Saturday, 13 March 2010

Gentleman Caller

Sevillian Chronicles part III

Parental advisory: Due to truthful documentation of accidental nudity, this episode is recommended for mature readers only.

One day I was sitting in my living room, speaking to my father in Chicago on Skype. A contact request bleeped in, from an unknown Spanish person wanting to be my new Skype friend. Under normal circumstances I always deny and block such requests; but I noticed that this fellow was a gamer from Huelva (a neighboring city). Had a short surge of bravery and accepted the contact request.

We spoke for a while, this new Skype contact and I, over a period of a couple of weeks. He seemed a nice and intelligent enough person, and was very into nature-especially mountain climbing. So for lack of knowing his given name, I dubbed him “The Mountain Climber” (very original I know, but bear with me dear reader. As you will soon see The Mountain Climber-TMC for short- was a very appropriate nickname indeed) One day TMC told me that he would like to visit my company’s game shop in Sevilla, and asked me whether I’d take him there. I agreed to do so, and we made an appointment for TMC to meet me outside my apartment at 10:00 the following Saturday morning.

Friday night, before the Saturday planned for our meeting, I had a message that TMC could not make it to Sevilla the next day. La di da da, whatever, and I went on with my Friday night business, went to sleep, and…

Well first I must describe what I was wearing to sleep in that Friday night. Not because am attempting to write some sort of risqué story here, but because this nightwear was crucial to the development of this story later on. That night I went to sleep in a man’s XL t-shirt, that I inherited from who knows where. This t-shirt was tie dyed in pink, and the previous owner had cut the original neck out, so that there was a very wide opening in the top; making the shirt require me to keep my shoulders up at all times, in order to keep it on. Twas a very comfy shirt for sleeping in.

Saturday morning came around, and I woke up at about 9:50. I was feeling glad about having a peaceful Saturday morning at home, and planned to use it to putter around in my lovely apartment. And, as everyone knows, nothing goes better with puttering at home than a fresh pot of coffee. So I went into the kitchen to start a pot. I had one of those metal gadgets, where water is heated to a boiling in the bottom part of the coffee-maker, and this boiling water flows up through the coffee grounds, making a very nice filter-free pot of coffee. Just as I had prepared my coffee maker, and set it on the stove, remembering to turn on the stove eye this time, the house phone rang-signalling to me that someone was at the front door of my building, down on the street.

I answered the phone, and a voice said “this is José”. Now friends, José was the name of my Spanish employer, who was also a very good brotherly friend of mine, AND who lived in my neighbourhood. I remember thinking, as I buzzed him in “My he’s up and out kinda early for a Saturday. I wonder what he wants.” And because José is such a close friend and all, it did not even occur to me that perhaps I should change into some other clothes.

So I left the kitchen, in the general direction of my front door. The doorbell rang and I opened it to find a gigantic 7 foot (way over 2 M something, my Euro readers) man standing there; that I had never seen before in my life. I was so shocked and surprised that the José outside my door was a different José from the one I had been expecting to find, that I spent a few seconds gaping speechlessly at him. In my shock, I also forgot altogether how perilously my nightshirt was sitting on my shoulders. Yes, yes, indeed-you can guess what happened. My nightshirt with the gigantically cut out neck dropped off me completely, right there in my doorway, in front of this mountain of a man. This calamity caused TMC (I had figured out by then that it was he) to turn about 3 shades of magenta, and me to wish I could just disappear. There was a very strange moment between the two of us, but considering he had already seen me stark naked, and there was nothing I could do about it- I picked up my nightshirt, with as much dignity as I could muster and said “hello, what are you doing here?”.

Right after I asked TMC that question; there was a very loud noise coming from the kitchen. I left TMC no time to answer me, and took off to see what happened, with TMC in hot pursuit, and with me holding onto my nightshirt for dear life. It turns out that I had forgotten about the fact that had started a pot of coffee, and the coffeemaker had boiled over all over the stove, with hot coffee dripping onto the floor and sprayed onto the ceiling. It was practically coating the back third of my kitchen.

TMC was very very kind, and a lot less flabbergasted than me; and he grabbed a mop. So I took a sponge, and the two of us mopped up the coffee, for about the next half hour-not saying too much to one another, mind you. The work helped to take our minds off initial trauma though, and by the time we were finished cleaning, both of us were pretty much in fits of hysteria (was still remembering to hold up my pajamas this whole time), and we fell about laughing in my kitchen until we both were teary eyed and weak in the knees.

At that point there was nothing else to do but to start a new pot of coffee, invite TMC for to share it with me including some breakfast; but first to disappear into my bedroom for a few minutes, in order to put on some less dangerous clothes.

After I was more properly attired, we sat on my couch, TMC and I. We listened to music and had a very nice breakfast together, with only the occasional snicker from one or the other of us. Strange how uninhibited we were with one another, considering it was the first time we met and everything. We spoke about games and Sevilla, and all sorts of things; and about an hour and a half later he left again. We never did make it out to check out the game store. I was pretty dang certain about how after seeing me completely naked the first second upon meeting me in person, and instantly their after assisting in housework; that that morning would have been the last contact I would ever have with TMC. You know what? It was not.

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.

Sevillian Sock Shopping with Jesus

Sevillian Chronicles Part I

I had a plan with a friend, and needed to buy some socks. Can't tell you what the plan was, as is personal, and not really the point of the story; but I REALLY needed some special new socks, which is the important part here. As I was only living in Sevilla for about three weeks, thus slightly insecure about venturing out into the wilds all on my own; I mentioned my need for socks versus fear of Sevilla dilemma at work one day. Upon hearing this,my collegue Jesús very kindly offered to show me where HE would go, were he a woman in dire need of socks. So we made a date to go after work that day. I have to admit that I was very impressed that a man was taking my wish to buy socks so to heart, as to offer to accompany me; and dear Reader, after reading more of my Sevillian Chronicles, you will surely throw out the window any existing stereotype of macho Spanish men! Just wait until you have read the Change My Tire Incident, which also involved Jesús-my main partner in escapades in these early days.

Jesús took me to a teeny shop near his home. The entire store was probably no more than 20 square meters, with a counter; and all items for sale were displayed behind the counter. There were tons of women's sock-things, in every color of the rainbow. Hmmm!! It was a very cozy and old fashioned kind of shop, and it suddenly occurred to me that this was quite likely to turn into a situation where I would have to rely on being able to communicate with at least one of the two women working there, in Spanish, in order to accomplish my mission. Jesús must have read the brief look of panic in my eyes, judging by the huge smirk on his face. His look told me that he was going to enjoy watching how this exchange would work very much.

When it was my turn, I ended up with having the younger of the two women ask how she could help me. I told her, in limited Spanish, and with lots of bewilderd glances at the still-smirking Jesus, that I needed to buy some socks (so far so good, she understood me). She asked me what sort of socks I wanted (so far so good, I understood her). This was the point where things got a wee bit verbally challenged, from my perspective. I knew what I wanted, but could I tell this in Spanish? So I did my best to describe long white knee socks, which was obviously not good enough, because not only did this extremely kind and patient woman proceed to show me almost every pair of socks in the shop, explaining about each one at great length; but the older woman seemed to feel compelled to join the first one, in order to add her moral and professional support. Both were being very sweet, speaking v-e-r-y- s-l-o-w-l-y, trying not to giggle amongst themselves, and also gesturing quite a lot- blissfully ignoring the line of other customers that was forming behind me. I noticed this line though, and also how it was getting longer by the minute. It got much harder for me to admire the vast array of socks on display, and listen to lengthy descriptions of the merits of each pair, as was distracted by marvelling at the patience of people in line. Six, seven, eight people behind me. Nine people, who seemed to be chatting happily amongst themselves, about how X´s mother is doing after her surgery, and did Y know that Z had run off with N´s husband, and what a cute dog; (or is what I imagined they were discussing, from the words I understood, and the facial expressions with accompanying hand gestures) and who didn't seem to mind in the slightest that the two clerks had been giving me their undivided and exclusive attention for the last 40 minutes or so. In Germany one person would be absolutely aggravated to have to wait for more than .25 seconds to be waited on, thus my initial fear started to swing towards amazement.

After processing the fact that the twelve or thirteen other waiting customers were so happily occupied, I finally relaxed and got down to chosing my new socks. I ended up with buying three pairs, plus a particularly shocking shade of scarlet nail polish that these women both assured me was “absolutely necessary” this fall (dear reader, I LET them push me into this sale of nail polish consciously, as was so highly amused by the whole new situation, and was wondering what would happen, or what they would try to sell me next), and FINALLY left the shop, after being helped for a good fifty minutes.

As soon as the door closed behind Jesús and I, we looked at each other for a second or two. He snorted once, then twice; which led us to collapsing in helpless giggles. We laughed and sniffed and snorted and chuckled our way down the street, holding on to each other to remain upright. Wandering off towards adventure number two of that night.