Saturday, 13 March 2010

Stress and Peril

Sevillian Chronicles Part II

One of the first evenings I was living in Sevilla, two adventures transpired in the same night. One immediately following the other. I have written the first down already, titled “Sevillian Sock Shopping with Jesus”; and now for part two of that absolutely hilarious night.

My boss, who was my friend before I moved here, lives very close to my apartment here. About 5 minutes away on foot. He was out of town that night, and I was invited to spend the evening hanging out with his girlfriend. I was still not so familiar with my new neighbourhood, but thought I had at least a general idea of how to find José’s place again. So I took off walking. This walk took me longer than it should have, had I known exactly where I was going, but sooner or later I was standing in front of José’s apartment building.

I knew he lived in apartment number 4D (D is for derecha, or right, in Spanish). Had a moment of feeling very proud of my navigational skills, and then I rang the buzzer; so that Monica (the girlfriend) could let me into the building. Nothing happened. Hmmmm! Rang again. No response. Called Monica on her cell phone, saying “I am downstairs, please let me in”. She said “alright”, and that she would buzz me in. Still nothing happened-no buzzing noise at the door. Was standing there waiting for the buzz, when a tiny little old man came walking up to the door. He was surely pushing 80 years old, tottering along with a key in his hand, and heading directly for the door I wanted to enter. He said hello, and started to chat a bit with me (is the Sevillian way to speak to EVERYBODY). I told him I was there to visit a friend, and for some strange reason she had not buzzed me in yet. He asked me her name, and I told him “Monica y José”, also saying that they lived in apartment 4D. This man said to me “Oh, I know them, and no they don´t live in 4D, but 4I” (4I would be 4 izquierda, or 4 left, in English). I answered him with “No, I have been here before, and I know that they live in 4D”. But this man was very insistent that my friends live in 4I, and stuck to his guns. This argument (with me trying harder by the moment to remain polite) continued for a good 10 minutes, before I got fed up and phoned Monica again. I spoke to her in English this time, so this man would not understand me. I said “Monica, there is a silly little man here, arguing with me about which apartment you live in, and I cannot get past him.” She said she would come to look for me. We hung up. The man was watching me intensely during this phone call, and as soon as had hung up, he smiled at me-a gigantic grin-and said (in PERFECT, though heavily accented English) “Oh, you are American. I was wondering what your accent was.” And proceeded to tell me for another 20 minutes about how he loved to speak English and had been to America before (I got a very detailed travelogue) and so on and so on. Needless to say, I was pretty mortified about having managed to run into one of the very small handful of older Sevillian men who speak perfect English. And not only that, but I had just insulted him on the phone to my friend-calling him a silly little man. But he didn’t seem to be angry about this faux pas, and FINALLY he opened the door to the building.

I followed him in, and we both started up the stairs. He stopped in front of a door on the first floor (in Europe, the first floor is what you would call the 2nd) and invited me in for a cocktail, and to meet his wife, who was also a big America fan. I told him, as politely as I could manage, that I appreciated his kind offer; but that my friend Monica “in 4D” was surely wondering what had happened to me by now. He shot “4I” back at me, and went into his home; while I started climbing the stairs.

I Climbed past the 2nd floor, the 3rd floor, and then was standing in front of 4D. Hmmm! Door didn’t look right. There had been a mat in front of José and Monica’s. Perhaps I miscounted the floors? I decided to keep climbing. 5th floor. Still doesn’t look right. I can surely count to 4. Mental reclimbing and counting. Some vague memory pressing on my brain that José’s building HAS only 4 floors. And right that second, the hall light went out. It must have been on a timer, which is very typical here. I was plunged into the center of a very deep dark blackness. Could see nothing at all. And just as the light went out, two other things happened simultaneously. My cell phone rang, AND I realized that I had quite likely been arguing with that man, in order to enter the wrong building. Answered my cell phone, standing in the stairway in the dark. It was the wife of one of my co-workers, looking for her husband, who had been on the evening’s previous adventure with me. I told her that Jesús was on his way home, and should surely be there soon. And then she went into chatty mode, asking how I was doing, and so on. This was a very stressful moment for me, standing in the dark in the wrong building, with Monica waiting for me, chatting with Rocio in Spanish (tough exersize in that exact moment) and facing great peril to descend the stairs again in the dark. So I was, more or less, very rude to Rocio. Told her was having a small problem, could not talk more now, and hung up on her rather abruptly. Then I started to feel my way back down the stairs, in pitch black nothingness, heart beating like crazy.

I finally reached the door of that building, without injuring or killing myself, exited as fast as possible, and went to stand in front another door to another building, one house to the left of where I had been. Saw a plant in the foyer of that one, through the glass, and remembered that had seen that plant the last time went home with José, so this was surely the right building this time. Was taking no chances though, called Monica again to come down and get me.Which she did. She was very concerned about what had taken me over half an hour to NOT show up in her living room. As soon as I saw her, I fell into a fit of helpless giggles and could not stop. It took me almost another half an hour to manage to tell her what had happened, which started her hee-heeing and snorting right along with me. We got too giddy to be able to climb her stairs, and we rolled around in her entry-way, in absolute hysterics for quite a while before we pulled ourselves together, and started to climb the stairs to her apartment-4D.

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