Naughty Ladies/Panama

When I was twelve years old, my mother and father took me to Panama on vacation. To this day, I don't know why. No one else I've ever known has gone there for fun and relaxation.

We were staying at an interesting old hotel in Balboa in the Canal Zone. One day, we hired a driver and drove across the isthmus to the Atlantic Ocean side. Here the driver was dismissed, and I found myself with my parents clopping through Colon in a horse-drawn carriage.

We entered a narrow street which, I now realize, was the habitat of ladies of questionable virtue. It is generally accepted that Panamanian prostitutes are the bottom of the barrel. It's their home of last resort.

In spite of the early hour it was about eleven o'clock in the morning two ladies left the sidewalk and trotted along side of our slowly moving carriage. They were trying to entice my father to join them for a few moments of pleasure. My mother, of course, was delighted.

Frustrated, and as a parting shot, one of the faded beauties played her trump card. Looking at me, she said, "And we'll take care of the little guy, too."

I wasn't quite sure of what she meant. We were more innocent in those days.