Monday, January 4, 2010

Just another day in Valencia

On one brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoon, I take a break from a busy day of doing nothing at all, and perch myself on a park bench in the center of Plaza de La Reina. Taking out my Blackberry, I begin to type an email message to my dad to tell him all about the beautiful Washburn guitar I have just seen at the UME music store on Calle Paz. (Truth be told, I sit for a moment in the vain hopes that the beautiful man I have just seen at UME might coincidentally walk by... but no such luck.) Within moments, a dark shadow crosses over me, and before I can look up to see what has so rudely blocked my sun, an older Valenciano gentleman, smiling the bright-eyed smile of a mischievous teenager, plops himself down on the bench next to me.

Now by older, I mean somewhere in the range of 88 to 94 years old. Not exactly my type, but I am open to conversation.

Despite the bench being otherwise empty, he positions himself within millimeters of where I sit, closing off all space between us. He leans toward me as he speaks, his breath hot against my face, and I try as politely as I can to back away and reclaim some air around me.

Where am I staying? he asks... how long am I here? He would like to show me around Valencia, he tells me. "You know", he says (I can almost hear the "wink wink, nudge nudge" in his voice) "I have been a bachelor all my life."

With one very wrinkled hand resting possessively on my knee, he leans in close – so close that I can count the unruly gray hairs bursting from his nostrils – and declares with eyes sparkling: "I could always get it up when I was younger, but now it’s not so easy!"

As if needed, this is my cue to extricate myself from that bench and head home. I laugh out loud, and can’t help but think this is one time I wish I couldn’t understand Spanish.

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