March 1995, Madrid, Spain. Age 20.
It was 4pm and I left Matthew was asleep on the couch. I had to leave the apartment to go teach English to bunch of office slaves who sell cement. In Madrid, the air never slips out of its pollution but each day it takes on a unique smell of toxicity.
Menu del Dia, Special of the Day. Menu Turistico, outside the restaurant but all I can smell is decaying fish, around the corner I see plastic grocery bags full of bones and bits of inedible meat, meats of all kinds, pig, cow and fish in the potpourri of carnal fragrances again and from a birthday party next door where I could hear clearly like roommates, a party we’d never be invited to.
It was sort of like the sexual intercourse I was part of Tuesday but certainly didn’t get to take part in. For the best I suppose, we’d sit around and make fun of our neighbors, imitating their sounds of ecstasy by impersonating zoo animals.
At the bus stop I never want to make friends because the friends are usually very lonely housewives wearing too much frosty pink lipstick with mediterranean blue eye shadow on their haggard faces. One once talked about her house almost being broken and how its all the illegal Columbians who come here or those dark faced Moros. In the same breath she tells me she knows I’m not Spanish. I tell her she’s correct. I’m Mexican. I’m really an American but I don’t want to tell her because then I have to explain why I speak Spanish so well, or speak Castilian so well. “Oh la gente Mexicana es muy maja.” Apparently, she has Mexican relatives so I’m safe. One went to study in Rome and that made her extra special.
Two old men stand beside me at the Bus stop. They always look at me in a perverted old man way but I never catch them saying anything, unlike their fellow young paisanos who honk, whistle, and make the funniest comments that would get a big laugh from me if I didn’t know thats what they were hoping for. They want me to notice.
I was walking up a the street to the company of cement pushers where I teach at and came coasting down the sidewalk in a motorcycle wrapped in a black sheath. I can only see his eyes, head semi covered by his helmet. I stay out of his way, making sure to move to the right as he moves by me I can audibly hear “Que buena estas, eh?” I thought I was back living in Calexico, his voice wasn’t Spanish, it was Mexican.