Right before New Year’s Eve, the movie Titanic premiered, so we rushed to CocoWalk’s AMC Theatre for a Sunday matinee before my night bartending shift. Through the entire three hours of emotional highs and lows and laughs and tears, surreal thoughts were bouncing around in my head like a barista on an espresso binge. Jack and Rose’s relationship was a social taboo. They came from different upbringings. Love didn’t know such boundaries. The giddy kisses they shared in the beginning of the movie reminded me of the day Fernando had showed up at the Cheesecake bar. The moment on the bow of the boat where Jack helped Rose fly took me back to the Barnacle where we’d counted stars. They were just like Fernando and me. Fernando wasn’t rich, but our cultural differences were an obstacle we’d have to overcome someday. Our fingers were locked together throughout the movie.
Then the boat sank—yeah, I knew that was coming—but I didn’t expect Jack to die and Rose to be left alone, clinging to a piece of wood in the dark, frigid ocean. The air kept escaping from my lungs. I couldn’t breathe fast enough. Tears poured down my cheeks. I wiped them away subtly with my wrist. The credits rolled and Céline Dion cooed about being near, far and the heart going on. Lines of people filed toward the exits. Fernando turned to me in his seat. We looked at each other, our eyes filled with sorrow. I pressed my lips against his until my chest hurt. We sat there in silence with foreheads touching until every chair was empty. When we left the theatre, neither of us said a word. My mind was back to over-analyzing his every move, worrying if our love boat was going to sink.
This started my decade-plus obsession with Cartman.
I bought Fernando a T-shirt that said, “Oh My God! You Killed Kenny!”, and he told me I was awesome.