We must have traipsed through every kitchen and bath store in the greater San Juan area. Okay, maybe not every last one, but at least seven or eight.
It was raining—my god, it was raining—and we were tired. We’d been up since 4:30 a.m., and we were booked on a 6:45 p.m. flight to Vieques.
In other words, we were running out of time.
Our last stop was a high end place called Astoria’s, which was only a couple of miles from the airport. The woman who greeted us was friendly and helpful, although she looked (and spoke) like a street walker who had smoked at least five packs a day since birth.
“Yes, I think we have,” she rasped when we showed her our sample.
She led us to a display containing a variety of tiles that bore absolutely no resemblance to the one I held in my hand.
“Okay…” I said, puzzling over the selection but embarrassed, for some strange reason, to admit that I didn’t get her drift. At all.
“Umm,” I dithered. “Which one?”
She pointed her inch-long, crimson nails toward a tile that was several shades darker and a completely different texture from ours.
“This one,” she said. “Is perfect.”
Michael cleared his throat.
“Great!” I responded cheerfully, completely at a loss. “That’s definitely an option.”
“How about this one?” Michael asked, holding up a sample further down the aisle.
It was nearly a perfect match.
“Oh my god,” I said, laying our tile on top. You could barely tell them apart.
The saleswoman looked baffled. “You like this one?”
“This is it!” I exclaimed.
She seemed not only skeptical but mildly alarmed. No doubt I took my tiles more seriously than most of her customers. “How much you need?”
Michael had the numbers written down. “Two hundred square feet,” he quoted.
She shook her head. “I dunno,” she muttered, disappearing toward the back of the store.
We waited fifteen minutes. “We have to go or we’ll miss our flight,” Michael said.
I literally wrung my hands.
She came back. “We have,” she said simply.
“Great. How much?”
“ Cuánto cuesta?” What’s the price?
She slouched back to her desk, consulting a chart. “Four dollar. Each.”
“Ouch.” This was Michael.
“We’ll take it!” I exclaimed, all but throwing my credit card at her.
We made our flight by twelve minutes.
Hooray for our side.