On the last Saturday in October, we celebrate Guavaween which is Tampa’s (actually Ybor City’s) Latin version of a Halloween Mardi Gras. Throughout the night, young and old parade the streets in slutty creepy outlandish costumes.
Year after year (many moons ago before marriage and children), I found myself dressed in costume and beer crawling through the crowded streets of Ybor City with thirty thousand of my closest friends.
As crazy as it sounds, Guavaween will always have a special spot in my heart.
Dressed as a Brownie on a cold Guavaween night fourteen years ago, I traded Girl Scout cookies for beer. Then, at some point during that crazy chilly night, my girlfriend and I found our way into the Green Iguana to escape the crowd and warm my cookies.
While warming up in the bar with a cold beer, I smiled at a young lad standing across the smoky room. He smiled back and proceeded to walk over to introduce himself. As he gazed upon me, my knees went weak and I knew I was looking into the eyes of my future husband.
It was truly love at first sight. He says my smile entranced him, but more than likely it was the cookies hanging out my shorts and my belted fishnets that caught his attention.
Since there were so many great costumes at Gauavaween, I always traveled with a camera to capture some of my favorite ones on film. I also happened to capture the moment I met Allan.
Although it was all too cliché and too surreal for me to process, we chatted for a while and before we parted our ways, he asked me for my phone number. Since it seemed silly to meet a decent fellow in a bar, the rational side of my brain instructed me to not wait by the phone especially for a guy who hits on your in a bar on Guavaween.
However, he did call a few days later and we arranged for our first date on November 1, which years later would be recognized as another noteworthy celebration when our first daughter was born on that same date.
Since becoming a grown-up and a mom, I’ve gotten away from Guavaween, but I still celebrate the event every year in my heart as the night I met my true love. And of course, we I still celebrate it by parading around in costumes.