Sunday afternoon I went to Bill Brunner's place for another Christmas dinner. Bill and his son Adam own a bed & breakfast called Los Nances, perched on a hill above El Valle. It has a hunting lodge feel to it, lots of timber and glass, and a well-stocked bar where, naturally, I get myself a Diet Coke on the rocks.
The lodge was populated with an odd assortment of characters. Joe and Lori from Oklahoma, now living here in El Valle. Susan, a writer who moved to Panama in order to live cheaply while she self-publishes and markets her books. Norm, an old Zonian who loves to talk. Dorothy and Olga, two very elderly sisters (85 and 92, I believe) who used to own Los Nances. Olga lives there, while Dorothy lives and continues to work in the city. Dorothy is very light on her feet and has an excellent memory, whether you're talking about some incident last week, or a department store in Colon in the 1930's. Apparently Dorothy's father was a Cherokee Indian who came to Panama and married a native. She grew up in Panama and speaks English and Spanish fluently, as do Norm, Bill, and Bill's two children Adam and Holly, all of whom were born and raised in Panama.
Bill has a booming voice and likes to make provocative and borderline insulting comments. I think he knows he's being a bit of a jerk, but to him it's all in fun. If anyone were to get angry I think he'd be surprised, or maybe laugh it off, I don't know. He was telling us Dorothy's history, how her father had immgrated to Panama and gotten into real estate, and then he called Dorothy over and said, "Dorothy, wasn't your father a big slumlord in Colon?"
Dorothy frowned and said in a very even tone, "He was a property owner. I don't know that I'd call him a slumlord."
On another occasion Bill complemented Adam on the black shirt he was wearing, saying, "You look very slim in that shirt."
I said, "Adam is slim."
And Bill says to me, "I should stand next to you so I'll look slim too."
So that's Bill. On the other hand he is thoughtful, efficient, and was kind enough to invite me to dinner, knowing that my family was away.
All of which has nothing to do with this joke he told, which is not offensive to anyone, and which I will tell in the next post, so tune in tomorrow.