Ex-Flame of McCain's Emerges in Rio

Maria Gracinda Teixeira, 77, a former Brazilian model, says that 51 years ago, she had a rendezvous with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that the Republican presidential nominee described in his 1999 book "Faith of My Fathers."

From McCain's recounting, Gracinda was a significant character in his life as a young man.

As a sailor, he met Gracinda when his ship, the USS Hunt, docked in Brazil in 1957.

"I met and began a romance with a Brazilian fashion model, and gloried in the envy of my friends," wrote McCain. "We danced on the terrace overlooking the bay until one o'clock in the morning, when I felt her cheek was moist.

"'What's the matter?' I asked.

"'I'll never see you again,' she replied.

"I told her that we would remain in town for eight more days, and that I would gladly spend as much time in her company as she would grant me. But she rebutted my every assurance with 'No, I can never see you again.'

"'Are you engaged?'


"'Look, I'm going to be down at the gate of the shipyard at one o'clock tomorrow afternoon. I'll be there, and I want you to be there, too.'

"She said nothing in reply, and an hour later, she left the party with her aunt, who served as her constant companion and chaperone.

"The next afternoon, I left the ship at about twelve-thirty and waited for her at the place I had designated. An hour passed, and she had not arrived. Another hour and she still had not appeared. An hour after that, I forlornly prepared to abandon all hope. Just as I was preparing to return to the ship in a state of deep despondency, she pulled up in a Mercedes with gull-wing doors. She honked the horn, and I jumped in, ecstatic.

"I spent every free moment with her for the rest of my stay in Rio. She was very beautiful, stylish, and gracious -- common attributes in her wealthy and socially prominent family. She took me to dinners and receptions where I toasted my extraordinary good fortune in the company of cabinet members, generals and admirals, wealthy aristocrats, and, on one occasion, the president of Brazil.

"We spent my last evening on liberty together. She drove me to my ship the next morning. I emerged from under the open gull-wing door and kissed her to a chorus of rowdy cheers from my shipmates. I accepted their approval with an affected sheepish humility.

"When we returned to Annapolis, I had a few weeks' leave, which I used to fly right back to Rio to continue my storybook romance. By the following Christmas, the distance between us, and our youthful impatience and short attention spans, brought an end to our affair. But it resides in my memory, embellished with age, of course, among the happier experiences of my life."

Gracinda goes into greater -- yet less Hemingway-esque -- detail in the New York Daily News and other publications.

- jpt

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