Carmen – The Young Lady Who Fell in Love with a Doormat
This is the story of Carmen – a young lady with dimpled cheeks and twinkling eyes. A young lady with tapping toes and talkative hands. A young lady who surprised even herself by falling in love with a doormat.
‘It’ll never last,’ said her mother, Margharita. ‘She’ll walk all over him. She’ll dance on his ribs and stamp on his head.’
Then Margharita rolled her eyes and waved her arms and said that she’d always hoped Carmen would marry the bullfighter.
‘Look at the brave strong bullfighter,’ she nagged. ‘He’s proud and tall and packed with muscles.’
But Carmen was not interested in the bullfighter. He was too puffed out and full of himself.
‘He’ll get gored by a bull and expect me to nurse him. He’ll get holes in his clothes and expect me to sew them. No, I’ll have none of that. I’ll stay with my doormat for he makes me feel at home. He makes me feel welcome.’
‘Whatever makes you happy,’ said her best friend Concitta.
Concitta worked in a cigarette factory. She was in love with the guitar player. Every evening, with the setting of the sun, the guitar player knelt on the cobbles below Concitta’s window.
‘Concitta, my Concitta,’ he sang. ‘You put fire in my heart and sunshine in my soul.’
Concitta threw cigarettes down to him and shouted out that she loved him too.
‘Listen to my guitarist,’ she sighed. ‘Listen how he sings out his soul for the whole village to hear. I know that you love your doormat but, let’s face it, he can’t do that.’
Carmen, calm and sure, replied simply. ‘He settles my heart. He just makes me feel welcome.’
Then she drew her chair closer and whispered into Concitta’s hair, ‘Also, he has this way of caressing my feet . . . ’
Concitta suggested that Carmen and the doormat run away together.
‘We’ll wrap him up in the old carpet bag and the two of you can sneak off in the dead of night. I’ll never tell anyone where you’ve gone. Not even if old lady Frida threatens to turn my toenails green and make my eyebrows meet in the middle.’
Carmen hugged her friend and told her that she could never leave her and that anyway, a life on the lam would not suit her doormat.
‘No,’ she said. ‘We’ll stay and be married in the village church. For this is our home. This is where we belong.’
When Carmen announced that she and the doormat were to be married her mother poured the tea on the fire and set the tea cosy alight. The doormat, who was waiting at the door, heard the commotion and smelt something burning. He threw himself at the burning cosy, smothering the fire and singeing his hair.
‘My hero,’ cried Carmen. ‘You have saved the day,’ and she dabbed him with a wet cloth and stroked his burnt hair.
‘Ha,’ said Margharita. ‘He’s clearly quite brave. Maybe he’s not so bad after all.’
So Margharita agreed to the marriage. She kissed her daughter and hugged her future son-in-law and ran to buy new socks for the wedding.
Concitta was Carmen’s bridesmaid. She wore a dress of deep red and extremely high heels. Concitta pushed roses into her curly hair, and her head was a fiery bouquet. Lightning flashed when she walked down the aisle. Carmen’s aunt, who did the flowers for the wedding, admitted that Concitta’s hair looked even better than the centrepiece on the bride’s table.
The doormat looked dashing in a black tuxedo, a single red rose pinned to his chest. His mother cried such tears of joy that she became quite soggy and had to be hung out to dry. His teenage brother drank too much and flirted outrageously with Concitta’s sister before spilling red wine all over himself. Concitta’s sister kindly poured salt on the stains and laid him on a bench where he slept the rest of the wedding away.
The doormat’s speech was short and simple. ‘For you Carmen, for you and only for you, for you I will be a hearthrug.’
Then the band struck up, led by Concitta’s guitar player.
The doormat led Carmen in their first dance as mat and wife.
Margharita danced with the doormat’s uncle, a shaggy, hairy mat, badly in need of a shave.
‘You’re a wild one, you are,’ she shouted over the music, but the doormat’s uncle made no reply. ‘Hmm, the strong silent type,’ thought Margharita and she twirled her skirt and kicked out her feet, the better to show off her brand new socks.
The bullfighter danced with the doormat’s cousin, a soft slim mat with bright red hair. He pawed the ground and thrust out his chest and lifted her right off the floor. The dancers parted to let them through.
Carmen and the doormat slipped quietly away to begin their life together. They made a home that was warm and cosy and welcoming to strangers. Carmen planted orange trees round the house and took to making chocolate. The smell of coffee and chocolate swept through the village and the people lifted their heads high and sniffed.
And if problems came their way? Well then, Carmen simply swept them under the doormat. He came down heavily on problems and, in all of their many years together, not even one escaped the weight of him.
As for the bullfighter – he begged the doormat’s cousin to join him in the ring but she would have none of it.
‘I won’t be waved about like the queen’s hankie. I’m not some silly little doily with nothing better to do. I’m off to art school to become a famous painter.’
Her painting of a watch melting in the sun can still be seen in the village museum.
The bullfighter never found another cloth that suited him just right. As a result he was gored by the bull and got holes in his clothes. ‘I’m not brave enough for this,’ he thought. ‘I’d rather join the army.’
So the bullfighter marched out of the village, stopping only at the water fountain to fill his bottle. There he met the guitar player who was soaking his hands in the cool water.
‘My fingers got caught in Concitta’s hair,’ the guitarist moaned. ‘Now they’re aching and crumpled and too sore to play. My knees are knobbled and I’m losing my voice. I’ve got tobacco in my hair and I want to give up smoking.’
‘Come with me and become a soldier,’ said the bullfighter and off they went.
When Concitta heard that the guitarist had gone she was sorry but she got over it. ‘He was knock-kneed and his voice was flat. I’m better off without him,’ she told Carmen, and she went to work at the local fireworks factory where her fiery hair was appreciated.
On the first Wednesday of every month, just as the moon is rising, Carmen lays her doormat outdoors and, to the music of the hooting owls, she dances on him, her feet stamping and her heart pounding and dust flying everywhere. The doormat giggles and tickles as Carmen twirls and he always looks sparkly clean by the end of the dance, bathed in moonlight, fit for another month.
On the first Wednesday of every month, just as the moon is rising Concitta tests her latest invention, her sparkler of the month. The fireworks blaze, the moon rises, Concitta laughs, Carmen dances, and all is well in the village.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gigi Fenster lives in Wellington. This story was inspired by her daughter’s mispronunciation of the word ‘matador.’