They call me Romeo. It’s not my given name, but that hardly matters.
I earned the moniker when I was a young little shit, maybe twelve. My friends and I were at the beach, like we were most every day during the summer, taking full advantage of the fact that we live near the water in Miami. We were cussing, simply because we thought it sounded cool (it didn’t), strutting around with fake bravado trying to impress all the girls we’ve known since kindergarten. My friend Raul dared me to talk to Missy Evers, the new girl who recently moved here from Idaho. An hour after that first chat with cutie-pie Missy, who by the way still rocks a bikini like nobody’s business, she was holding my hand. Two hours later my tongue was working hard to get into her mouth and I got my first feel of a female breast, even if it belonged to a relatively flat-chested twelve-year-old girl. That little make-out session happened strategically within eyesight of my group of boisterous friends, because at that age only two things matter: getting some action and making sure your friends know about it. And that’s all it took for the nickname to stick. Now, at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, it’s something I despise.
I was a halfway decent guy even back then, so most of my time with Missy was G-rated. When she finally took off with her giggling friends in tow, she was starry eyed, hanging on my every word. My dumb buddies, who knew nothing about who or what the Shakespearian Romeo was really like, pranced around like a bunch of idiots, harping, “Romeo got him some!” Groping a girl with a bunch of onlookers was considered “getting some.” How messed-up is it that?
In all the years that I’ve carried the stupid nickname around, I’ve served it well. Even my sweet mama calls me that, though in her eyes I’ll always be her baby boy. Honestly, I’m a hopeless romantic. I believe in love and all the great things that come with it. I believe in monogamous relationships, unlike my older brothers, who up until a few years ago made bed-hopping an Olympic event. That’s not to say I don’t do my own share of bed-hopping, but mine is more about the … research, part of my daily quest to find my ideal mate. I date frequently, constantly searching for the one woman who stands above all others. The one woman who I have an immediate connection with and see myself standing next to when we’re old and gray. When I date we have some laughs together; I charm and wine and dine. We flop around on the mattress a few times and by week two I’m usually bringing the lucky lady home for Sunday dinner with my entire family.
No one has ever lasted past Sunday dinner.
It’s not that my family isn’t welcoming, because they are. But Mama figured out years ago that in my hunt for Mrs. Right, first I’d have to spend my time with all the Miss Wrongs out there. She’s gracious and kind to whichever woman I bring home, giving me a knowing look at the end of the meal that silently says, “Oh hell no.” Well … without the swearing, but you get what I’m saying. My devout Catholic mother would never, ever swear.
In the past few years I’ve brought upwards of twenty different women home to meet my family. Some don’t last through the entire meal. Some make the grave mistake of seeing dollar signs. While my family’s empire is considerable, I down play it as much as possible. I do well, I make good money, have a cool car and a decent place to live. But I’m not the millionaire my oldest brother Cruz is or the numbers guy that my other brother Marco is. I’m the black sheep brother, different in every way from the other two arrogant dicks I happen to be related to. I enjoy getting my hands dirty, wearing ratty jeans, and romancing women. Cruz and Marco are both suit-wearing hotshots who ooze over-confidence and up until Cruz got hitched to Mia and Marco shackled himself to Amita, they were both serious players. Well, to be fair to my oldest brother, I’m only assuming he was a player before meeting Mia. It’s not like he ever shared any tawdry bedroom happenings with me. That’s cool and all and to each his own, but it’s not my style. I see no point bullshitting my way between a woman’s legs, especially when I can say a few nice things and treat them decently and still get the same result.
I suppose I’ve earned the damned nickname, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean I like it. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my two older brothers without that damn label being tossed around. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive; my actions don’t exactly discourage the name. I just don’t think anyone takes me seriously anymore and who knows, maybe I’ve done that to myself. Maybe I really am Romeo.
What my brothers don’t know is that this Romeo found his Juliet years ago, more than three to be exact. He met her simply by chance, one of those meant-to-be moments that has sadly turned out to be anything but. His Juliet is blind to his advances, businesslike and driven in everything she does. His Juliet is beautiful, ethereal, and totally and completely untouchable. So he continues to wine and dine, romance and sweet talk, all as a ruse to hide what’s really in his heart. It’s nothing more than a lame attempt to somehow figure out what makes Juliet tick and in doing so keeping all the unwanted family questions at bay.
Whether or not I am a true Romeo remains to be seen. What I do know is that I’ll be whomever I have to be to get to know the illusive Juliet.