Romancing Casablanca
Bev Vines-Haines
Hayward Fault Line Winner
This is the story of the biggest disappointment of my life. Long story so I’ll try to be brief. I met this guy from Morocco on the Internet. I know. I’ve heard the stories. Guys writing from anywhere in Africa tend to be catfish. Swindlers. Conmen.

Thing is, this seemed different. We met in a chat room for people interested in global warming. I think we can all agree this is not the kind of place the typical catfish would troll. I think we chatted a week before he told me his name was Rick. RICK! It was fate. I have been watching the movie Casablanca at least once a month for thirty years.

It was several weeks before I found out he is actually an American citizen. He’d been imprisoned twice since arriving in Casablanca and most all of his American funds had been stolen. In spite of all that bad fortune it was at least another month before he asked for money. I know.  Like I said, I’ve heard the stories. In spite of my natural suspicions, we fell in love. We wrote long emails, brief loving texts and talked on the phone for hours each week. It is chilling when your heart surges with joy and people refuse to believe you have found true love. Some people even mocked me and laughed.

Rick tried valiantly to get to the States but then his Passport was stolen. I offered to fly to him but he wouldn’t hear of that. So noble. I am a stubborn woman. Always have been. No one knew the streets of Casablanca better than I do. Having seen the film more than 300 times, I am a bit of an expert.

My flight landed in the heart of an urban sprawl. This looked nothing like it looked in the movie. Clearly things change after more than 70 years. I bought a map to locate Rick’s address and caught a cab.

I know everyone thinks they know how this ends. They would be wrong. I found my Rick. A bit older and more gray, even chunkier than his photo. But he was there and happy to see me. He worked for a veterinarian just like he’d said. Every evening we dined out or drove to the beach just to share a bottle of wine and tell our life stories.

Rick was not the problem. It was Casablanca itself. Filthy and decrepit in many places. So far from cosmopolitan. The bloom fell off the rose for me. Just a dirty port city after all my years of expectation.

I bid Rick adieu and took off for Cartagena. Romancing the Stone was actually a better film.



First published: February 2017
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