Funny thing happened to me on the way to the 1st of August, 2009. I woke up warm, almost hot, as is often the case in Madrid Spain during the summer months. Slung myself out of bed without hitting my temple on the closet corner at the door – so I figure my month is off to a good start.
After a simple coffee and bran cereal breakfast (I know, I’m a typical Spaniard – NOT!), I got myself dressed without showering or so much as washing my face. I did brush my teeth, however…. I THINK. Grabbed one of the million plastic, 2-handle bags from the “bag-o’-bags” hanging behind the kitchen door and took off for the Saturday morning shopping before it got too hot. Someone told me, “You’ll fit right in. All the old folks do their shopping this early on Saturday mornings!” Hmph. Poppycock! (of course, they were right)
There they were in all their aged glory, white-haired old ladies and a few men waiting in line at the chicken stand, meat stand, fruit stand, and seafood stand of my local market, all waiting their turn, some trying to inch their way in front of others taking pity on their Golden Years, realizing they too would – hopefully – look so good at their age.
They 30-something guy with the tattooed forearms at the seafood stand looks down on me and shoots me a familiar ‘Good morning! You again?’ smile and simply asks me, “How many?”, knowing I’m going to ask for the usual – the langostinos. (big, fat peel-and-eat shrimp) He wraps my half-kilo of pre-cooked critters into thick paper, put them in a plastic bag, and takes my money with his fish-juice dripping hand. Thankfully, he wipes his hands on his slimy apron before handing me back my change and the purchase – but the handles of the bag are still wet. This kind of thing USED to get to me, years ago, but now it’s so usual I’ve learned to simply submit to it and say, ‘Well, that’s just the way it is,’ and go on with life. When moving to a different country you REALLY have to learn to do this – sometimes everyday. Just submit yourself to the differences. Don’t fight it. “Germs” is a relative term and you’d think that the germs are the same here as they are in the USA – but in the USA we seem to think the germs will kill us in a matter of hours where here, in Spain, those same germs will probably never kill you. Instead, those germs will likely make you stronger. “WELCOME, GERMS!” Leave the tortilla de patatas out in room temperature for 2 days? No problem! It’ll be fine! Leave the dinner-time seafood on the counter since you bought it this morning? It won’t kill ya’! Eat the potato chips scooped out by the waiters hands, the same hands handling money and doorknobs all day? That’ll make ya’ tough. Don’ worry ’bout it.
The above is not necessarily a rant – but a reality. I suppose a couple of years ago it WAS a rant – and surely some of that remains in the chasms of my mind – but not so much anymore.
Got the morning’s groceries home, hoofed up the five flights of stairs, dropped the food stuffs on the kitchen counter, and went to the bathroom to see my face damp with perspiration, sweat streaming down my temples and across the cheekbones – and it’s only 11am by now! Time to rest and recoop. A very cold shower was what I needed and that’s just what I got. Flopped down on the sofa totally refreshed and read my book with a glass of wine for exactly 30 minutes until I knew I had to start making lunch for my 2pm guests. Sometimes I think that this “Life as a Marujo” (i.e. male homebody, house man, house husband) is for the birds but it also gives me some pride and definitely gives me purpose so I’m happy to do it – but not until the guests are served and not until I know they like what they’ve eaten, what I’ve prepared for them.
The lunch consisted of grilled chicken with sliced garlic and a curry sauce. I also painstakingly prepared a rice dish which I oddly enjoy making, with ingredients of rice, sliced green olives, corn kernels, curry, sliced and caramelized garlic, spices, some tiny turkey breast cubes. This rice is a lot like the “arroz tres delicias” you order in Chinese restaurants. I’d also made a salad with more sliced olives, cheese, salt, oregano, and, of course, olive oil and vinegar. Classic salad. We enjoyed a bottle of Ribeiro white wine from the Spanish Galicia region and fruit and yogurt for dessert. After lunch, three people went to three different rooms for a short siesta. (I took the room with the air conditioning)
So the above is a recounting of my first day of August. Boring? Interesting? Typical? It is what it is and that’s all it is. Let’s not expect such riveting detail for the next 30 days of blogging. It is August, afterall. Kid’s gotta relax a little!