Like any good American, I watch an inordinate, almost embarrassing amount of television. Personally, I’m partial to cartoons and shows involving adults dressed as oversized animals, typically dancing around while pretending to teach some lesson or other, but what I’m most partial to is that most alluring of child-centric starlets, Dora the Explorer.
She’s got it all: amazingly good looks, a bunch of cartoon friends, proficiency in two of the most prominent languages on the planet, and even a cool cousin named Diego. I don’t even think she wears makeup, but she still manages to look great every day and I, for one, love her for itâ€¦ okay, well, maybe there are more reasons behind my love of Dora, but all those things still probably count for something.
So you can imagine my delight when I arrived in Puerto Rico to find that most girls of Dora’s age are smart, bilingual, and of astoundingly good looks. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I didn’t know that the eye of the beholder is in Puerto Rican preschools. I don’t know how Diego can get his homework done around here. No wonder he needs his rescue backpack just to get his assignments done.
We recently threw a lavish blowout for Patrick, the sort of thing fitting for a summer kid to usher in his age of ocho and all the cool kids were gleefully in attendance. There was me, him, our other brother, and a bunch of the locally flavored juniors as well. It was no big deal until about an hour into the party when I saw her.
Left – Early in the evening, even before the sun had set, I was already tired, fussy and fidgety. My nerves would later settle once I met the first love of my life. Oh Dora, how I remember you to this day upon seeing your smiling face in photos.
I played it cool at first, hiding behind furniture and staring like a stalker. She was everything I imagined a real life Dora to be. She spoke fluent Spanish in addition to as much English as I do; she was older than me and she was verily slathered in the sort of good looks you only see on PBS between the hours of 7-8am, 2-3pm and at odd hours over the weekend. She was the total package and she must have seen me coming a mile away (though she didn’t notice me behind the leafy potted plant, which was a huge bonus.)
And no matter how strong the sun had been all summer she didn’t have any of the splotchy pink patches of sunburn my whole staff had suffered.
She was almost a whole head taller than me with dark and curly locks, hands that were soft and sometimes clammy, she had pretty on tap, which is what I think first drew me to stare at her in silent embarrassment from behind people, places, things and other such nouns.
She said her name was Jerrica, which I think is Puerto Ricanese for Dora. Like the real Dora, she had a half-trained monkey with her at all times, but she called him her brother so I could relate. We danced in circles much of the night, rarely sharing a word. Sometimes one of us would fall down and cry but it didn’t matter as long as we had each other, juice, and maybe just a bit more cake to ease the pain.
At the end of the night we exchanged numbers. I told her I was three and she told me she was cinco, which I think is Spanish for “angelic.” We said goodnight, swore we’d meet again, then each went home to never see each other again. If I was a dedicated stalker, I could track her down, but what we shared was worth more than that, and I won’t tarnish the memory. Instead I’ll just let it fade and tuck this entry into my journal for future reminiscence.
Hopefully when I think back on the troubles of my childhood, I’ll see this as the chapter it was; a day I got to foster a crush, express it, and not have my feelings hurt. Oh Latin ladies, I swear you’ll be the death of me someday.
Above – I think I was supposed to pay more attention to her baby sister, and I’m sure she’s plenty nice and all, but I had found my Dora the Explorer, and I wasn’t about to tear my gaze away.
Above – We stood on the ramp for a while. I wanted to muster the courage to say something suave, but could only muster my name and a sloppy pail of gibberish. I think she understood me well enough, because she kept giving me looks like, well, like I don’t know how to explain. Fortunately I don’t have to explain because this is the look right here.
Above – We held hands and danced throughout the night. We did the clockwise circle, the counter-clockwise circle, and the awkward-unsure-of-directional rotation dance as well. Sure, we didn’t have training, rhythm or any concept of music or dance, but we did have hands held in clammy hands, and for me at least, that was enough. And by the way, I was recently asked if I thought Dora was “pretty” or “ugly”, and I shocked the crowd by saying that she’s “beautiful”… I even said it in a drawn out way… Yep, I’m pretty sweet on that Dora alrighty.