Augusta Maine, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Enrique, Jordan, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Mr. Velveteen, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Thomas, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
The Gunnarsons, the Browns and the four young men from New York threw on shirts and flip-flops and headed up Pilitas in search of a Tapas bar. The ten crowded together beneath two umbrellas at two tables on an outdoor brick patio where Zach paid for a pitcher of Sangria, another of cerveza and a single Jarritos mandarin soda with two cups for the Bryans to split, all of which Enrique ordered in perfect Spanish.
“So let me get this straight,” Thomas said, distributing the first pitcher of beer into five mugs, “You two are cousins?” he asked Mary, “not twins?”
“Correct,” Mary replied handing each child a small glass of soda and nodding. “Our mothers are identical twins but we just look amazingly alike.”
Beth said, “What do you say, boys?”
“Thank you!” Both Brians declared as they returned to playing together with Mr. Velveteen.
“And you both have sons that you named Bryan? What’s up with that?!” Jordan interjected, placing one mug of beer in front of himself and passing another to Dennis.
“Yes, well sad story,” Mary said with a triple nod. “We had an uncle who served in Vietnam. Went MIA in 1968. Pretty sure he died as a POW but no official word. Uncle Brian was idolized by both our moms and we independently chose to name our sons after him. Beth went with the traditional spelling but I changed the ‘i’ to a ‘y.’ Seemed like tempting fate to use the same spelling, plus this way both Bryan and Mary are spelled with a y which I thought was a nice touch.”
“It is a nice touch,” Beth said, nodding and poring sangria into four glasses, “and, in more ridiculous coincidental behavior, I thought the same thing when I named Brian Brian with an ‘i’ like Elizabeth.”
“Ha!” Mary barked. “I never think of you as an Elizabeth. You’re always Beth to me!”
“That makes sense. I always went by Beth when we were little, it’s only been since I started college that I stopped insisting people call me Beth. Joseph uses both, don’t you sweetie?”
“Ya. Just as I now go by Joe or Joseph. Before you Americanized me it was always Joseph.”
“But you got pregnant and had your sons at the same time?” Dennis asked with a feigned shudder. “That’s… creepy!”
“A little, but not so very,” Mary said. “I know of lots of siblings whose children are born right around the same time. Don’t you have cousins near your age?”
“Near!” Jordan agreed, elongating the word, “Not exactly my age. Weird.”
“It is weird,” Zach said with a nod, raising his hand at the passing server and circling his finger over the pitchers, “but I think it is much weirder that we wound up at the same hotel at the same time!”
“¿Más lanzadores?” she asked, causing Zach to turn his head toward Enrique.
“Si,” Enrique replied with a nod, “por favor. And you guys haven’t seen each other since like the nineties?” he added, speaking to Beth and Mary.
“Well that isn’t super strange really,” Jordan said, “I mean, it is a big travel time and all, right?”
Enrique bobbled his head in reluctant agreement as Beth said, “Yeah. Saw each other, what? Twice after grandpa died? Almost twenty years now? I mean, we used to write some when we both lived in the States and then we emailed some when I moved to Iceland but things get busy. I’m more likely to hear what Mary’s up to from my mom than I am from her.”
“Ditto,” Mary said with a shrug. “I agree with Zach though. The craziest part is that we wound up here together at the same place at the same time.”
“Yeah, that’s one word for it,” Enrique said, nodding. “I got one thing to say though. One thing to the Zach-meister there. Didn’t somebody say to me how important it is to keep in touch?”
“Hmmm,” Zach acknowledged, nodding his head, “that sounds very familiar. I’ll have to remember it. Oh, hey!” he added. “Wasn’t that the same guy who told you not to kill too many braincells?”
“Just shut up and pass me a sangria. Please.”