I rented a small house in La Gloria, in the hills between Rosarito Beach and Tijuana. It was a cozy place. I had painted inside and out and landscaped the yard. A willow tree shaded the back patio and there were a couple more trees. The architectural design was pretty neat and there was a shelter for my car within the walls. It was before I remarried and I had no real responsibilities. But it is amazing how complicated a single guy’s life can become.
One day my 18 year old daughter, Lisa, visits me from Costa Mesa and asks my permission to marry Rocky. I look her straight in the eye, hesitate for awhile, and then I say “OK”. You see, she and I both knew she was going to do what she wanted to anyway. She knew I would say “yes”. But it was sweet of her to ask.
Rockys name was Royal Harrison. I think his grandfather, an ex-prize fighter, gave him the handle. Rocky’s family was rather affluent. They had a company that manufactured brass fittings for yachts and other vessels.
Lisa was something else. She graduated from junior college when she just turned 15. Then she went to work for a private detective agency that had no idea how old she was. The agency was on a consultant basis for the pilot program of “Simon and Simon”. Lisa worked mostly in the office but I guess she talked them into letting her go out on some interesting cases.
The kicker was that Rocky and Lisa wanted to have a civil ceremony in the US and a church wedding in La Gloria. La Gloria is not a one-horse town. It has many horses. It is laid out along the old highway to Rosarito, two streets paved with stone, and the rest dusty, rough, gravel roads. Luie’s restaurant, “Carnitas Sahuaya”, is the hot spot in town. This was going to be interesting.
The first problem was finding a church that would marry them. The Catholic Church wouldn’t because Lisa wasn’t Catholic and I wasn’t influential enough to over-ride that. As an alternative, I offered to marry them, out in the country somewhere, under the wide open sky. I explained that I was probably as close to God as anyone, but they seemed to have reservations about that. Maria, a friend of mine, finally went with them to her church, a little boxy church with a steeple, on one of the gravel roads, and they agreed to do it. I don’t remember the denomination.
“Where shall the wedding supper be?” (That’s from an old folk song, “Frogie went a courtin'”) We went to see Luie at his restaurant. I had been a friend of the family for a couple years or so. I had even visited his hometown, Sahuayo, Michoacán, on one of my adventures into Mexico. Luie is a nice guy, but stone faced. He drinks a little too much with his customers and friends and has four daughters and three sons, at home. So we discuss the reception. He will provide the food and the musicians. We don’t talk about price because it is something that has to be done and I figure he will be reasonable. Carmen, one of his lovely daughters, and a law student, agrees to be the Maid of Honor.
Maria, in addition to helping with the church, volunteered her brother as Padrino. I was a little skeptical, but Lisa was happy with the idea. You see, he had spent five years in prison for killing a policeman he found in bed with his wife. He later smuggled illegals across the border. However, Marie swore that he had reformed himself. On the positive side, he was good to his mistress and their kids, and could play the guitar. I think he paid for the musicians at the reception.
It is the day before the wedding. Lisa and Luie’s kids are washing windows and decorating the restaurant as for a regular Mexican fiesta. I’m off renting a tuxedo. Luie in the lean-to, drinking with his friends, and cooking carnitas in a big caldron, over an open fire.
From a cloud of dust, shiny automobiles begin appear from Southern California. Everyone is elegantly dressed. Rocky’s grandfather and grandmother are happy, fun people, and quite a handsome couple. My sister and sister-in-law are present. Liz, one of Rocky’s sisters, looks like a gangster’s moll. She is beautiful, can be an angel, or can be as hard as nails. She is in one of her “hard as nails” mood, and the dark sunglasses don’t help.
So, I have the proud moment of walking my daughter down the isle. It’s a nice day, everyone is in a good mood, Rocky and Lisa are happy, and the ceremony goes off very well. It continues through the reception. There is a mixture of Norte Americanos, and Mexicanos. There is a language barrier but no rude, arrogant gringos. Lots of music, and dancing and social drinking, presents, and the cutting of the cake. Liz was even beginning to unfreeze.
A few weeks later there is a more formal, and quite different reception, at the home of Rocky’s family.