As I sat far away from our house in Los Angeles, I thought about how lucky I’d felt the day I’d pulled that letter out of the mailbox. I screamed when I read the return address…”Place De La Bourse, Paris, France”. My heart pounded as I tore the envelope open, and read the enclosed contract to be a “Hostess.” I had no idea what that involved, but I didn’t care, my dream was to travel and my plan was to have Club Med pay for my travels. I’d gotten the job! I’d been hired to work at Club Med, and included in the envelope was an airline ticket to Manzanillo, a beach resort on the pacific coast of Mexico, north of Acapulco. I ran into the house screaming “Mom, Dad, Club Med hired me! Mom, thank you for making me go to the French Lycee when I was little, thank you, thank you!”
I had gone shopping for a special outfit for the interview. I looked in the mirror of the fitting room at The Broadway Department Store (now Bloomingdale’s) in Century City. I had finally shed my baby fat, and felt like a woman for the first time… boy, that had taken a long time! I bought mint green pants and a matching mint and white striped sweater. At the interview, which took place fully in French, I had felt confident, and powerful and beautiful!
I was 22 years old, had just graduated college, and felt on top of the world sitting in the Lobby of Club Med, Playa Blanca . One week after I’d arrived, I felt like a princess on a throne when I noticed a guy walking up to me. The whole scene was unusual in that he was bare-chested and wearing a black and white printed Pareo (sarong) from his waist down, and in the Pareo he had tucked a large red hibiscus, a flower prevalent at the club. Around his neck he wore a leather cigarette case, in which he carried his favorite cigarettes, Pall Malls without filter. His dark brown wavy hair fell below his ears and he sported long sideburns…the cool look of the day. If it had been earlier, he would have fit right in, for Pareos were what most of the guests wore throughout the day. By eight p.m. however, all of the guests had gone to their rooms, showered, and had come back for dinner dressed quite elegantly – tropics elegant.
My job as a Hostess (a job my mother protested was “beneath” me, being a UCLA Graduate), was to sell the beads with which one bartered at the club, whether at the bar, the gift shop or the beauty salon, cash was never allowed.
As he approached my “throne” I noticed that in addition to the cigarette case around his neck, he wore a very small gold Star of David, on a gold chain. Suspecting he was from Mexico City I spoke to him in Spanish, “Can I help you?” I asked.
I had been right, he responded in that comfortable, familiar unmistakable Mexican Spanish and said “Sure, I’d like a pack of beads please.” I had to fill in the pertinent information on our little invoices so I asked “Como te llamas?”, what’s your name? He said “Isaac Schmidt”. I printed his name, and expressing surprise, he said, “In Mexico, nobody spells my name right.” He signed the invoice, took his packet of beads and turned to go. Then he turned back and said, “Would you consider joining me for dinner tonight? When do you get off?” I told him that I got off at nine and I could join him then. He went to his room, showered and came back at nine, nicely dressed. We walked upstairs to the dining room, and while we waited in line to be seated, I said to him, “I like your Star of David.” Without a word he reached behind his neck, unclasped it, held it out to me, clasped it around my neck, and said “It’s yours.” I protested, he quietly insisted.
On September 3rd my cherished Isaac (Iche), and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary …He had me at that simple, quiet, determined and generous, “It’s yours.”