Updated: Jan 27
Hearing the names of cocktails and drinks, you can easily surmise the reasons for certain names. Some drink names are given for a specific location like a Daiquiri or the Long Island Iced Tea, invented at my family's place, The Oak Beach Inn, Babylon, NY. Some names are given for a person like Shirley Temple and Rob Roy.
Galocher'; a slang word for French kissing is none of those. This is a short story of romantic intrigue lost in translation with a tasty banana vanilla French Rum and a kiss.
On the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, a world-famous tourist destination rests next to the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten's territory, Maho Bay Beach. A famous beach for tourists and plane watchers to observe aircraft on their last approach. The low-flying aircraft appear as if you can reach out and touch them as they brush down on the runway.
Lori and I spot and secure a few lounge chairs that sit in the most fantastic location on the beach's edge. Sitting up in the chair, you can observe the entire coastline. Lori is a family friend, so dear; we call her cousin-Lori, about six months older than me at the young age of twenty. It's Christmas break, 1990; Lori and I are both single and available, casually, people-watching for hours as my parents walk down the coast to view the airplanes' touch down.
Lying back in the warm sun listening to the waves' sound and people talking, I hear many languages. St Martin is half-French and half-Dutch, and I am familiar with French, taking five years of school language classes. Our eyes are closed, and we are drifting off into dreamland.
Suddenly, a voice nearby says, "Bon Jour, Comment Allez Vous?" My brain instantly translates; Hello, how are you?
I'm doing well. "Ça va, bien," I reply.
A young good-looking guy with a thick French accent asks, "You guys from America?"
Lori sits up in the lounge chair with interest and says, "Yes, we are cutie." She flashes the guy a smile as a girl walks up and gives us a flyer.
With a thick French accent, she smiles and states, "You guys should come to Cheri's Cafe' tonight. It's right behind La Plage on the strip."
Looking directly at Lori, the guy smiles, agrees, "Yes, come. It will be great fun. Au revoir. See you tonight." They turn and go toward the beach as Lori and I glance at each other and grin.
Lori eagerly shouts, "We'll be there!"
Following that evening, Lori and I have dinner with my parents and then go over to Cheri's around 10 pm. Live music is pumping—an enchanting mix of attractive, youthful, sun-tanned, diverse people enjoying cocktails, mingling, and dancing. As we walk through the crowd, I see a bronze beauty with sun-kissed blonde hair. Looking my way around twenty feet away, she's sitting at a table facing me. She is with a guy facing the opposite direction, smiling directly at me, so I turn and look behind to make sure, smiling back as I return to look at her.
I hold up two fingers and point at her and her friend and then cross my fingers as if to ask if the two of them are together.
She laughs and responds," No, mon Frere."
"Your brother?" I ask.
"Oui, brother," she giggles.
She is so beautiful, and I am so magnetized that I feel no hesitation and start over towards her.
"Bonjour, Je m'appelle Kevin," I smoothly and confidently declare, Hello, my name is Kevin.
She responds," Bonjour, Je suis Madeline." Hi, I'm Madeline.
"Parlez vous Anglais?" I ask. You speak English?
"Très peu, Très peu," She answers, very little, very little. I do not know enough French, so this is going to be tough. Think fast, I silently state inside.
"Tu danses?" I ask. Do you dance? I hold out my hand in anticipation.
"Oui, Je danse," she answers with a laugh and a glowing smile. She grasps my hand, and I help her up ever so slightly.
I turn toward her brother respectfully and say, "Bonjour," as I hold my hand out to shake his. He raises an eyebrow and grabs my hand with a hard squeeze. Muttering words in French, he looks away, too quick for me to understand.
She says, "C'est Thomas, ne t'inquiète pas pour lui!" That's Thomas, don't worry about him.
"Va chercher une fille," go find a girl, she says to him as we walk toward the dance floor.
The band was playing the song, Hot, Hot, Hot, "See people rocking - Hear people chanting -Feeling hot hot hot!"
Without words, Madeline and I step in close together as I grab her hands. We knew how to be in sync with the music as we dance in rhythm like we knew each other before.
I lean in and whisper, "Vous êtes très, jolie." You are beautiful. I try for a kiss, but she turns her head.
She smiles and says, "No, no pas encore Kevin," no, not yet.
Then, she pulls my arm, "On y va, on y va," let's go, let's go, she says. We walk off the dance floor and over to the bar.
"Salut, barman," she calls out, "Deux plans de ma doudou s'il vous plait."
Two shots of Ma DouDou, please.
"Ma Doudou? What is that?" I question.
"It's a Rhum. C'est si Bon!" It's Rum, and it's so good, she answers. The bartender brings over a bottle and sets it down on the bar top firmly. Inside the brown bottle, I can see bananas and vanilla beans. He sets down three glass shot glasses in front of Madeline, himself, and me. He picks up the brown bottle and pours it for us all.
He yells, "Bonne chance!" Good Luck. As he tilts his head back to quickly down the shot, we hold our glasses up and tap them together, cheering, "Bonne Chance!" I am expecting some nasty taste to follow, but I am happily mistaken.
"C'est Bon, très bon!" Very good! I say.
"Un Autre!" I exclaim. Another! "Un Autre!"
We continue drinking the banana and vanilla rum shots, and then I feel it kicking in. I was now feeling groovy. I could tell Madeline was, too, because she was speaking so fast, I could barely make out what she was saying or even get a word in. I need to figure out a way to communicate, and then I remember I have a joint of crappy Columbian weed I had bought from a local in the city of Marigot.
"Tu fumes de l'herbe" I ask. You smoke weed?
"Bien sûr je fais Kevin," she says. "Bien sûr." I am pretty confident that was a yes.
"Ok, let's go, Madeline," I say as I grab her hand and lead her down the street and on to Maho Bay Beach. As we walk along together, we look up at the sky, and it is incredible. So cloudless you can view every star in heaven. The waves crash on the beach, and next, we see an airplane approaching from a distance out over the water. As it came closer, we could observe it was a large Air France plane; it nearly flew straight over us as it landed. Exhilarating.
I see a pavilion with some chaise lounges up a little further. We casually walk over and I draw one lounge chair off the stack, brush it off, and then kindly motion for her to sit down.
"Asseyez-vous s'il vous plaît," sit, please, I say.
She sits, and I light the joint, take a few puffs, and pass it. She smiles and fumbles it to her lips and draws in a hit of smoke and then another as she hands it back to me.
"A le goût de la merde!" She says with a look of disgust on her face.
"I know what merde is," I say. "Shit, right?"
"Oui, shit," she replies.
We take a few more puffs, and then I pull out some green tic tac's and shake them.
"You want one?" I ask.
"Oh oui, oui, merci," she answers back. I could not bear the silence any longer, and I figure it is now or never.
I lean in toward her and whisper, "Embrasse Moi," kiss me...
She giggles and says, "Tu ne dis pas embrasse moi Kevin, Vous dites Galocher." You don't say kiss me, Kevin. You say Galocher.
"Galocher?" I question.
She leans in slowly, whispering, "Galocher," as she gently touches my lips to hers and passionately French kisses me.
"Galocher'... "I whisper back as we kiss again and again.
"G-A-L-O-C-H-E-R', G-A-L-O-C-H-E-R', G-A-L-O-C-H-E-R'."