Back when I was young and dumb (now I’m just old and dumb)… back in the mid ’90s when Facebook wasn’t even a belch in the wind and Mark Sucker-berg was learning HTML while crapping his Pampers, I lived with a Basque separatist and didn’t even know it. But just when you thought that wasn’t enough, leave it to me to throw in the fact that he was also my lover.
It all began with someone tapping my shoulder in class. I was taking a beginning guitar course at a San Francisco community college (just about to slack off) when some unprepared weenie (a very good looking one with a killer Castilian accent) asked in his Antonio Banderas “Mask of Zorro”ish voice, “Do you have a pen I could borrow?”
I turned around quite casually (expecting to see a man in a black mask) and cooly responded, “Why yes, I have a bed…I mean a pen, ” while handing over my $3 Bic felt tip point and not the usual free writing utensils I stole from dental offices. No, I didn’t really say “I have a bed” back then, but maybe I would have today being the confident (and lets just say it), desperate, 38 yr old hag I am now.
Considering the looks of this stranger now writing with my school supplies, its no wonder gay men want to join the military to man-handle terrorism…this supposed terrorist looked like a guy out of “Men’s Fitness” Magazine. He had aqua-green eyes, dirty blonde buzz-cut hair, and his body type screamed “OLE! OLE! OLE! I play Futbol!” (as in Eurosoccer).
Furthermore, he had one of those amazing last names of Basque origin (which I won’t mention due to the fact I like breathing and wish not fund a funeral home). But we can call him what I called him then, Xabi (short for Xavier).
As for my looks in 1996 (I know, I know…do we really have to go there, you are thinking. Hell, why not, I say for the sake of comedy), I looked like a wanna-be Liza Minnelli hairstyle model… minus the talent.
But there was a reason for my decision to have such short hair: It was easier to maintain when one had the daily habit of keeping bar stools warm. I was one step away from being addressed as “Mr.” with that hideous hairdo. It was the perfect look for attracting flies, which was probably why I attracted a terrorist.
Over the next two weeks, Xabi and I would chat sitting around the college campus between classes.
“I was born to fly (he was taking private pilots lessons),” he would announce to me in his regal Spanish manner. Oh, but he was always quick to correct me every time I referred to him as a Spaniard.
“No, I am Basque!” he would point out throwing his black cape over his shoulder (ok, not a cape but his school backpack). Uh, whatever you say Xabi from Navarre, Spain. I should have picked up on Clue #1.
Fast forward a couple more weeks. I am seated on Xabi’s bed (fully clothed for all you perverts who are wondering…for now anyway). He lives in a men’s hotel, a studio on one of the upper floors just off of Broadway downtown San Francisco. He is pacing the floor, drawing the curtains closed. Xabi has a constant habit of hiding behind the window curtain, peering out onto the street below. Who is he looking for? Who is looking for him? This is quite weird. He did this ever time he walked in the door. This is normal behavior for someone snorting crystal meth, but Xabi doesn’t do drugs. He doesn’t even drink coffee. This was way before the term “TERRORIST” was trademarked by the Bushites and thrown around like popcorn on every television set from here to NASA’s space station. I wasn’t familiar with the seven signs to look for to find out if your lover was a separatist. I can barely keep up with my own “War on Pimples”, much less some ridiculous slogan as the “War on Terror”.
Then there was the book Xabi would read, the only one I ever saw him pick up. Clue #2… It was a book titled E.T.A., thick and boring-looking with some flag on the front cover …a colorful flag I was not familiar with. I never opened the book, but I can still picture it sitting neatly on the nightstand next to Xavier’s bed.
I mentioned Xabi’s odd behavior and the strange men’s hotel to my bar fly buddies…all of which had Ph.D’s in hangover remedies and counter terrorism, of course.
“Don’t you know that men’s hotel is full of Spanish separatists?” Dino, the one-armed Samoan car wash manager and father of eight informed me while kicking my butt in billiards. AHHH..Clue #3.
“Yeh, and I am Fidel Castro’s personal belly dancer! Oh, come on, Dino, if that was true how come the FBI hasn’t shut them down then?” I replied watching my buddy hit an eight ball into the corner pocket and winning a drink from me. Again, this was back in the 1990’s when the FBI spent more time investigating Monica Lewinski’s blow job than little men’s hotels full of Basque exchange students.
The hotel had a homestyle Basque restaurant directly downstairs from the Xabi’s flat. I decided to eat there one day…alone for further investigation (just like Nancy Drew with a beer in her hand). The place gave me a strange feeling. There weren’t any customers. The server seemed to be the cook as well. No one smiled. The two only employees there were speaking Euskara (the Basque ancient language..I think, that or a new form of advanced Pig Latin). I ordered too many courses of food. I was too scared to turn down the server’s stern suggestions. I even agreed to order chicken which I didn’t even eat because I was a vegetarian at the time (I know, sounds crazy…a beaner giving up meat is like a chinaman giving up rice, its almost against our religion). I was happy to get the hell out of there crooked ears, nosey nose, and ugly short haircut intact.
Maybe all of this seperatist stuff was all in my imagination island. But why would Dino and others throw around rumors like that if they weren’t true? I know from my experience of starting rumors in high school…they are ALL TRUE TRUE TRUE…well, atleast that rumor that went around senior year about me being a virgin. I was not proud of it…believe me.
After weeks of living with Xavier, and avoiding the issue, I decided to confront him kinda in the same manner the U.S. confronts its homosexual soldiers…don’t ask, don’t tell. By this time, I felt I could trust him enough to trust me to keep my mouth shut, for 16 years anyway.
“Xabi, I know whatever you’re in. I understand why. I know about Guernica. I know you are just trying to defend your people and your culture like some of the Native peoples have done here in the U.S. I’m not going to bring it up anymore, and I am not going to say anything to anyone. I don’t want you to talk about it…and I won’t either. All I want to know is if you killed anyone…Yes or No? Either way, I will never mention it again. ”
TO FIND OUT XABI’S ANSWER…TUNE IN TO MY NEXT POST…COMING SOON!