed.”

“Eddie? I remind her of Eddie, with my hair? And why did they laugh?”

“That’s what she said, bro.”

I sat with that for a few hours as we travelled. ‘Eddie with my hair? Who is Eddie?’ 

Then it hit me. Eddie Torres the Puerto Rican detective in the TV show New York Undercover.

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Eddie Torres–originator of the Puerto Rican Duck Lips.

“Yo, she thinks I look like Eddie Torres, bro. The cop on that TV show.”

“Oh, shit, bro…. Wait, you look nothing like that dude. I mean, you’re both Puerto Rican, but that’s it.”

“Nah, that’s it bro. She likes me cause I got that star quality about me.”

The rest of the trip goes by and I don’t say a word to her. I’m just content that she thinks I’m cute, and that I remind her of a Puerto Rican TV star.

Finally, at a truck stop on the way home, I built up enough courage to talk to her.

I approached Nancy, who happened to be with Lisa.

“Hey, Nancy, you have a good trip?”

“Yeah, Ro. You?”

“Yeah. A real good trip.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah it is. Listen, I know you think I’m cute and all, and that I remind you of Eddie Torres from that TV show, I just wanted to tell you I think you’re cute too.”

“Oh, I….”

“What?”

“Who told you that?”

“Nah, I just know things and that’s cool that you feel that way. I mean he kind of does look like me, only a lot older.”

Then came another first, happily and at the same time cruelly  provided by Lisa.

“Boy, she don’t think you look like no Eddie Torres from the TV show, that man is fine,  you look like Eddie Munster with your Widow’s Peak.”

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“Eddie… with his hair”

‘Oh no. My Widow’s Peak. I’m not a sexy Puerto Rican TV star, I’m a Puerto Rican version of a black and white freak from a 60’s sitcom about monsters,’ I think as I try to figure  a way out.  

The best I could do was, “Well you’re both stupid. And prevalence of the Widow’s Peak in the male population in this country is less then 3%. So that’s makes me pretty unique, ok?”

Needless to say we never got married.

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