Penelope by TS Hidalgo

Friday, January 27, 2017
Three weeks before her wedding, a riding accident threatens to cast Penelope's virtue into question; by TS Hidalgo.

I had a riding accident at my college's polo club, three weeks before the date originally set for my wedding. A minor matter apparently and not at all uncomfortable or painful but a major setback for my impending nuptials even so: I tore my hymen.

I called my mother a bit nervously. I had to tell her the details of my mishap while I led Wood to the stables. I tried again when I walked out of the dressing rooms. She didn't answer the second time either so I left a message. I decided not to call Jordi - my finance, flamenco dancer, first generation American on tour on the East Coast, and before that in Seattle, Omaha, Nebraska, and Redwood City, California with his latest show. I went back to my apartment, a loft actually, right on Berkeley campus. I read for a while and then I started knitting bootees for a niece of mine to calm myself down a little.

I was getting ready to go buy wool at a mall when my cellphone rang. It was my mother. I explained everything and we agreed to look for a good surgeon and not tell my boyfriend a thing. He called me that very same night. He apologized for delaying his return: he would come on Saturday. Extension of his tour on the East Coast, three extra shows in New York.

On Friday we went for an informational appointment at a centrally-located clinic - recommended by the medical team that took care of my facial whitening - and we scheduled surgery for the next Saturday morning. It was a quick and easy reconstruction operation, barely 45 minutes, with local anesthesia and no counter-indications or any further treatment necessary. That's how Dr. Wilkins said it would be - promise in his eyes too: Picassean, bulging, celestial - and that was how it was. My mother and I decided to go out for something at a café downtown after leaving.

"Finished business," I sighed with relief.

I had lunch at home with my parents and older sister. She was very focused on her latest project: comprehensive renovations of the insides of old buildings from the city's obsolete historical center. Lofts. For dotcom industry offices. My father blessed the table seconds before a resounding, "Fucking hell," after burning his tongue on the first spoonful of soup. Jordi called me: plan change on the spur of the moment. In the end he was going to extend his tour by two more days - Washington - and wouldn't be back till Monday. My brother and his wife came around five with my niece. I gave them the bootees and said goodbye to everyone.

On my way to campus, I got a call from Candice, and we decided to go to the movies with another girl friend from the department. I didn't tell them anything about what had happened. After the credits rolled, we decided to go have a few gin and tonics at Studio 54. The rest, as I recall: I met Dr. Wilkins on my way to the dance floor; Jordi called, I turned off my phone, I said goodbye to my friends. In his car, the doctor inquired as to my post-op. We drank stove-boiled coffee at my campus hours later and he operated on me on Monday, this time at zero cost.

"Flat fee," he said, to be more exact.

I got out of class that afternoon just in time to pick up Jordi. I was about to turn on the car when my phone rang, "Don't go to the airport: my return date has been pushed back again: Philadelphia, three days." U-turn and call to Wilkins. "Don't worry. On Wednesday I think I can go to your office too," I replied. It's true, I really could go Wednesday. And on Friday, when Dr. Wilkins sewed me up again, after the thousandth extension of the tour: a new sponsor had signed them for a show in Atlanta, dates to be announced.

During the weekend, I tried to catch up on my doctoral thesis, two weeks from my wedding. I went with Wilkins to look at some apartments - he was thinking about buying one. I spoke to my fiance, who several times gave me indecisive and hesitant sentences in reply. I tried to coax a firm return date out of him, resorting even to the use of irony, but Jordi responded that he didn't have any shows scheduled for any city called Ithaca.

A few new shows in London, maybe, but they weren't sure yet. Wilkins, at the beginning somewhat reluctant to have the morning stove-brewed coffee, started to get used to it and at this stage of the game was already learning how to make it himself.

I had more operations the following week, and the next week, when I found out our wedding would be postponed until further notice. I took the opportunity to enormously expand my contacts among those in charge of research grants at my university.

Then Wilkins and I also took the opportunity to go to carnaval in Rio for a few days. Upon our return, the doctor changed his real estate search on the spur of the moment: instead of an apartment he decided to buy an abandoned industrial warehouse and renovate it as a loft - without changing the factory aesthetic on the outside: residential and professional use in the same space.

Two months later, Jordi appeared. I lost count of how many times I had gone under the knife. My relationship with Wilkins has since then been purely sentimental. No one would know, seeing me in the picture, that I'm a gypsy sunbathing in a Beverly Hills sunrise who had gotten married a few hours before and had gotten an A+ on the handkerchief test.


  1. Repeated hymen repairs? What culture is this?

  2. Maryangel Mendoza ChapmanFebruary 7, 2017 at 3:09 PM

    the repeat surgeries were funny. The protagonist knits booties - nice detail. I wondered why she would marry the fiancee after his extended tour and her relationship with the doctor. Touring fiancee did not sound very appealing.

  3. Hang on, I get it....Penelope, doing and undoing her work as she waits for eternally-absent Odysseus. I was a bit slow off the mark but after sitting with it for a couple of minutes I got it. :-)

  4. It was such an intimate moment and you could really feel the love and energy in the place. Our ceremony at wedding venues Los Angeles was the most beautiful and romantic ceremony I could have ever expected (and all our guests made sure to tell us they felt the same way once it was over!).