Antonia, Mujerissima.

Now way was Antonia as beautiful as Penelope Cruz, but something about her in that Woody Allen film captured Antonia's crazy

No way was Antonia as beautiful as Penelope Cruz, but something about her in that Woody Allen film captured Antonia’s wild crazy.

“Las brujas, como representantes del desorden, sólo se podían desenvolver con facilidad en estas circunstancias de confusión”(Witches, as representatives of disorder, are able to develop easily in confused circumstances.) Carlos Garrido, Mallorca Mágica.

It occurs to me as I begin to write about Antonia, or Tonia or Mujerissima Mia (although mine she never was, despite the last letter of love) all of which I called her in our brief time together, and the havoc she caused out of all proportion to the time she was in the village, that perhaps she was a witch. Or perhaps she merely bewitched the entire village – including me.

The folklore of the island is full of witches. It is littered with witch place names: Puig de ses Bruixes (Witch Mountain) in Llucmayor; sa Cova de ses Bruixes (Bay of Witches) in Escorca; Pla de ses Bruixes (Witch’s Plain) in Manacor and to the south of Son Ferriol, and sa Font Bruixa in Fornalutx are just a few. If my brief winter lover from Seville was a witch, then she would not have been lonely on the island. But I think it more likely she arrived in turmoil, her own marriage shaky, divined the nature of our little community, and, like Circe, turned all us men of Deià into swine. Perhaps not a witch, but most certainly bewitching.

She arrived as the rains went. She came with Crysanto, and Carmen, their two children Krysna and Sara, and I described her in my diary at the time as a ‘dusky Andalucian lady by the name of Tonia with her son Carlos, who, like Krysna, was about five.” They had arrived from Seville. And, as I have stated, Tonia was Crysanto’s solution to the triangular problem – of his wife and Pete being lovers. It was, for a time, quite workable. Rectangles are far more comfortable. Especially when the wife at the other point is happy with the arrangement and best friends with her husband’s lover.

She seemed to me alive, responsive, and maybe, at those first meetings, a little apprehensive. She had crow black glossy long hair, a long and heavy face with full lips, white teeth that flashed often in smiles, a large laugh and a voice of honeyed sandpaper. I had always associated the dark brown blush on her cheeks with ladies of the Casbah, and, much later was to note it as the characteristic colouring of the beauties of Seville and Córdoba. She and Carmen both wore, as did many Spanish girls of the time, ill fitting jeans, which did little to hide a large bum, unattractive covered, glorious, I was to discover later, when revealed. She often wore black boots under her jeans, and had abnormally large feet. Anyway, she was with Crysanto, and I was, when first she came, still mooning over my neighbour.

But not for long. After being cut by her several times, I realised that it was over before it started. Rather, it was over because it never started. I had not been willing to give all, so I got nothing. She became a brooding presence in my life, no longer a neighbour (Pete and I had, by then, moved to the McKinley house) so I saw less and less of her.

And more and more of Antonia. The process of eye contact began, as it did in that long winter, at Gita’s parties. Looking back, she must have been playing her version of killer with many of us. Not so much killer as fucker. Of course she spoke no English, but she laughed and flirted eloquently.

And then, one night, we fell into bed, and there, at first, no words were needed. She simply appeared, I recall, as she did many times later, waking me to make love. I did not mind. There was never much pressure to arise early – some mornings I had to get up and go to the other side of the island to work on the yachts with Walter the American architect, but sleep was not such an important commodity in my twenties.

Making love with the Mujerissima was not a staid affair. Like smoking and selling dope, the perdidos (the lost ones, what the Spanish called hippies) of seventies Spain fucked for the revolution, and the wilder, the noisier, the more depraved and energetic was the fucking, the more it was a spit in Franco’s face. Anyone noting the outpouring of erotic, depraved licentious and wonderful Spanish films immediately after the death of Franco – most notably the 1987 Matador by Pedro Almòdovar – will have seen the bursting of the dam that had been building up in these people since 1938. But individual acts of rebellion had been, if not as public as the bombing of the car of Carrera Blanca, at least as spectacular in the lives of the individuals involved. And the sense of suppressed anger, creativity and passion was palpable in the company of these Spanish hippies. It was an exciting, dangerous – and erotic – time.

Did Antonia know that she was fucking for the revolution? Not if you had asked her straight out. It was not as calculated an act as, say, bombing a Guardia Civil station. But although she would not have put it in such a straightforward way, she would have been aware that her life was a revolutionary act, and that the power she wielded with her voice, her eyes and her body was used to defy. Of course there were consequences. Of which more later.

So successful was she in this defiance that we actually broke two beds in the McKinley house. In one night. This sounds a boast, but the beds were flimsy, cheap and made of the inferior plantation pine called norte.

But we laughed. “Joder!” she screamed waking Pete who slept downstairs, “la puta cama está rota, está hodida!” Fuck, the fucking bed is broken, it’s fucked! This she yelled down the stairs. Pete told me later he would never forget the sight of her standing, naked but for her long black boots, black hair wild from the night, screaming with laughter in her hoarse voice down the stairs. I seem to recall he drew her like that.

She may have been – was – leaping from bed to bed, another revolutionary act, but she ended the night in mine. Which is all I could have hoped for. It meant that we then spent days together, and she was exhilarating company.

We would eat our breakfast of bread and coffee in a dialogue of misunderstanding, her heavily accented Andalucian Spanish sparring with my English and halting French. We invented twisted responses to Spanish colloquial greetings; vaya con pulgas (go with fleas) replaced vaya con dios (go with God); hasta los coulos (until the arseholes or see you arseholes), hasta luego (see you later, or, literally, until later). This intense conversation and cunning lingual humour both in and out of bed had the consequence of continuing and expanding on my Spanish language skills which had begun with the far more sober lessons at the hands of the sombre Ferran. Although those lessons were also charged with eroticism, if somewhat more repressed. It does explain why the sound of Spanish, to this day, is, for me, the sexiest sound the mouth and lips can make.

The four of us – with Pete and Carmen – would often take off on excursions around the island in the little battered Citroen Mehari. One such to Sa Calobra stands out clearly.

To get there you drive through Fornalutx and take the road to Lluc, and turn off to drive down to the coast through a lunar landscape, barren of trees but littered with giant rock limestone formations of eerie beauty. A river, the Torrente de Pareis, enters the sea at the beach of Calobra through a limestone arch, a favourite site for tourists. So even then, the narrow road leading down to it was dangerous because of the lumbering buses full of day trippers from Palma.

On the drive down we would be forced off the road, often dangerously close to sheer drops, by these lumbering behemoths, with the impassive faces of elderly refugees from industrial northern European cities staring out at the two scruffy males with the beautiful Spanish girls. On this occasion, it became too much for Antonia. She had picked a bag of oranges from the trees on our terrace for the journey. She now stood up in the topless Mehari and, as the buses passed us, hurled oranges which would splatter against the windows, causing the hapless tourists to jerk back in fear of the juicy missiles.

“Maldita turistas!!” she would bellow as she flung another succulent bomb, “vaya con pulgas, a casa todos, jodete!” (cursed tourists, go with fleas, go home, fuck you!)

She took my breath away. It was Spanish, and not Spanish – it was certainly not the Spanish of sequestered maidens hidden behind mantillas (the vestigial Moorish veil). And it was also Gypsy behaviour, for turistas, read gauj, anyone outside the tribe, anyone ‘not Romany.’ Antonia was even too much for the more bourgeois hippy Carmen, but her behaviour thrilled her as much as it did me.

 

 

A famous painting by Julio Romero de Torres who was born and died in Córdoba, Spain, where he lived most of his life. La mujerissima con naranjas

A famous painting by Julio Romero de Torres who was born and died in Córdoba, Spain, where he lived most of his life. La mujerissima de naranjas.

 

 

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