was born of Westindian parents in Bocas del Toro, Panama. She was married to
Prince Maximilian Nikolaus Maria of Lichtenstein in 2000.
For the first time in my life at school I was feeling recognized, honored in fact, feeling that I was more than just another Spanish kid. Still, my tired body demanded rest more than anything else at those early hours of the night. Jose Manuel had remained at my side trying to cheer me up, sort of getting me in the mood for the big night.
“See, you didn’t know all that did you?” he said chuckling with glee. In my exhaustion I figured the “all that,” was surely referring to some girl. I couldn’t really pinpoint who as I dug back during the year to the few girls I had only casually spoken to on a few occasions.
Before removing the dry chicken bone from my mouth I said, “I think, mi hermano, that I won’t be here when she arrives; I’m about to head for home. Really, I’m so tired and look how dirty I am from working all day, you can’t imagine.”
Instead of eliciting any sympathy from my friend he said, “Cheer up, the dance will be tonight, all night!” And he punctuated it with, “Awebao!”- meaning that I was being a fool to not take advantage of the big event to get close to Albina. “Look the girl is yours for the night!” said Jose Manuel screwing up his eyes like a madman driving home his point to a total idiot. We sat quietly once again as Jose tried every method of persuasion to encourage me to reward myself for all that I had been working for including this very night. I sat back enjoying the coolness of the tropical night just barely paying Jose any mind. Suddenly, I thought I heard someone calling me by my nickname.
“Hey! Juni, Juni!” The calling persisted over the noise of happy children at a once in a lifetime fair in progress. At last I lifted my head to find myself looking at the youngest of my father’s sisters, my Aunt Gwendolyn- the last person in the world I wanted to see. She was standing at the same spot where I had, not long ago, been speaking with my teacher. Before I could extricate himself from where I was sitting to go and meet her nagging stares, however, my teacher Doña Francisca intercepted her as she had promised.
I could just make out what the two women were saying and I sat back down with a sigh. My teacher told my aunt that she had asked me to stay and that seemed to pacify my normally relentless young Aunt. The reprimand that I would have surely received from her sharp tongue was averted and I turned my thoughts to the dance in progress which was looking better and better as the night began to work its charm. Although the dance had been something of an unexpected surprise to me I began following up on Jose Manuel’s amazing power of suggestion. I began repeating “Albina Romero” in my head shocking even myself. The mere sound of her name made me think beautiful thoughts and I associated her surname with the English meaning “rosemary.”
However, the thought of a girl like Albina, my Cinderella, really liking me had always seemed too good to be true. She was a person I thought of as regal, not to mention a great looker, for a Spanish mulatto girl. She had a presence about her, a majestic bearing that just made me all the more attracted to her. She seemed so sure of herself and of her place in this world that she exuded this I am God’s gift to humanity! but without a trace of arrogance. She was one of those girls that I would classify as a natural born Queen. I suddenly decided that Jose was right and I would stick around for the rest of the night.
Still fighting my own shyness about girls and my assumptions that I had no luck with girls my age I braced myself to open my heart- a little. Jose seemed to have gotten lost in the darkened atmosphere somewhere leaving me to think about the older women I had befriended and had ended up having sexual intercourse with without any problems at all before and after. I contrasted the trust these older women seemed to have in me and the distrust I had for younger girls, especially at school.
As I lay there on the cool concrete steps, I further remembered the girls at school who had gotten me into trouble with the teachers for really nothing at all; girls who had blown things out of proportion especially when I had only been playing with them. Those experiences coming to mind made me even more uneasy about starting a relationship with a girl. The thought of Albina and me becoming an item, however, a couple, and of falling in love began to intrigue me. The darkened surroundings were the only witness to my overwhelming fear of disappointment.
The boys who had surrounded me previously were suddenly gone and I was content to be left alone with my thoughts. For a while I started to feel lonely and then I remembered that I had finished up what I could of my insipid fried chicken dinner.
I got up suddenly and left seeking somewhere to discard the greasy paper plates and the dry chicken bones. Walking like a tired man I found an overfilled garbage can tossed the plates and made it back to the restroom. I washed up, once more felling better as I attempted to groom myself as best I could to meet my princess for the night.
The crowd of happy kids and the bright lights made me proud of myself and about the success of our school fair. Before I knew it I was finding my way back to my spot at the grandstand.
This story continues.