By Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES — It was easy for my generation to fall in love and have sex. Everything used to flow so naturally, we weren’t after money. That doesn’t mean to say that prostitution and self-interested people didn’t exist…, however, it wasn’t an odyssey to find pleasant company, far from that.
When we used to get to know each other, it didn’t have to be via invitations to expensive hotels and restaurants, but rather to a simple movie theater, theater, the Malecon seawall, a park or a small party. Money did, of course, have value, having 20 pesos in your pocket used to be a fortune. Booking a room in a luxury hotel used to cost 21 pesos. There were all kinds of lodges, cheaper places, where you could pay 2 pesos per hour for a room.
In the old days, you used to have fun camping out and about, staying to sleep on a beach. Opportunities to have fun without spending a lot of money were countless. The personality of the person you chose to spend your time with, their qualities, their spirituality were much more important.
For example, I once met a painter at a street exhibition and we went to the old Casa del Te, on 23rd and G Streets. We spent hours there talking, reciting poems to each other. In the early morning, we walked through Havana’s streets like two bohemians and we ended up making love behind the 1830 restaurant. That was the beginning of a beautiful romantic relationship, at a time when people weren’t so badly intentioned.
Now, my son is 17 years old and when I ask him if he has a girlfriend or a girl he has his eyes on, he tells me that things are super difficult. You need a significant amount of money to be able to go out and the girls at his school are mostly “mikis”, a label which implies a certain financial status, a good phone, brand clothing and certain attitudes.
You can’t talk to them about going to a movie theater or sitting in a park; they prefer to go to a bar, or a club, an elegant place where they can show off their rags. They hate teenagers with nothing in their pockets, they rule them out before they even get invited out, looking at them as if they are outcasts.
A friend of his collected over 20 CUC (23 USD) and invited one of these girls to go out. He spent all of the money and didn’t even get a kiss goodnight. She sent him to hell immediately after that, she doesn’t answer the phone whenever he calls.
Other kids, who are only looking for sex, only need to pay one of these girls 5 CUC to do it.
On the other hand, there is online dating, some people are lucky; others have a fright or are greatly disappointed.
I’m not denying the fact that there is another class of young women, who appreciate true values, but they are an endangered species, self-interest rules: “tell me what you have and I’ll tell you who you are.”
The situation depends on the social circle you move in, but the truth is that the country has changed: those with greater purchasing power live to consume. The romantic world is just another memory, where “we used to lose our time” on a good conversation, even though there wasn’t anything more than a bottle of cheap rum and a park bench.